Review: The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells

Title: The Summer of Skinny Dipping
Author: Amanda Howells
Published: June 1, 2012
Pages: 306
Source: purchased

Goodreads Summary: After she's snubbed by her snooty cousins in the Hamptons, 16-year-old Mia Gordon meets next-door-neighbor Simon. And from the very first time he encourages Mia to go skinny dipping, she's caught in a current impossible to resist.

Amazon Summary: Grounded, logical Mia is trying to cope with a summer that hasn't been what she expected. Her vacation in New York's tony Hamptons with her extended family was supposed to be about spending time with her firecracker cousin Corinne and her sympathetic aunt as relief from her mother's criticism and her parents' fights about money and status.

But quickly the bubble bursts: her aunt is tense and preoccupied while jaded Corinne is more interested in drinking and her cool friends. Adrift, Mia can't help wanting to be part of Corinne's circle, even though she doesn't like these girls. Struggling to remain true to herself, she strikes up a friendship with Simon, the boy next door. Through late-night walks on the beach, the teens become more than friends. A skinny dip after a storm brutally ends Mia's summer—but not the growth she's achieved.

Confession right away: I'd taken the synopsis all too literal before purchasing this book. Basically my interpretation of the summaries had been completely off. I'd expected this to be about Mia, whom, one night as she's swimming in the ocean, either drowns or comes close to it and that the story would take you to moments in her life. You know, that kind of book.

In case anyone (er, doubtful) makes the same mistake.. well, it's not that kind of book. This was a light summer read, however, it'll address heavier problems throughout - a handful of dysfunctional family, friends, and relationship issues. Also, most importantly, how the outside can fool what's on the inside, what's really going on.

Although having misunderstood the storyline I kept expecting something that wasn't going to happen. I kept looking for the night she would go in the water and "get caught in a current" and have her out-of-body/flashback experience type of thing. So I literally spent half the book wondering when when when it was going to happen and why Howells kept dragging it out.

My bad.

So let's talk about the actual story. I had a very hard time getting into the book, it just didn't grasp me. It was slow-going with minimum action.
The storyline will go back-and-forth between Mia's discomfort with family and friends. I did appreciate how Howells portrayed the different relationship issues taking place, it felt real, but that was about it. I was mostly annoyed by Corinne and Gen and their behavior.

Enter Simon. Really just suddenly there, all words and oddness. Maybe I've gotten too used with mysterious or subtler types because Simon was all talk and I was experiencing it to be too in-your-face-esque.

Sometime after Simon's entrance a row of nights will follow of which Mia sneaks out of her bedroom window in the middle of the night to meet Simon and hang around on the beach; him trying to convince her to skinny dip with him.
It was surprisingly natural and relaxed. Even though it's a given something will spark between them, I had no such sense of the matter. There wasn't any obvious hint of attraction and when they do take their friendship to the next level, I was still locked in on them just being friends.

As the novel was starting to come to its end, I had no prediction of how it was going to wrap up. Nothing remarkable had happened until then.
I must say it was the last few chapters of 'The Summer of Skinny Dipping' that really had me not be, well, bored with the book. The pace was starting to slightly pick up, things started coming together, people started coming around.

I was pleasantly surprised by the ending. It was exactly what the story needed, something bigger than summer, a disapproving mom, and a friend who'd gone down the wrong path. Something with an impact, with meaning. I hadn't been attached enough to feel sad, but I was glad the story got more purpose and feel.


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