Member Reviews

Fantastic read! The LGBTQIA+ rep is palpable with this one. I feel as if the author created a beautiful space for SO MUCH queer representation. I was here for every step of the way.

4 stars!

Was this review helpful?

The Skin and Its Girl is a creative feat, a unique novel even within its genre, literary fiction, a genre well known for its diversity and breadth. Perhaps for that reason, this is a novel for a selective reader, one who does not possess fixed expectations or a very firm hold on the physics of reality.

This is a book of metaphors. It is literary fluid.

The novel revolves around the existence of a girl who should not exist, a girl with blue skin. It is an epistolary novel, written by the girl to her aunt, a woman who has functioned as her mother, guardian, defender. The blue-skinned baby is born into a world, her personal individual world is marked by the disintegrating relationship of a man and woman, her father and mother. Much of the novel revolves around their sheltering of their child and the tensions produced by varying relatives’ opinions about the girl’s interaction with the world.

Being written from a child’s perspective, though in retrospect, the novel’s prose possesses a kind of surreal, dream-like quality. Conversations are sliced into snippets, images are partial and incomplete, events are smudged down to the primal feelings they invoked, much as things might be in memories. But — and this is where a mature, independent reader will find the novel intriguing — this incompleteness allows and challenges the reader to sift through these bits and pieces to find the connections that bind the protagonist to her aunt, to her mother, to the world at large “out there” that she is prevented from seeing.

I will leave it to the reader to see what becomes of this strange blue-skinned girl.

Overall, my review is a mixed one; its creativity is singular, but its delivery is difficult. Much of the story unfolds slowly and without a predetermined destination, yet, this mimics the life it documents — a life that is not meant to exist, has no purpose but to simply be and by being is an affront to others’ sense of being.

Was this review helpful?

this book is beautifully written. With lush prose told through multiple generations, Cypher explores what it means to find "home" while staying true to our identity. definitely a more vibe less plot type of book, but I find the explorations of identity compelling

Was this review helpful?

Thank you Sarah Cypher, Ballantine, and NetGalley for this arc in exchange for my honest review!

I thought the writing in this book was beautiful. There were so many themes discussed and I thought they were well done. I did think there would be more magical realism, but there wasn’t and that’s fine. I did find the pacing to be off and it made the book feel way longer than it was. It was a good book, I just don’t think it was the right book for me.

Was this review helpful?

Unfortunately, I just could not get into this book. DNF around 20-25%. What I read was slow, and that POV type is already hard when it's to me the reader, but to me as the reader as someone else...Yeahno.

Also, purely anecdotal, but I only personally am aware of two people who read it at all, but they did both finish it. They agreed it was slow and were tempted to give up on it. One said they liked it and may recommend it, and the other said it was okay and probably would not. Being pro-Palestine, I wanted to continue, but alas. We've only so much time in this life.

Was this review helpful?

I’m not one to DNF books, but I don’t see myself enjoying this read at the moment. The prose is extremely dense, and I just didn’t have the focus to push on. In any case, free Palestine.

Was this review helpful?

This was a very unique story that bordered on being 'too much' for me as a reader. I think the second person narrative distracted me at times. I found myself loving parts, and I can distinctly remember certain scenes but now reflecting overall I can't even tell you what the outcome was. No discernable plot per-se in my opinion, many different stories and histories woven in.
Definitely not my favorite, but I did end up listening to the audiobook so I could've missed certain clues and cues at parts that seemed to confuse me.

Was this review helpful?

I have no idea how a novel with such a strong start, became so horrible.

The first 15 pages or so are pretty amazing but soon after the prose becomes too heavy, the story is hard to follow, and it just becomes boring. The second person narration may have been a bad choice.

Was this review helpful?

A tough read with it’s jarring subject matter but a deep and poignant piece of work that I devoted from start to finish.

Was this review helpful?

This literary fiction with fantastical touches is a quiet reflection on family, legacy, and identity. It's a truly unique book with some thought-provoking narrative choices. I think the fantastical bits could have been taken further because they really brought out some interesting themes. It's the kind of book you finish and immediately want to discuss with someone else who's read it, which makes it a success to me!

Was this review helpful?

