People have been going crazy for this book this year so I knew I had to get my hands on it, just to see if it lived up the the hype. I am happy to say that it really, really does.
Skin Deep introduces us to Delia, a child who lives with her mother, father and younger brothers on the remote island of Inishcrann, off the coast of Mayo. Isolated from the mainland by the ocean between them, and further isolated from the island by her father, Delia is besotted with her father, who dotes on her, and tells her that she is the queen of the island and that there is nobody like her.
Believing everything he tells her, Delia starts to grow up thinking she is better than everyone, and has a dislike for her mother and brothers who don’t treat her the same way as her father does. She slyly gets her mother in trouble multiple times by lying to her father and playing them off one another, a trait that will grow with her.
An incident when she’s a child causes Delia to be separated from her family and her island, and she is eventually fostered by an older couple. They try their best to make her a part of their family and to love her but she never gives in, and shows nothing but disdain for them.
A scandal in her late teens results in Delia having to move to London, where she changes her accent and her behaviour to try to fit in with the upper classes that she finds herself mixing with. She tries to hide her Irish background and won’t tell anybody about her family, fearing they will judge her and find out who she really is.
As she grows older, she starts drinking heavily, and using drugs, the results of which are having to move from place to place, falling in with the wrong crowd. She expects to be looked after, paid for, kept in a certain lifestyle that she was never born to. She never takes responsibility for her own actions, she never feels guilt for the things she does to people. She is still so full of the tales that her father told her so many years ago.
Her past does eventually catch up with her in a very surprising way, and by the end of the book, she is made to face up to her actions in an oddly satisfying way.
It’s hard to say much more about the book and the plot without giving huge spoilers away, but it is amazingly well written. Delia is not a likeable character in the slightest, she will leave you exasperated with her behaviour to the point where you just want to shake her and tell her to wake up.
The other characters in the book don’t have much of a background, and we only get snippets of their narrative, they all just emphasise what a hopeless and cruel, deluded person that Delia is. So many of them try their best to treat her as well as they can and it is never returned.
This is a very satisfying read, no loose ends are left untied, and when I closed the last page, I didn’t feel like there was more to the story, there was no more to tell, I was entirely happy with how the author ended the story. It’s not a light read, the character’s life is miserable by her own making. It’s not a feel good book. However, it will suck you in and you won’t be able to put it down. I read it in two days, and I was sorely temped to cancel all of my plans just so I could immerse myself in the book again.
I would 100% recommend everyone read it.