Set in Michigan's lower peninsula on Island Lake or the nearby town of Brighton, the cumulative chapters take us from autumn of 1965 to autumn 1966, with a later flash-forward that concludes this quietly disturbing narrative. Giving voice to the residents around the lake, many of them young people, there is a fine line of plot running through the stories of Howard, Vincent, and Frieda. From an angry fourteen-year old growing up in a large single-parent family to a lonely eleven-year old from a broken home to a girl desperate to grow up the loss of innocence, casual cruelty and political milieu, including the Viet Nam war press in on ordinary lives and the repercussions go on for years, despite the oblivious nature of some of the observers. From a drowning to the disappearance of a young girl, the characters reach out from the narrative, wanting to understand and be understood; all but Howard, who propels the plot forward, but offers no point of view.
Finely observed and written in deft, economic prose that gives voice to place as much as to vibrant authentic characters and community, Girl Without Skin is a poignant, sometimes unsettling debut novel from an accomplished new voice.