Summer Skin Review: A Feminist Love Story for Today’s Woman

June 3, 2016 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 4 stars, Books, Reviews

Summer Skin Review: A Feminist Love Story for Today’s WomanSummer Skin by Kirsty Eagar
Published by Allen & Unwin on February 1st 2016
Source: Publisher
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Fiction
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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 grrl 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.

If there’s anything that I wished I had at university, it is Summer Skin. Finally, there’s a book that tells you that having sex is okay without being called a slut, that it’s okay to stand up for yourself in an abusive relationship, that it’s okay to tell off misogynist men while still maintaining your values. This isn’t a usual love story, and it isn’t the usual story about feminism. It’s about two individuals, learning about each other, while mutually breaking down their misconceptions about each other.

Jess is the self respecting young woman who we all want to be, but we’re too scared of being because of societal attitudes against women. I love how she surrounds herself with friends who respect each other, who are there for each other and have fun but aren’t incredible BFFs like the many YA portrayals of friendship lead us to believe. She’s even friends with a male who isn’t a love interest. I love how she admits she enjoys sex and foreplay, without being embarrassed about it or needing to hide behind excuses. Despite the steamy amount of sex in this book, I love how the act of slut shaming was discussed but it was owned and embraced – why should we feel ashamed about demeaning labels that others place on us? Because the moment you own it, no one can use that to hurt you.

Why do people always have to be good at something? Why can’t they just do it because they like it? 

You know all those NA love interests who are complete dickheads? Summer Skin actually features a romance between a misogynist pig and a modern feminist, but it throws a curve ball in the works – Mitch isn’t what he appears on the surface. While Jess schools him on his rude ways, you find out that he’s actually not as bad as he seems at the start. Yes he does say some pretty rude things to her, but then you find out that all his life he’s hidden his true thoughts and feelings behind some choicely placed words. This to me, felt a lot more realistic than the super perfect chivalrous guy who we see so often in romance. Mitch felt like an everyday person we could encounter today.

The thing about Jess, is that she’s not the perfect heroine that we often see in these books. While she has a healthy attitude about sex and feminism, she still shows her vulnerability in still wanting a relationship with a guy that treats her with respect. That’s okay as well – I’m not the only one who’s sick of seeing the brazen feminist heroine who doesn’t need a man. The truth is, you can be in a happy healthy relationship, while being feminist as well.

Summer Skin is set in Brisbane, which felt really relatable to me being my hometown. While this setting wasn’t crucial to the storyline, it was still fun knowing about the landmarks and seeing the personality of the city captured in the novel. Seeing a unique book with healthy attitudes in the university setting is also important – I’m always up for more NA that isn’t just about steamy sex and romance (although there’s plenty of that here, there’s so much more too). The only thing I had difficulty relating to, is all the talk about the Unity girls and the Knights studs, which are fraternities and sororities. I had no idea we had them in Australia.

epilogue

You’ve probably picked up by now, that Summer Skin breaks down a lot of misconceptions we have about society, misogyny, friendship and romance. I love how it addresses not only societal values about women, but about men as well and how there may be more to a person than rude jokes and ogling. It’s a book you could pick up and get something from every time you read it, and I think these stories are more important than ever for women today. I loved every minute of it, and hoping it’d set a trend for more books like this.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Thank you Allen & Unwin Australia for sending me a review copy of this book! Summer Skin is out now in Australian book stores and available at $19.99 RRP.

I’m talking about this #LoveOzYA book on ABC Radio on Sunday 5 May! Tune in at 7pm AEST on ABC Radio – via the app, online or your local radio station (if there’s sport on, make sure you download the app)! Also tweet #ABCRhi to chat with us! The author Kirsty Eagar will be chatting live on Facebook here at 8pm after the show. I hope you can join us! 

