Book Review: Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar

Book Review: Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar
Summer Skin
by Kirsty Eagar

Genres: Romance, Contemporary
Publication date: 01 February 2016
by Allen and Unwin

Format: Paperback

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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 girl 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.

A searingly honest and achingly funny story about love and sex amid the hotbed of university colleges by the award-winning author of Raw Blue.

Self-aware, confident, and sexy – it’s little wonder that Summer Skin is making waves amongst the blogging circle. The book offers a realistic take on gender inequality and the dilemmas faced by those on the cusp of adulthood. Jess shines as a heroine – she’s flawed and unapologetic, but she’s also incredibly sympathetic. As the book is set in Brisbane, fellow Aussies may find the novel even more relatable. I certainly had a blast recognising familiar sights, slangs, and events for once.

Most of the New Adult genre has been, perhaps unfairly, stigmatized as problematic for the prevalent portrayal of unhealthy relationships. Unfortunately, in my admittedly (VERY!) limited exposure to the genre, I have found these views to be true (this is really a call for recs, guys). I wish my first read in the genre was Summer Skin because it’s everything I want New Adult to be: centred on the transition between teen to adults, and the conflicts which surround it. There’s also a crucial love story which anchors the plot – and while Blondie’s relationship with Jess could have quickly dissolved into a toxic mess, the book manages to treat all the characters with respect.

Blondie and Jess’s relationship starts off with a scenario we’ve seen a thousand times before. An attractive, yet wise-cracking boy who spells danger. Check. A rebellious, spirited heroine who crosses his path. Check. Instant and magnetic lust. Check. However, the way their relationship develops is anything but formulaic. Jess and Blondie constantly squares off, not just verbally – but ideologically. Blondie is one of the Knights, a college filled with chauvinistic womanizer, and Blondie himself has unflattering views about women. Jess is a self-assured Unity student, her group of tight-knit friends has made a pact against the Knights – wanting to shame them in vengeance for events from the previous year. When these two clashes, what unfolds is Pride and Prejudice on steroids. Jess constantly challenges Blondie’s misogyny. He, in turn, crumbles some of her biases. The text offers no easy way out or moral lesson, what it offers is a fresh take on feminism and romance – and how the two can reconcile despite the odds.

The bond between Blondie and Jess is not forged on talk alone – the book gets incredibly steamy at points. Summer Skin is raw, tactile, and sensual. It also takes a very sex-positive approach. No one in this book is ever shamed for their desire, and the text is refreshingly frank . This is not limited to its dealing with Jess and Blondie, it also extends to how the book discusses Jess’s friends like Allie and Farren.

Speaking of Jess’s friends, I have to mention how much I adore Jess’s support system in the book. First, we have her Unity friends, each with their own vibrant personalities and internal conflicts. Jess’s interactions with each of them were unique, making these characters leap off the page and take a life of their own. Jess’s aunt, Heather, is an absolute force to be reckoned with – and I loved seeing how much she adored Jess. All of these relationships were complex and authentic.

Overall, I would highly recommend Summer Skin to everyone who’s after a love story that challenges them.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Romance
Impact
Overall: 4
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Aentee

Aentee

I'm Aentee, a 20-something lover of books and shiny things. By day, I attempt to prescribe books to all the patients in my optometry clinic. By night, I read books, watch TV, and spend way too much time on twitter.

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  1. says

    aHHHHH I CANNOT WAIT TO READ THIS! I actually won a copy so *shrieks happily* I’ve had a horrible first-introduction to NA. Mostly with plots that just centred around super unhealthy relationships where nothing interesting ever happened. -_- Not my style.
    Plus I’m very excited for the book being set in Brisbane. :’) I live like 4hrs from there and I’ve been a gazillion times. I LOVE recognising places in books!! (And I read so many American books that it doesn’t happen very often. 😂)
    Cait @ Paper Fury recently posted…Michael Grant’s Writing Process (Plus #BlogTour) (Plus Sacrificing Goats) (Plus Front Lines #Giveaway)My Profile

  2. says

    I’m not much of a new adult reader (I feel NA makes it all about the romance and the plot and the characterization are just pushed to the side as a result), so it’s saying something that this is one new adult book I cannot wait to read. So glad you enjoyed it so much Aentee! Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ♥
    Zoe @ Stories on Stage recently posted…A Little in LoveMy Profile

  3. says

    I’ve heard so much about Summer Skin and every review I’ve read absolutely LOVED it! I can’t wait to read it, I’m covering it for the OzYAY segment this month and I’m super excited about it. It sounds like it covers the transition between adult/teen life really well and I can’t wait to read about the feminism and everything. Lovely review Aentee!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Indulgence Insider #53 – My Mailbox is on FIRE! (Not Literally)My Profile

  4. says

    Heck yes! I’m so happy you loved it too, Aentee! I loved the approach that Kirsty Eagar took when it came to feminism and sex. I agree with you! I wish all NA books were as refreshing as this one was.
    And Blondie! <3 <3 <3 I loved him so much by the end.
    I also wanted a Jess just for myself. She was so great.
    This is a fab review, Aentee. I'm glad this was a hit for you!
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