One day her mother, who works in a hospital cafeteria, announces that she got Andrea a part time job feeding and walking the dog of a neighbor, Ms. Menapace, who is in the hospital. Ms. Menapace lives in a big old house and is reclusive. As a result, rumors abound. Shes old. Shes strange. Andrea is torn. Shes always wanted a dog but was never allowed to have one. Yet, walking a strangers dog? Not her ideal. With trepidation, she enters the house, imagining a wolf-sized beast bounding towards her, ready to bowl her over. Surprisingly, she meets Zena, a friendly Saint Bernard. This might not be so bad after all.
Worlds colliding usually means catastrophe, but in Andreas case its all positive. Ms. Menapace, Honora, surprises Andrea by coming home one day as Andrea feeds Zena. Honora is as unique as her name and sees more in Andrea than she sees in herself. Andrea Anderson has 2 ands in her name. That must mean something. Andreas mother begins dating Dennis. Ashley, one of the prettiest and coolest girls in school talks to Andrea one day, an unheard of event.
This convergence of events has a dramatic impact on Andreas perception of the world and herself. There are more events that I could describe but I think its better if you read them yourself. Suffice it to say, Andrea learns to deal with life and love and friendship, happiness and sorrow. It is a rare book in which you care about all the characters. But Skin Deep is one of them. The writing is marvelous, descriptive, and flowing. The storyline is moving. The characters are imaginative. The ending is realistic and moving. I cant think of anything that would make this book better. Its fine just the way it is.
Away from the public eye, Andrea has her Lean Cuisine meals with her mother and the soaps. Her father left years ago as did her only friend.
Andrea’s one love is dogs, a passion that has endured even through her mother’s refusals to get one. Instead of having an actual dog, she imagines she has a dog with her when she takes walks in the woods.
This all sounds like the promising beginnings of a coming of age novel. And usually that would be the case. But in the case of Andrea, it becomes an experience comparable to having your teeth pulled. Slowly. Her lack of character (no opinions, no passion, etc…) breeds a lack of caring. If I don’t care what happens to and around her, then no matter how exquisite the plot, it won’t engage me...
For my full thoughts, please visit: http://nobsbooks.blogspot.com/2013/01/skin-deep-by-em-crane.html
In a high school world split between desirables, unnoticed undesirables, and noticed undesirables, Andrea Anderson would have to say she is an unnoticed undesirable. She believes that she is boring and plain. One day, her mom announces that she volunteered Andrea for a job taking care of the reclusive neighbors dog while she is in the hospital. There, she meets Zena, a huge, gentle Saint Bernard who seems to trust anyone. When Honora Menapace comes home from the hospital, Andrea is devastated the one thing she has ever asked for was a dog, and Zena had become her friend. However, the opposite occursinstead of relieving Andrea of the tasks, Honora asks Andrea to become her assistant. You see, Honora confides in Andrea her secret: she has cancer, and she will die soon. Andrea decides to stay, and in the process, learns more about herbs and tea than she could ever imagine. Then one day, Andrea gets to not only witness, but participate and help Honora with an awe inspiring event homemade pottery raku.
Honora introduces Andrea to many of her unique friends, including James, her manic-depressive friend who prefers to have his ups and downs than be normal, and Hughie, who is classified by Crane as a poet who resists the urge to lick centuries-old pottery.
So when Andrea finds Honora dead one day in her bed, she finds out truly who her friends are. And, Andrea learns more about herself in those few weeks than she had known in her entire life.
Crane brings a wonderful message to her story, showing readers that people are not always exactly how they appear to be on the outside. In fact, Cranes character Honora tells Andrea, Andrea Anderson, you are this and so much more. This, out of the entire book, is my favorite quote because Crane leaves a powerful realization for the readers we are so much more than what we think we are, and we can do so much more than what is expected.