By Donna Jo Napoli
Available now from Skyscape (Amazon)
Donna Jo Napoli was one of my favorite authors in middle school and high school. She's probably one of the authors who gave me a taste for fairytale retellings. But SKIN is a departure from her normal fare. It's a contemporary, and a sexy one at that.
Because I was familiar with Napoli's work and picked it up based on her reputation, I wasn't sure if SKIN was a paranormal or not when I began it. When it starts, heroine Sep wakes up to find that her lips have turned pure white. She covers it up with lipstick, but soon other spots start showing up. She doesn't know whether she's dying or not, and then she doesn't know whether she can keep hiding.
I really enjoyed SKIN. Sep's fear is understandable, and consuming. It pushes her to live life fast. At the same time, she starts to become less fearful as she risks new experiences and finds things that make her happy. She makes new friends, gets a boyfriend, and finds an unlikely mentor at a makeup counter in the mall.
SKIN is definitely for older teens. It has messages that are good for young readers, and just as relevant for them, but it is four-alarm fire hot. She wants to do everything she can with Josh before her secret gets out. At the same time, I like that the book is clear that she has the maturity to use protection. At the same time, she's pretty immature about how she treats Josh. It's nicely realistic.
I think SKIN is a terrific contemporary read. Sep has a great, relateable voice. There are no real villains, but there's still plenty of conflict. Everything ends slightly messy, but Sep completes a moving emotional journey.