Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Donna Jo Napoli has her own section on my bookshelf.  I first read her in Jr. High, but can't for the life of me remember if it was Sirena (the Little Mermaid) or The Magic Circle (Hansel & Gretel from the witch's perspective) that caught me first.  I have always loved her takes on fairy tales, as well as historical fiction (e.g. The Smile about Mona Lisa).

Skin,  however, is not a fairy tale.  It is the story of Sep (short for Giuseppina) who is sixteen, and has olive, Italian skin.  She wakes up on the first day of school her Junior year to find her lips have turned white.  She covers them with lipstick, but as days go on, the white spreads over her skin.  Over the next weeks Sep deals with school, friendships, a new boyfriend, and dance...all the while feeling her time as a "normal" person will be cut short as the vitiligo takes over.  

I have to say, this is one of Napoli's steamiest novels.  Had to set the book down and fan myself a couple of times, lol.  It's a coming-of-age novel, and there are quite a few awkward firsts.  Some may be shocked by how quickly Sep takes things to the next level with her boyfriend, but one has to remember the sense of urgency she feels with the vitiligo (yes, what Michael Jackson had) spreading.

While not a fairy tale, there is some mythology thrown in!  There are references to Daphne & Apollo, as well as Vishnu & Ganesha   There was also a lot of education- on both the disease and animal biology.  For being a fiction novel, there was quite a bit of non-fiction/reference about tuna, swifts, etc.

While Sep deals with her new skin, her friendships, her heartbreak, and her passions, one thing she takes away is that Life Goes On.  There's no need to hide who you truly are.  Or as Dr. Seuss so wonderfully put it: “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”

I would recommend this to those who enjoy Napoli's other books, those interested in vitiligo, and realistic YA fiction.

Skin is published by Skyscape (Amazon Children's Publishing).  ARC provided by Amazon.
Release Date: 08.06.2013 (today!)

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