CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 2. . . .September 10, 2010.
Skin Deep. (SideSreets).
Sandra Diersch & Gerri London.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2010.
154 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55277-474-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55277-475-5 (hc.).
Grades 7-10 / Ages 12Ė15.
Review by Laura Dunford.
ďI need you to listen very carefully to what Iím going to tell you,Ē their mom began. Her voice was suddenly raspy and soft.
Their dad reached over and took her hand, holding it between his own, as if giving her the energy to keep going with what she had to say. Corinne stared at their clenched hands and she knew even as her mother said the words that this was going to change their lives. She had never seen her parents so serious before. Suddenly, Corinne was more scared than she had ever been in her life.
Corinne and her best friend Romi have big plans for the summer before they start tenth grade. They are tired of being invisible at school and are ready to transform themselves and join the popular crowd. However, Corinneís plans are quickly quashed when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer.
This creative collaboration between Diersch and London realistically portrays Corinneís development in the aftermath of her motherís diagnosis. Corinne is an entirely believable 14-year-old Vancouverite dealing with familiar issues in a relatable way. Her growth from an insecure, body-conscious girl into a mature and strong female character is expertly executed in this short novel. Corinneís transformation is subtly drawn out as she and her family become consumed by her motherís condition and learn to make difficult decisions, abandon former friendships and develop new relationships.
While sustaining the importance of hope and a positive attitude when faced with breast cancer, Diersch and London are equally skilled at communicating the serious nature of this disease and are explicit in some of the more devastating consequences of treatment. For instance, Corinne and her mother discuss the loss of her motherís breasts and the effect that has on her motherís female identity. It is important for a teenage audience to have access to such discussion, especially if they are facing a similar situation.
Overall, Diersch and London have written a book that deals with breast cancer openly and realistically and is perfectly suited for both avid and reluctant readers interested in the subject.
Laura Dunford is a graduate of the Master of Arts in Childrenís Literature program at the University of British Columbia.
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