Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos

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Hellllllo readers, hope you’re having a wonderful weekend. I’ve had a bit of a reading standoff recently. I feel like I never have a minute where I’m not panicking about not reading and it’s a bit tiring. I want to read allllllllll the books but there are so many exciting things to do/watch/tidy. Yes tidy. I took three days off a couple of weeks ago and tidied my room instead of reading that’s how bad it has got. But it’s okay; because I’m going to delve into the shelves of my not-yet-reviewed books and bring you some that I’ve read numerous times but never reviewed. Why? Oh, I don’t know. But I can have a bit of a reading break and still bring you some (hopefully) great content. This is a book I’ve read so many times, and it’s just a bit brilliant.

I’M TELLING YOU THIS BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T ASK. I’VE GOT IT ALL HERE, GROWING LIKE A TUMOR IN MY THROAT.

I’m telling you because if I don’t, I will choke on it. Everybody knows what happened, but nobody asks. And Elvis the EMT doesn’t count because when he asked, he didn’t even listen to me answer because he was listening to my sister’s heart not beat with his stethoscope. I want to tell. It’s mine to tell. Even if you didn’t ask, you have to hear it.

Fourteen-year-old Donnie’s older sister, Karen, has always been the one person in his life on whom he could totally depend. But as Karen slowly slips away in the grip of an eating disorder, Donnie finds himself alone in facing the trauma of his parents’ faltering marriage and his new life as an outcast at school.

Donnie makes it his responsibility to cure his sister’s illness and fix his parents’ issues, letting every part of himself disappear in the process. It is more important — and somehow easier — to figure out if today is a day when Karen is eating, or to know if Dad and Mom are sleeping in the same bedroom, than to deal with his own problems. In the end, though, Donnie must decide whether to float through life unnoticed, or to claim his rightful place as a member of his family and of the world. This powerful story from a brilliant new talent introduces a memorable boy in Donnie, who, from his funny and painfully honest point of view, describes a harrowing year that leaves both him and his family forever changed.

I’m not sure whether you would class this as YA but it’s a book I have read so many times. It sings to the reader in me as to the characters, the writing style and the feel of book. Yes, books have feels. The plot follows Donnie as he reviews the life he has lived so far, carefully pulling apart the seams of his family to find out when everything went so wrong; his parents’ marriage derailing, his sister slowly slipping away from him, the sudden rejection from his so called friends. Donnie attempts to disappear, to stop existing in the world which is breaking up and causing so much negative events in his life. It’s a harrowing tale in the year of the life of a boy who just isn’t sure what to do anymore.

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I realise that all sounds a little bit depressing but this book is gold. The writing is so soft and lyrical. It moves seamlessly between past events, Donnie’s imaginary events (tight-rope walking, in the jungle with the army and the like.) It is told from Donnie’s point of view but we really get to delve into the relationship with his sister and her eating disorder which is beautifully told, but showing the devastating effects it has on each member of the family. The plot doesn’t move quickly but it does cover a lot of ground; the holidays, the fights, the moving in of the new neighbours. It gives you an honest but hopeful view of this dysfunctional family. All of their trials and tribulations  but also the bonds that help to keep them together.

The book is at times funny, a little sweary, gut-wrenchingly painful and then hopeful it helps to stir all these emotions and yet it pulls me back every single time. There are parts of this book I can still remember clearly now even though it is a year of so since I last read it. Donnie and Karen sat on the step outside in the freezing cold escaping another argument, the summer on the deck, the greatest dive in the history of dives. I know this means very little but to be able to pull out so many thoughtful moments really shows what a joy this book is to read. A beautiful tale that I will continue to adore.

Liiiiiinks

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