2.5 stars, rounding up! Love the concept, but the execution was a bit difficult for me. Not sure if it was the 2nd person POV but I had trouble following this one the further in I got. (I read this in short bursts as well, so maybe if I'd powered through it would have felt more cohesive?)

That being said, the prose is gorgeous without feeling pretentious and had some descriptions of generational trauma/dealing with a family member's mental illness that punched me in the gut. Solid debut novel, not my cup of tea but could be someone else's!

Was this review helpful?

Special thanks to Random House Publishing, Ballantine Books and NetGalley for the ARC of this book.

I really liked this book. The author Sarah Cypher was able to weave myth and facts together in such a great way..

This story of the Rummanis, an Arab family with a daughter. born blue! I loved learning about ancestry, religion, family, her sexuality.

What a wonderful story!

Was this review helpful?

a family saga following Rummani women and exploring their complicated family dynamics. A well-written literay fiction that kept my attention from start to finish

Was this review helpful?

This is an interesting story, with poetic flare, that tells the tale of a family that moved from Palestine to the US. The story is told when the granddaughter goes back to her great aunt grave to remember the past and decide what she should do next. The granddaughter was born with blueish skin, hence the title of the book. I think that at some points the story seems to be a bit too poetic to follow, but it is nonetheless an interesting tale, that takes about immigration, sexuality, heritage, and other aspects of life.

Was this review helpful?

I wanted to love this book (it sounds like something that would be right up my alley), but unfortunately I found it took me a very long time to finish it. It wasn't a "bad" book by any means, but I wasn't motivated to pick it up often. I was much more interested in the stories of Palestine and the older women in the family - the girl with blue skin just didn't hit for me. I hope it works better for other readers, and I would definitely try this author again if she writes another book!

Was this review helpful?

“Here I am. You're lying six feet down, but I'm still carrying some version of you around because you made sure I needed you this much.”

I adored this book so much. Told from the perspective of a Palestinian-American woman speaking to her deceased aunt’s grave as she faces a life changing decision, Cypher takes you on a journey through both Betty and her aunt Nuha’s life in a compelling and lyrical way. The themes of familial obligations, the importance of heritage, and self-discovery were a huge part of the story, but mostly it was about how we sacrifice things we need for what we think we owe others, and at the same time how our own self serving choices can exist in tandem. It makes you wonder, do you ever really know someone at all?

Coupled with touches of magical realism, The Skin and Its Girl is an absolute masterpiece.

Thank you NetGalley and Ballantine Books for this arc!

Was this review helpful?

The Skin and Its Girl is a unique book. I’ve never read a book like this which we follow the main character since birth. I love the way it was written, very different writing style. The beginning of the novel hooked me right away especially the stories the grandmother told. I was lost in the middle of the book, but that does not change how I feel about the book. I loved the way the story is told, and you as the reader can feel everything.

Was this review helpful?

Enjoyable, great pacing, exciting settings kept me hooked. Intriguing novel that will be the perfect to lose yourself in. Thank you Net Galley for ARC in exchange for my honest opinion

Was this review helpful?

A beautifully written book about family history and love.

Told through the viewpoint of Betty, a girl born blue, we learn of her family’s fairytale like history. The strength of this novel was the love between Betty and her aunt Nuha. The story is told as if Betty is speaking to her aunt, which sometimes left me a little confused and made for a slower paced book.

•”I’ve not come to harass the dead. But in spite of my skin and my density and a lifetime of being stared at, I’m still human.”

One of the best stories told was Betty’s friendship with a pen pal in grade school. The feeling of being an other was told with such honesty. The author also has a wonderful sense of humor woven throughout the book. Never missing an opportunity to make a joke.

•”Don’t ever forget the Eleventh Commandment: Make your own cash.”

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys family epic’s. And books written in the second person. Maybe read the first page or so to confirm that you like the writing style.

Was this review helpful?

I really wanted to love this book. The idea was super interesting and the topics that it explored were great. It just fell super flat to me. I had to force myself to finish it and ended up just skimming the end. The pov made it super hard to follow along and I could never tell if it was in the past or present. The writing style also just took me out of the book and was hard to follow along. I feel bad rating this book so low and I’m so upset it didn’t live up to what I expected. Don’t let this review stop you from reading it
though!

Was this review helpful?