Jess Gordon is out for revenge. Last year the jocks from Knights College tried to shame her best friend. This year she and a hand-picked college girl gang are going to get even.
The lesson: don't mess with Unity girls.
The target: Blondie, a typical Knights stud, arrogant, cold . . . and smart enough to keep up with Jess.
A neo-riot grrl with a penchant for fanning the flames meets a rugby-playing sexist pig - sworn enemies or two people who happen to find each other when they're at their most vulnerable?
It's all Girl meets Boy, Girl steals from Boy, seduces Boy, ties Boy to a chair and burns Boy's stuff. Just your typical love story.
This is the fourth novel from Kirsty Eagar and I was very excited to see its release. Kirsty’s first novel, Raw Blue, was a heartfelt look at the after-effects of sexual abuse. It was beautifully written, moving, funny and confronting. Summer Skin affected me in the same way.
Jess is in her second year of Uni. Staying at Unity College, she is enjoying the uni life of studying, partying and independence. This year she is out for revenge. Last year, one of her friends was humiliated by the Kings College boys and Jess and her mates are going to get even. Her target is a blonde, rugy-playing Kings boy. Sexist pig, arrogant, and quick enough to keep up with Jess (this does not happen often). The first rule is that for Unity girls, Kings boys are out of bounds. But what happens when Jess starts to fall for him? He is everything she hates but she finds herself unable to turn away. The two embark on a somewhat backwards relationship of sexual exploration and emotional vulnerability. Perhaps the Kings boy is not all that he seems.
I loved this book for many reasons. Firstly, feisty college girls who refuse to be taken advantage of and shamed. The event in question is a horrible one, but Kirsty explores that idea that everyone deals with the aftermath differently – where one girl would call the police (or at least the college dean), another may just want to forget the whole thing ever happened and use living her best life as her revenge. Secondly, I loved that Jess is completely in control of her own sexuality and is not afraid to show it. Too often in young adult novels, girls don’t want sex/regret sex/are shamed because of their sexuality. In Summer Skin, Kirsty shows that girls often want sex just as much as boys, and there is no shame. This book is sexually explicit in parts, but not gratuitously so. Jess’ relationship is a learning curve for her, one she is not afraid to explore, though her libido and emotions are ultimately tied together, something she struggles with at times. This is an exploration of relationships, of falling in love and being challenged by the person you are with.
Where a book like Judy Blume’s Forever introduced readers to a first-time sexual relationship, Summer Skin looks at what comes next. New independence can be confronting for young adults – there are expectations and, seemingly, no limits for the first time – and this can be difficult to navigate. They choices made are not always the best. Girls are curious and this could be a book that they talk about and pass onto their friends, read in secret in the library. Highly recommended for readers aged 16/17+.
Read more about Summer Skin in Kirsty’s blog.
Review by Erin