Originally posted at Chicklish 'I wanted to say this morning, only you ran off... Sorry if I was rude.' The boy from the boat grinned, looking straight at me. 'Your surprised me, that's all. The scar' - he touched his face - 'took me by surprise. I didn't mean to be rude.' I gaped at him. Nobody ever, ever mentioned the scars. After the car crash that leaves her best friend dead, Jenna struggles to rebuild her life. But every stare in the street, every glance in the mirror, makes her want to hide away. And then Ryan turns up - a tall, good-looking traveller unlike anyone Jenna's ever met before. Can he help to put her world back together, or will he just break her heart?
Skin Deep is a beautiful novel about fourteen-year-old Jenna who meets a polite, good-looking traveller called Ryan. Jenna luckily survived a car crash which killed her best friend, but she herself did not get away easily and half her face was burned. Hidden behind a mask for half a year, her confidence and self-esteem is blown especially without Lindsay to look out for her. And then by chance she meets Ryan - a handsome, gentlemanly traveller. As their friendship develops, he builds her confidence and helps her come to terms with her disfigurement. But will he shatter the pieces in her life that she has so carefully glued back together during their relationship?
I am so glad that I was asked to review Skin Deep because otherwise I would probably have overlooked it and then I would have missed out big time! Laura Jarratt writes beautifully and brings a fresh, vivid voice to YA fiction. Before I started reviewing/blogging, I always had the misconception that debut releases were dull and boring but Laura Jarratt demonstrates that newcomer authors can write just as beautifully as experienced writers.
In the first half of the novel, the reader gets to know the characters through the alternating chapters between Jenna and Ryan, and nothing really happens. It charts the beginning of Jenna and Ryan’s friendship before following how it develops into something more. Looking back I wondered why I didn’t give up on reading it but then I figured that it was because it was very interesting to see how Ryan was helping Jenna break out of her shell and that was more page-turning than any fancy plot! The climax hit me in the face when I least expected it and I felt my heart sink a little, hoping that I wasn’t going to be disappointed by one of the characters. From then on I was rushing through the book, desperate to find out the ‘truth’.
The characters in Skin Deep are so believable and easy to empathise with. The sensitivity with which Laura created the fragility of Jenna strikes a poignant chord within the book. Despite the reader probably finding it near impossible to understand the sheer pain Jenna had to go through, her vulnerability and innocence allows us to see life through her eyes. She refuses to venture too far outside and prefers to remain inside the safety of her own home, away from the looks that she is given from strangers. I pitied her greatly and I just wanted to give her a reassuring hug. And then we get on to Ryan… Ryan, Ryan, Ryan. I could ramble on about him but I’ll try and spare you the gushing. He’s so unlike how the typical traveller boy is portrayed. He’s charming, polite and most of all he realises beauty is skin deep. He looks past the scars on Jenna’s face and sees her for who she really is. He convinces her that her disfigurement doesn’t define her and that she shouldn’t let staring eyes affect her confidence. He seems like an older sibling, but it’s clear from how the book continues that he doesn’t just want to fill the role of caring big brother. But is he really that amazing or is he just another guy taking advantage of a scared, vulnerable girl?
Laura Jarratt’s intriguing style of writing along with a cast of easy-to-warm-to characters makes Skin Deep a heart-wrenching debut which you will not want to miss. It is truly inspiring and thought-provoking, and made me realise that there are things in life which you shouldn’t take for granted. Please read this, you certainly won’t regret it!
Thank you to Luisa for letting me review this book for Chicklish!