Oh wow, I love it when a book comes along and surprises me so completely. Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt so much more than I was expecting it to be and I loved it entirely!
Right from the first page with an incredibly emotional and hard-hitting first sentence, I was emotionally connected to this story. First with Jenna's character, but also Ryan's. I loved the dual-perspective of the story, seeing how each character thinks and feels and reacts to certain situations.
Jenna is 14 and on a terrible night, she is involved in a car accident that leaves her face permanently scarred and her best friend dead. She's been shut up in the house for months wearing a mask on her face, hoping that his scar will fade and heal. Now that her mask is off, she doesn't like to go outside or see people, worried that everyone is staring or talking about her. The tragic car accident and the loss of her friend and the changes in both herself and her family are still things that affect Jenna still. Jenna stole my heart almost immediately. I really felt protective of her and wanted the best for her.
In a different way, Ryan is used to people staring and thinking badly of him because him and his mum are travellers. Everywhere they go, the two of them are treated badly and forced to leave when the community inevitably bands together to cause trouble against them. Ryan would love nothing more to settle down somewhere, especially as he's still reeling from the loss of the only father-figure he's known. I really felt for Ryan. It must be quite hard for him, but he's also so lovely and responsible and caring, both for his mother and for Jenna.
I really loved both of these characters, and especially how wonderful their relationship steadily grows. It is really based in friendship and spending time with each other. I thought the two of them were utterly adorable and sweet together. It was really nice to see this friendship with Ryan (with his openess and his straight-forward ways!) really give the boost in confidence that Jenna needed, especially with the growing feelings of unease from other people in her town.
But this book isn't just a beautiful love story, it's also about friendship and what it means to be beautiful and also about how appearances can be deceiving. I seriously love this book and I urge you all to read it as well!