Jenna is slowly attempting to rebuild her life after the car accident that killed her best friend and left her permanently scarred from burns to her face. The crash has had divisive repercussions in her village as the drunk teenage driver was not convicted, and her father has started a campaign and charity in response to this about teenage drink-driving.
Ryan is a traveller who arrives in Jenna’s village expecting the same frosty reception and prejudice. As Jenna and Ryan keep bumping into each other, a friendship is formed which gradually becomes something more intimate. When a body is found and a murder investigation mounts, Ryan comes under scrutiny as a suspect.
As soon as I read the summary for this novel, I knew I was going to love it and I was not disappointed. Jarratt’s debut simply blew me away. We are all guilty of prejudice in some way and this novel proved this to me. I have watched shows like My Big Fat Gypsy Weddings and while I know much of it is exaggerated for entertainment, I have at times been guilty of prejudging travellers. Ryan’s position as a traveller however challenged my preconceptions here and I really respect Jarratt for doing this.
The romance between Ryan and Jenna was gradual and sweet, I adored the two of them together and really wanted them both to get some sort of happy ending. I loved that both of their own issues, Ryan’s mother’s bipolar and Jenna’s difficulties after the accident weren’t just used to make them angsty couple fodder, but to put up obstacles and barriers as such issues would in the real world.
Ryan’s arrogance was well-written and just stopped short of making me think he was a jerk, but made him feel like a real person and the sort of person who, were he not a traveller and stigmatised for that, would totally be that popular fun guy at school.
Jarratt very sensitively handled Jenna’s accident and scarring and truly showed the pathos of such an event for a teenager (let’s face it, teenagers can be brutal about looks) without ever making Jenna too self-pitying.
The crime and repercussions were compelling and I was constantly trying to work out who had killed the murder victim.
Overall, this is the sort of novel I would want to write myself, the novel I wish I was writing now. It’s funny, heartfelt, poignant and completely evocative of what it’s like to be a teenager, to be judged and first love. I highly, highly recommend it.
I received my copy of Skin Deep through Electric Monkey, the teen imprint of Egmont UK, in exchange for my honest review, which you can read above. Thank you so much to the publishers for sending me this book. Skin Deep is available to buy now and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Recommended if you’re a fan of: Contemporary YA
– Katie Dale
-YA set in Britain
– Books that challenge your thinking