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Shortlisted for Romantic Novelists Association Award 2013: The Young Adult Romantic Novel

Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Stunning romance which deals with disfigurement, prejudice, mental illness, and recovering from tragedy. Highest possible recommendation.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: March 2012
Publisher: Electric Monkey
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781405256728

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14-year-old Jenna survived a car crash which killed her best friend. Sometimes, she wishes it was her who was dead. Because the crash left her face scarred, and she can't stop feeling like a freak. As if that wasn't hard enough to cope with, her dad is out for justice and has set up a pressure group in response to the light sentence given to the driver of the car she was in - and the youth is responding with intimidation. Just as she hits rock bottom, though, 16-year old New Age traveller Ryan comes into her life. Could he be the person to see past her scars?

This is, in a couple of words, absolutely stunning. Debut author Jarratt takes a subject which is genuinely original, throws in a huge amount of extra baggage for the characters to deal with - and one especially shocking plot twist - and weaves one of the most compelling young adult romances I've had the pleasure of reading for a long, long time. The dual narrative works well because both Ryan and Jenna are absolutely wonderful characters - Jenna struggling to cope in the aftermath of the accident and Ryan trying to deal with a mother suffering from bipolar disorder and the prejudice against travellers which he encounters. They felt completely real and the way their relationship developed was handled perfectly, while the supporting cast was also fabulous. I particularly liked Jenna's parents and Ryan's mum, who were brilliantly drawn. I found it an incredibly easy book to read because Jarratt's writing style is absolutely superb - pacy and vivid - while I was particularly impressed by the way Jenna's disfigurement was handled with sensitivity and by the way her character changed as she started to come to terms with it.

Intensely romantic, really thrilling, and with lots to provoke thought on the nature of beauty, friendship, discrimination, mental illness and loyalty. Of the 60 or so books I've read so far this year, this is one of the very, very best. I can't wait to read more by this talented author! Oh, and while I don't usually judge a book by its cover, I love this one - it's nearly as fantastic as the story contained inside!

Lottie Biggs is (Not) Mad by Hayley Long is another superb and thought-provoking read which deals with some tough topics. For another really intense romance, Falling Fast by Sophie McKenzie is well worth a read. You might also like When It Happens by Susane Colasanti but we had our reservations.

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Buy Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt at


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