Skin Deep – Laura Jarratt
Publisher: Electric Monkey (Egmont UK)
Release Date: 5th March 2012
‘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. ‘You 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 met before.
Can he help put her world back together, or will he just break her heart?
I’d heard next to nothing about Skin Deep when I started reading it. I went in with no expectations; I didn't know whether it would be funny, sad, sweet, emotional or swoon-worthy – it was all of them.
Laura Jarrat immediately suckered me in with dual narration; the alternate chapters told in Ryan and Jenna’s distinctive voices ensured I devoured Skin Deep in two sittings. Now, Ryan is fascinating. His narration is full of the language and cadence of a teenage boy’s voice and feels authentic and so real. He is frank, honest and straightforward, for the most part, and is also sensitive (as much as he hates that) and incredibly, incredibly sweet. With the bigotry that is directed towards Ryan once the village discovers he’s a traveller, he becomes even more special.
As you get further into the story, Skin Deep becomes much more than a novel about looking underneath surface, whether that is disfiguring scars or how they live. Mental illness is touched on sensitively and realistically and in a way that made my heart ache for all of the characters that are affected. But the issue of Jenna’s scars are of course at the forefront of the novel. I can’t even to begin to imagine dealing with not only your life being changed like that, but also dealing with the death of your best friend.
The way that Jenna’s face is met by the rest of the village makes me angry and want to cry for her at the same time. Her strength and resilience grew as Skin Deep continued and Ryan taught her that not everyone would recoil from her, that she could still be loved and how to stare right back when people stared at her. There were still glimpses of a young girl struggling with herself, however – she had screaming fights with her parents, burst into tears often, and doubted that anyone could ever love her or look at her in the same way again. I have to admit that there was one point in the novel that I went ‘Woah, she’s young. Maybe I’m a little too old for this...’, but then I got over it and carried on loving it!
Skin Deep takes an unexpected turn in the latter part of the novel that really adds another dimension to Jenna, Ryan and the themes of the novel. The chapters becoming shorter and sharper as the tension rises strengthen this. It’s a brilliantly clever technique that really made a dfference and kept me racing through the pages to the end.
I finished Skin Deep with a cheesy, stupid grin plastered to my face and a conviction that I have to make sure I read whatever Laura Jarrat writes next.
I’d now like to welcome Laura to So Many Books, So Little Time to share with us the songs on Jenna and Ryan’s iPod’s:
· 'Brick by Boring Brick' – Paramore
For those times when she’s tempted to retreat into the world in her head because it’s just too scary out there to deal with
· 'Shine On' – The Kooks
Because she wishes someone felt this way about her…before Ryan turns up obviously!
· 'Airplanes' – B.o.B
This is something she plays to remember Lindsay, and wishes Lindz was still around to feel like this
· 'Never Let Me Go' – Florence and the Machine
This is how she feels after the accident
· Titanium – David Guetta ft. Sia
For when Steven is getting to her; this would make her playlist about halfway through the book when she’s feeling stronger.
Ryan: Ryan’s mix is more eclectic than Jenna’s, which is a reflection of him and because he’s listened to a lot of Cole’s stuff too
· 'Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)'
His moving-on song, to get his head in gear to leave people and places behind
· 'Use Somebody' – Kings of Leon
Without putting a huge spoiler in here, this is a track that means something to Ryan in the latter half of the book…
· 'I’m Yours' – Jason Mraz
A mood song for when he and Jenna get together
· 'Earthquake' – Labrinth ft. Tinie Tempah
This is his feel-good song; it just gives him a buzz – probably because he’s more Karen’s son than he admits to and there’s a definite anarchic streak in this one
· 'Iris' – Goo Goo Dolls
One he first discovered in Cole’s collection; for Jenna…
A big thank you to Electric Monkey for sending me a review copy and for involving me in the blog tour.