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Skin by Donna Jo Napoli

by Donna Jo Napoli
official site | goodreads

Format: Kindle, ARC
Published: August 6th, 2013 by Skyscape
Genre: YA, lit
DISCLAIMER: I'd personally place more towards the New Adult Genre because of some of the situations.

Amazon | Kindle | Book Depository

"My lips are white. Sixteen-year-old Sep stares into the bathroom mirror. It's not some weird lipstick (she never wears lipstick). Her lips are just white. In a panic, she digs up an old lipstick and smears it on her colorless lips. But soon, more and more white spots begin to bloom, spreading their chalky tendrils across her olive brown skin. Does she have a disease? Is she turning into some kind of freak? Sep is usually the one who knows all the answers. With a quicksilver mind and a supple body, she's happiest when she's delving into the mysteries of animal biology or giving herself over to sweet, hot moves in Jazz Dance Club. Unlike her best friend, Devin, she's never been in a rush to get a boyfriend. But as the white blotches spread, her dating days, like the endangered species she studies seem numbered. So when Joshua, a boy she's always liked, makes a flirty advance, she wonders: why not grab pleasure while she can. Frank, funny, and full of passion, this is the empowering story of a strong gifted teen who, as her life spins out of control, desperately tries to prove to the world and herself that she is deeper than skin." -goodreads


“I’m reading about skin because my skin in my enemy right now. And what’s the old saying: Know thy enemy.” (loc. 2300)
Sep wakes to find she has white lips. Her world, and her outlook of it is forever changed. This is a coming-of-age story and a finding-your-worth tale. Sep must not only learn to deal with her troubles, even as they seem to get worse, but to learn to trust people and their perception of her.
“‘Hair and nails are dead. But your skin is alive. Live things have a dignity. They demand respect.’” (loc. 2169)
This book was so difficult for me. There’s so many contradictory feelings (both for me as the reader, and with what happens in the book,) that it was a little difficult on how to rate this book. In the end, after thinking about everything, it was an okay book, and thus I give it two stars. I found the book difficult to read through because I just kept getting madder and madder at Sep’s character, and with the plot not really progressing towards anything promising, I felt it drag. First off, I really liked that the author took on a real-life challenge and, I guess, real-life situations. This is no fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal book, it’s real and it could happen (well, I guess the disease could happen, I don’t know about the rest of the sequence of events.) I absolutely did not like the way the character handles her situation, and her attitude (especially when she failed to compare with other people with terminal illnesses) felt disgusting. I still call insta-love on the whole Joshua situation, even if they did know each other when they were little. They haven’t talked to each other in six years, and then suddenly, SUDDENLY, he takes an interest in her and she steers her life to have sex with him, a lot, after only two weeks. Her actions feel so insincere, deplorable, and unrealistic (unless that’s just the type of person she was... which earlier in the book she wasn’t because she’s always complained about how weird she is, and how she’s never had boys even look at her, and how she’ll never have a love-life.) Also, back on the contradictory note, she just tells her friend Devin on their first day of school, “We’re sixteen. There’s time.” and “You’ve got time to fall in love.” and yet two weeks later she’s in an instant physical relationship just because she doesn’t feel beautiful. I don’t see this as a good message at all.
“I’m an egotistical pig. And I can’t blame that on vitiligo.” (loc. 2289)
I suppose it’s not surprising that I cannot find anything about Sep that I like. She complains constantly, mostly about being liked and people not knowing her, even though she’s constantly around people/friends, and even on her first day of school as she’s whining about not having people noticing her, she says “nine hundred people say hit to me, so I have to at least nod.” (loc. 4164) After that contradictory instant, her character and personality, for me, only declines. Her moodiness is understandable, of course because of her skin condition, but I just don’t like how narcissistic and self-centered she becomes. On an unrelated-maybe-related note, the repetition of the phrase “nine hundred” became extremely tiring. But maybe that’s just me. I believe the author’s writing style is good, readable and has a great rhythm to how she tells the story. She seems to want to take on life situations, which is a good change, so I would have no problem with picking up any of her other works. I guess it’s just how this particular story was overall executed that put me off.
“Vitiligo waits for no man. Or woman. Forget biology. Time’s up.” (loc. 2676)
There was a point in the book where I seriously considered to stop reading, both because I was angry and because I was bored. I kept reading, and in a sense I’m glad because of how things turned out, and how her character turned around. I didn’t like how it transitioned to this phase, because it felt like she did a complete 180 in one day, like we the readers are suppose to just forgive and forget in the span of a paragraph. In the end, I liked the concept of the book and where it landed, but how it got there proved really off for me. 

First Line: “My lips are white.” (loc. 88)
Last Line: “‘It’ll be ready by the time you get here.” (loc. 4149)

Galley provided by NetGalley via Skyscape, Amazon Children’s Publishing

 *Quotes are from uncorrected advanced galleys and may change before going to press. Please refer to the final printed book for official quotes.

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