Young love done right

Summer Skin – Kirsty Eagar
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 1st 2016 by Allen & Unwin

Jessica Gordon is 19, attending Unity University College, coming out of a horrid relationship and is not looking forward to anything but having a good time, hanging with friends and getting through her studies. She is also seeking payback on the guys from Knight’s College for an incident that happened to her friend last year. Meeting a good looking guy from the detested Knight’s College was certainly not in her plans. What happens is a girl meets boy romance that does not fit into the normal conventions of a romance story.
There is a lot to like in Eagar’s Summer Skin. The all the characters come with baggage, lots of emotional baggage, it is relatable and very real. What I did like that it was not angst ridden in that Bella/Edward Twilight way where Bella became completely unable to function. No, Jessica remains feisty, true to herself, carries around doubts but is willing to seek sage advice from family and friends. What was refreshing was that her love interest Mitch does the same and is not all the big brooding type. Both characters display vulnerabilities and are nowhere near perfect.
There is a good splattering of female empowerment and being in control of your own destiny.  Eagar does not lecture the decisions that characters make but allows you to question the right way to respond by all parties.  Eagar scripts these quandaries out through the text and has you the reader, trying to determine the best action. I mean should the Unity girls sought out the revenge on the Knight’s boys in the manner they did or was action the victim took the most appropriate? It is not preachy and I really liked that.
Eagar’s writing is sharp and the dialogue is realistic. You feel like you are listening into the conversations. All the characters lift off the page, even those you do not meet directly for example Mitch’s mother. She is never introduced to us directly in the book but through Mitch’s discussions we know she is a warm, caring person who gives her son some pertinent dating advice.  The sex scenes are crafted with care, are racy and have a great mix of sexy and humour. My only criticism of the novel is that the last third did pack in too much drama to impede on the lovers finding happiness or not.
Eagar is able to capture the doubts, fears and the joys of that transition from teenage years into adulthood. Strong messages to both women and men about individuality, independence, sex and respect are conveyed without being preachy.  Eagar certainly knows her target audience, can speak their language and has provided a fresh and unique voice in the young adult romance genre.

You can find more about Kirsty Eagar at her website.