Title: Skin Deep
Author: Hayley Lawrence
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Published: 1st July 2021
Synopsis: Scarlett was gifted with beauty. But beauty can be taken in a day, in a single moment, by one car fire.
Now permanently scarred, Scarlett has become a smudge in her perfect world. She can see only one acceptable solution: to escape the modern world for Matilda Mountain, which is
desolate, isolated, forlorn. Perfect.
But mountains are not always as lonely as they appear. And unexpected friendships can be found in the wilderness. Friendships that challenge her ideas about perfection and her place in the world.
Can Scarlett break free from the confines of her beauty-obsessed culture to discover who she is beyond the layers of her skin?
- · Poignant new fiction from critically acclaimed Australian author, Hayley Lawrence.
- · Skin Deep follows the journey of a young girl who is badly burnt in an accident, and must come to terms with her new appearance and physical limitations.
- · Gently and compassionately explores the themes of trauma, beauty, self-worth, family and friendship.
- · A compelling and insightful novel for older readers, aged 12+.
Scarlett is recovering from a brutal car accident where a fire burnt her badly – and she’s grappling with a new world of doctors, physio, all kinds of therapy and relearning how to integrate with life, school, her friends and coming to terms with ideas of beauty and her mental health struggles. She longs to leave everything that expects her to be perfect, away from the world of social media and filters, the things that make life look perfect and beautiful.
Scarlett’s solution is to take off to Matilda Mountain with her dad – isolated for two weeks, away from the beauty obsessed society that her friends occupy, a world that she once felt welcome in and now feels as though she doesn’t. Everyone seems to tiptoe around her at home, determined for her to get some kind of normal back, and her family seems intent on that too. But her life has changed forever. When Scarlett meets Eamon and his family, she finds people who don’t are what she looks like, he see beyond the scars as Scarlett continues to struggle emotionally with what she has been through in a realistic and well-researched way that will speak to many readers.
Skin Deep looks at the role social media and societal expectations of beauty, and its impact on impressionable young people like Scarlett, who had been given certain messaging their whole lives about beauty and how society sees girls – Scarlett even ponders on how her grandmother’s upbringing has influenced how she sees the world – and what happens, or what it can feel like – when someone doesn’t necessarily conform to these expectations or fit in as they are expected to. This book is a celebration of being yourself, of seeing the beauty in everything and looking beyond one’s appearance. It is about acceptance, and how people respond to disability and the way disability – whether we are born with the disability like Cat, or acquired, like Scarlett – plays a role in someone’s life and identity, the ways people cope with it and the ways it is simply a part of who they are. About how society and its expectations plays a big role in accessibility. These are lessons that Scarlett learns as she navigates her new life, relearning how to do everything over the year following her accident.
The friendship between Scarlett and Eamon feels more genuine than that with Scarlett’s friends at the start of the book – and I loved the way he helped her grow and see the beauty within herself – and showed her that beauty was more than what she had been led to believe by everyone else around her. Cat and Eamon allow Scarlett to be who she is, to feel what she wants to feel without judgement – they see beyond her scars and help Scarlett begin to see beyond her scars too. This beautiful book allows readers to explore issues of mental health as well in an accessible and safe way, allowing readers to gain an understanding of what mental health struggles can be like for some people, and the feelings of isolation that we all have at times and for various reasons.
This touching book will open up many conversations and show people who might feel isolated that they are not alone and what they are feeling is valid and important. Readers aged twelve and over will love this gentle story that shows beauty is what we make of it – that it is much more than our looks.