Monday, January 22, 2007
Vrettos, Adrienne. 2006. SKIN. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1416906551 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]
With an in-your-face, gritty opening scene, Donnie, the story’s narrator, comes home to find his sixteen-year-old sister has “starved herself to death.” At this point Vrettos’ story moves back in time, and readers witness the events unfold that lead up to this horrific day. Watching Donnie’s journey is painful; after becoming more and more isolated from those around him, he turns to his older sister as a means of feeling connected. As Karen’s condition worsens, Donnie desperately tries to become invisible in hopes that his warring parents will declare peace and find his sister the help she urgently needs. Eventually, it is Karen’s death and the sharing of his story that sets him free; while painful, telling his story is cathartic, and by the book’s end, readers are left with a sense of hope as Donnie forges a new life for himself. While this story has elements which are often found in realistic fiction for teens, first-time-novelist Vrettos finds a fresh way to capture the emotional complexities of Donnie’s family. And though the illness may belong to his sister, it is Donnie’s voice and his experiences that drive the story, taking readers along on a wildly emotional roller coaster ride.
Readers could research anorexia to determine typical treatments used to combat this illness. After collecting the research, teens could share their finding with each other using a variety of multimedia types.
Other teen novels about dysfunctional families:
Frank, E.R. WRECKED. ISBN 0689873832
Jones, Patrick. NAILED. ISBN 0802780776
Sones, Sonya. STOP PRETENDING: WHAT HAPPENED WHEN MY BIG SISTER WENT CRAZY. ISBN 0064462188
By Rose Brock