Adrienne Maria Vrettos,
(Margaret K. McElderry, 2006)

Fourteen-year-old Donnie is fairly invisible. He and his sister Karen escape together during their parents' blow-out screaming matches -- but when Karen is with her best friend Amanda, Donnie becomes invisible to them.

Donnie had two best friends last year. Chris and Bean are "best friends with each other, and I'm best friends with the two of them at the same time. Not individually, though, because they already have each other." This year, however, Chris and Bean decided to move up in the pecking order, which necessitates having someone like Donnie below them to cement their status.

Skin is an unflinchingly honest look at family dynamics and formative friendships. Dad never had a father of his own, so parenting is shaky territory. Mom is desperately concerned with saving her marriage and getting her teen daughter to eat. Karen creates a web of lies about her health, always full of excuses about how she just ate at Amanda's or doesn't feel up to having food right now. Karen's weight is ready fodder for arguments between Mom and Dad.

All of these tensions render Donnie, our narrator, to the the background at home, at school and in life. Skin is a story of survival. How much can one teen absorb before he stands up to shake up the world?

by Jessica Lux-Baumann
2 June 2007

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