Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Crane, E.M. SKIN DEEP. 2008. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780385734790 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]
At school, Andrea Anderson is a self-described Nobody, whose role in life is to watch the predictable dramas of everybody else around her play out, including that of her mother. Andrea’s life moves predictably along day by day until she takes a job offered by a reclusive neighbor, Honora, in which her role is clear. She must care for the garden, finish the pottery, and care for Honora’s dog, Zena. Her simple job changes as Andrea is forced to become a participant in life herself as she gradually becomes more deeply involved with the sick Honora.
From the time Andrea’s mother begins dating a man who understands Andrea better than she wants him to, to the budding romance with a neighbor boy, Andrea’s life unexpectedly pulls her into choices she must face and come to terms with, including Honora’s illness and death.
This book is about an ordinary girl who must address what is happening in her own life and shows how a deep friendship shapes and changes her on the road to becoming an adult. Andrea’s circumstances show the genuinely human challenges universal to us all.
This is a book that students not deeply involved in school activities might appreciate and enjoy. While terminal illness isn’t the focus of the book, the changes in Andrea’s life result from the friendship she gains and then loses. Those grieving after a loss might appreciate the sincere affection between Honora and Andrea.
Other books for teens about friendship and death:
Asher, Jay. THIRTEEN REASONS WHY. ISBN 1595141715
Nelson, R.A. BREATHE MY NAME. ISBN 1595140948
By Shirley Smith Duke