Rating: 3 stars
Sixteen-year old Mia cannot wait for the summer to start; she's very excited to be spending her summer with her cousin Corinne, the older and somewhat aloof Beth, her Aunt Kathleen and Uncle Rufus Drexel. The Drexel family seems to have the perfect life Mia only wished for; she feels hers is less than ideal because her mother gets on her case about her weight and looks and is very concerned with money and appearances.
Mia can only take so much of her younger sister Eva, who is an American Idol contestant in the making and perfect in their mother's eyes; while Mia is so very lacking—plus her boyfriend Jake broken up with her right before school ended because she wouldn't go all the way with him. Mia is glad to get away from Athens, Georgia and head off the Hamptons of New York where she can swim in the ocean and relax in the sun.
But, things are very off and not at all what Mia was expecting. Corinne is very cold to her, and cares more for partying and drinking than spending her days at the beach. Mia soon feels like an outsider and begins to go off by herself, until she meets a mysterious boy, Simon, who smokes and likes to talk about books and art. At first Mia finds him odd, but as she gets to know the seemingly happy go lucky teen, she thinks he's special.
Soon Mia only wants to be with Simon and help him live out his dream, but Simon's father has other plans for him that causes a major rift between father and son. Mia learns that on the surface things may be too good to be true, but when she peels away the layers, and finally sees what happens behind closed doors, her own personal problems are not bad at all.
The Summer of Skinny Dipping is a perfect summer read. Amanda Howells doesn't brush over the questionable actions mainly with Corinne, who goes along with the crowd regardless of the trouble she finds herself in. We see alcohol consumption and some girls gone wild PG-13 style. Corinne is a very lonely and uncertain girl who starts to give up on her life before it can even start. Her struggles compared to Mia's are very subjective, and it was interesting to see how both handle them individually. Mia is much like a typical teenager whose heart is broken by her first true love.
The Summer of Skinny Dipping is simple reading, but deep enough where you may look inside your own self, much like Mia has done and come to some welcome conclusions about life in general. A recommended read for the twelve and up reader.
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (June 1, 2010)