Jeann-Sig

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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26 responses to “Summer Skin Review: A Feminist Love Story for Today’s Woman

  1. I need to somehow get this out of Australia, into the US, and into my loving hands. But for now, it is ON MY TBR. Because HELL YES I want a story about these characters. They sound so developed, so un-tropey, it makes me want this book even more. And of course, have to read about those steamy sex scenes. Make Dad proud and all.
    My recent post Review: The Vanishing Throne

  2. sumlynnnguyen

    Awesome review, Jeann! I haven't had much luck with NA so far so I definitely plan to purchase this on BD after reading your review. It sounds like such an important read. Empowered protagonists and nonconventional romances are my favorite. Thank you for sharing!
    My recent post Book Haul: May 2016

    • Thanks Summer! I'm excited to hear what you think about it! I'm so glad Aussie books are being shared on TBD now!

    • Yessss I think it\’s on TBD but Amazon on limited countries. I hope you enjoy it Pili, it was such a great read!

  3. I really think that we need more feminist books in YA and NA (and the cross-over books, as well). I think we also need feminist books that don't rely on the same old stereotype of what it means to be a feminist. Feminism is a general term, yes, but it also means a lot of different things, and can mean something different to everyone who uses the word to define themselves.

    So this is why I am super keen to read this book now. Sex positive books are also needed, as well as ones set in university. There are so few of both of those books.

    And the fact that it is set in Brisbane is awesome! Now I just need a GC book and I'll be set ;D

    I'm so glad you liked this one so much, Jeannie! <3

    • I completely agree Chiara! I absolutely loved how this was a modern day feminist kind of read, because it's evolved to mean so many things you know? I think you'll really enjoy this one hopefully, although I'd be interested in hearing what you thought about Mitch lol. Yesss, I loved it!

  4. I love the messages that this book sense, and ooh the love interest sounds pretty appealing too. Who needs chivalry when you can have realistic characters? ;D (But seriously I would much prefer the latter)

    I just think this would be a great read as I head to university soon myself. AWESOME REVIEW JEANN

  5. Yesss, I hope you'll like it Cait even though NA isn't your usual thing! There are so many healthy things in here! Cait when will you ever come visit me?!

  6. keionda

    It sounds like this book really took you for a wild and unexpected ride with all of the twists and special messages that you got out of it! <3 Books like this need to be TREASURED. I think you've convinced me to give this one a try out! <3

  7. Book Blather

    Gosh this was such a revelation, wasn't it?! I definitely think we need more NA books with characters like these, that confront modern ideas surrounding sexism. I also had no idea there were sororities and frats in AU before reading this book – I think because I went to uni in the UK and also I've not read any new adult books by AU authors before this one. Are there any others?!

    • I completely agree, I loved how Jess confronted them flawlessly and fearlessly! I had no idea too – and I live in the same city! Maybe it's just a living in a university hall thing.

  8. Yay Jeann! I'm so pleased you were a fan of this book and loved it as much as I did. It's a really special book. And yes! I loved all the messages it had to share on femininity and sexuality.
    I love how Blondie was portrayed too. You want to hate him, but then he slowly opens up and it's just fantastic.
    I love how flawed Jess was. It made the book so much more realistic.
    Wonderful review, Jeann. I'll have to tune in to your show because I'm definitely interested in the discussion.
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    • There were so many great messages here especially for the modern woman! Blondie was great, it's like there are so many males who says the things he do without knowing the consequences, and who are just allowed to get away with it you know. Thank you so much for tuning int!

  9. aentee @ read at midnight

    Yay! I am so glad you enjoyed this one, especially because it was set in your city. The book was so much fun and so refreshing in its approach to instalust & friendships. It's almost like Pride and Prejudice for the modern age, I loved it!

    • Yess, it was fantastic finally to have an Aussie YA book set in Brisbane! I loved so many of it's key messages that were so important. I completely agree! Hopefully there'll be more like it!

  10. Y'all have done such a phenomenal job of promoting this book. And you know most of us are easily swayed. I can't wait for my copy to arrive! Lol.