Review: Skin by Donna Jo Napoli

A young woman learns the value of self-acceptance in Skin (Skyscape, 2013), a beautiful piece of realism from award-winner Donna Jo Napoli.skincover

It begins with white lips, then a faint white blotch on the back of her hand. Sixteen-year-old Sep sets out to live and love before her life falls apart, because it will, once everyone finds out her secret: she has vitiligo, a skin pigmentation disorder that causes white patches on the body. Sep fights back with lipstick and drawn-on “tattoos,” but she knows she can’t hide behind makeup and ink forever. As Sep’s personal relationships change along with her skin, she discovers and embraces her body through yoga and her first sexual experience. Sep’s an easy protagonist to identify with: anxiety about looks in an appearance-obsessed culture plagues many teens, and Sep’s voice is refreshingly unapologetic as she both loves and hates her body, often in the same moment.

Napoli’s gracefully flowing prose carries readers along with Sep as she navigates the pleasures and pains of adolescence. I recommend this read for teens ages 14–18.

Please note: My reviews for Kirkus never appear on this blog, nor do I review books for Books Before Sleep that I’ve reviewed for Kirkus.

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