Skin by Donna Jo Napoli is the story of a girl who simultaneously falls in love with a boy and has to deal with a disease no one saw coming.
Sep doesn’t like her name, but soon enough that isn’t going to be the biggest problem on her plate. One morning, out of the blue, she wakes up with white lips, and no amount of scrubbing or wishing them away will bring back her normal color.
Sep has a disease, the results of which she can hide, but will never go away. And what’s worse is that one of the most popular guys in school has finally noticed her.
The beginning of Skin is what you would expect. It’s about a girl in high school who isn’t one of the popular kids, actually enjoys doing her homework, and doesn’t really get noticed by anyone, let alone boys.
Throughout the book, the audience can see her grow and can see the effects the disease has on her confidence, her self-worth, and her personality. Soon she’s rushing to live as much of life as she can before her skin no longer resembles what it used to look like.
Within 300 pages, Sep grows up, becomes a new person, deals with the consequences of her decisions, and has to make a single choice: Should she keep hiding, or should she show her true face?
Napoli does an excellent job of capturing the voice of a Junior in high school, as well as capturing realistic reactions from a teenager who feels that a disease with such a physical side effect is a life or death event. While Sep isn’t always likeable, her character jumps off the page and demands you to notice her.
This book does not come off as a public service announcement. There is plenty of information within its pages, but it’s not all happy endings and smiling faces. Considering what Sep had to go through in the book, it would have been unrealistic to have the ending tied up in a perfect bow. And yet the conclusion will leave you satisfied.