Skin by E. M. Reapy
Women who have felt unseen – or too seen. Women trying to figure out what they want to do, and looking for ways to do it.
In a nutshell:
Natalie is a former teacher traveling, looking for what is next. She has disordered eating, binging when she is uncomfortable, sad, uncertain. She travels, lives with her family, travels some more, looking for what feels right.
“People always hoping that others will complete them, be their other half. It’s dangerous. We’re already whole. Don’t halve yourself for someone.”
“I’ve had my own body shit too. Some people carry their baggage on the inside.”
Why I chose it:
It was part of a subscription box.
When I read the description I was a bit concerned it might turn into an Eat Pray Love situation, but it doesn’t read that way. Natalie isn’t relying on ‘exotic’ locations to help her find herself; she doesn’t try on local cultures like a costume. She uses the time to try to work on herself.
The book starts in the middle – though not in a time-jumping sort of way. Natalie has already quit her job as a teacher, and is currently in Indonesia. She’s traveling alone, and is spending her evenings in her hotel room, binge eating. She meets folks on occasion, but doesn’t tend to have a lot of fun with them. She’s not a sad person, she’s just a person trying to grow and figure herself out.
I appreciate how the book unfolds – most chapters Natalie is in a new place. One chapter she’s in Australia with her Aunt; another she’s living in Dublin with friends. She spends time living with and taking care of her grandmother. She also starts working at a gym, and while I appreciate that the book doesn’t end (spoiler alert) with her suddenly becoming a star athlete, or married, she grows, learns more about herself. It’s a little two steps forward, one step back, like life often is.
Right from the start, I could relate to Natalie a bit. Me and food haven’t always had the best relationship, although I’ve not been where she is. I have travelled alone, however, and not being the most social, I’ve spent many evenings in a hotel room, alone, eating what I found at a local convenience store, watching local TV or reading a book. Most of my time alone has been spent in Ireland, so I didn’t have language barriers, but it was still hard at times. It was also wonderful – I loved the freedom of figuring out what and where I was going each day, not having to check with anyone on my plans. And I loved having the space to think, daydream, write, plan, without having chores or anything else to do. It was fun, a bit stressful, sometimes hard, sometimes sad, but I know helped me grow. That time was a real gift, and reading this book brought me back to those times, which was pretty great.
Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it: