2 starsPublished Aug. 6, 2013 by Amazon Children's Publishing
I've read a number of Donna Jo Napoli's books and have enjoyed them, so when I had the chance to read this book, I jumped! Her writing is usually spot-on for the YA genre and audience.
The theme of "Skin" - overcoming anxiety and anger about being and looking different - was stellar. A 16-year-old girl discovers she has a skin condition called vitiligo, where patches of skin lose their pigmentation. It's mostly cosmetic - but to a teen (or anyone else, for that matter) - the stigma that comes with vitiligo - of looking different - is challenging and scary. I appreciated the journey that Pina had to go through. And I enjoyed reading about how her parents and friend supported her and gave encouragement, even when she was depressed and angry.
In that regard, this book would be perfect for any young adult going through a tough time in life. But unfortunately, there are aspects of the book that preclude me from being able to recommend this book with a whole heart.
First, the language is very rough and vulgar. Admittedly, I am on principle very anti-cursing, and I tend to lose respect for books that use excessive amounts of these words. But I understand that sometimes these types of words are used to enhance the story - although this technique is used successfully very seldom. In this book, it was not.
I lost count of how many f-bombs there were. I don't usually read past the third f-bomb in a book, but since this is a review I had committed to, I felt a responsibility to finish the book, and so I forged ahead. I realize that teens speak like this - but does that mean that books have to sink to that level? I don't buy it. YA writers have the unique opportunity to introduce creative word use to an audience still forming and learning their vocabulary. Why not improve their language instead of debasing it?
Second, teen sex. There was way too much of this. Some of it graphic, too. One of the characters admits to having sex at 14, and the other character thinks that's OK! That is insane. These are 16-year-olds having sex in the back of her mom's car and while she's baby-sitting. Classy.
Third, the way that Pina finally comes to grips with her condition and accepts it is very abrupt and lacks believability. Literally, one day after months of anger and depression, she decides she's "coming out." And she's OK - happily ever after. That doesn't ring true to me, especially for a teenager. There is more to it than that.
So, if you don't mind crass language and loose morals in favor of a decent coming-of-age story, by all means, read this book. But it likely will not be one I can recommend to my friends.