By Monica Sabella, A&E Editor
Most of you have probably never heard of the book, “Skin Deep,” or of its author, E.M. Crane. I hadn’t either. It’s the type of book that is easy to miss.
The cover is decorated rather simply in red, white, and green. Also, the book is generally shelved in the young adult section. In some ways, they’re right to put it there. The main character is young, still attending high school and on one level, the story is about a girl finding herself and learning who she wants to be. That’s the basis of the story from one character’s perspective, and if I were reading it as a high schooler, this is the only point of view I would notice. However, reading it in the calm of the summer as a college student, I was able to see the deeper meaning and therefore appreciate the subtle layers created by the author.
The story begins by Andrea Anderson’s locker. She introduces a few of the cliques she is surrounded by and life in her school. As you read, you begin to wonder if these people are important and consider whether or not it’s safe to forget them. Anderson goes on to describe her teacher Mr. Diego. She mentions he has a bad temper and soon after he grows so upset that he leaves the classroom. He heads straight to the restroom, removes a revolver, and commits suicide. The students are upset and confused, Anderson’s thoughts return to the memory of the incident multiple times throughout the book, attempting to find some sort of reason behind his action. To get her mind off the accident, Anderson volunteered to help care for a neighbor’s dog while the woman is away in the hospital. This is where the story really begins.
What I loved most about this story was the characters themselves. Each one is so perfect, so deep. Even when you think you know these people inside and out, they can still surprise you. I liked it because, to me, this rings true. Everyone you meet in life has a story all their own, what they choose to share with you is a gift, and should be treated as such. I thought when I opened “Skin Deep” that I would find myself amid another predictable high school novel with little to know character development outside of the main characters. But, no. This story is so much more than that.
Because, you see, the story is not about Anderson or her trials as a teenager. It’s not about the older woman she befriends. It’s about life and acceptance. Accepting your mistakes of the past, of the uncertainty of the future, and most importantly about the person you have become through those trials and uncertainties. It’s about finding your way and discovering who you are and in what way you will decide to use the time you have in this world. It challenged things I thought I knew and gave me a broader perspective on life. It taught me something about people and about life. There aren’t many stories out there that are able to bring that level of sophistication to a book labeled “young adult.” They’re hard to find, but that’s what makes them all the more precious.