Rosie and Skate by Beth Ann Bauman
Publication Date: August 11, 2009
Publisher: Wendy Lamb
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: Sisters, alcoholism, winter at the beach, New Jersey
Format read: Bought used hardcover after reading/reviewing Jersey Angel.
Summary: The summer folks have left the Boardwalk, and while Rosie and Skate embrace time without the crowds they are left to deal with an alcoholic dad in jail, first love, long distance relationships, and family.
It wasn’t until Hurricane Sandy hit and I was sitting home watching the devasting pictures of the Jersey Shore I love so much that I remembered I had Rosie and Skate to read. I dug through my bookcase, pulled out my used copy, turned it over and spotted a familar sight: the Ferris Wheel at the center of so many aftermath photos all fine and dandy. It kind of threw me for a loop.
So I started Rosie and Skate in hopes of preserving some of my own memories of Seaside Heights and off-season moments spent at the beach with my family for so many years.
Not only did Bauman succeed with teleporting me back, but she also gave me the complex and flushed out story I was looking for but failed to find in Jersey Angel. Rosie and Skate couldn’t be more different. In fact, it’s hard to believe they are sisters sometimes. Only a year apart, they don’t live in the same house since their father went to jail: Skate lives at her boyfriend’s house with his mom while he is at college and Rosie lives in their home with a cousin who has traveled up from Florida to stay with them.
Rosie takes her dad’s actions to heart, while Skate doesn’t want much to do with him. The tension you would assume to feel between these two because of their beliefs doesn’t divide them; instead it’s the fact that though close in age, they are in two different places in their lives. Skate is dealing with a long distance relationship with her boyfriend, who doubles as her best friend. And Rosie is more of a loner, going to group meetings with other people affected by alcoholism and not really bringing home a ton of friends.
Both girls deal with such raw issues — on top of everything with their dad, there’s the disconnect Skate feels from her college boyfriend and how it feels her world stops spinning because he’s not close by, and Rosie wondering if a boy will ever like her at all. Bauman made these two ladies so real without once overcompensating with language; the cadence of this story is so well-paced and so well-timed.
Somehow the sisters have to meet in the middle to strengthen an unbalanced family unit, and it’s surprising how this happens and how their relationships with others grow and change throughout the process. Skate needs to find some kind of understanding with her father, while Rosie needs to step back and not take responsibility for her father’s failings. Together, without much fanfare and without suffocating each other, the two manage to move forward.
It’s funny. For a book about sisters, Rosie and Skate don’t spend a lot of time together. Their independence from one another was really refreshing. I liked seeing these two sisters interally debate the situation with their father but also have to wade separate issues on their own.
P.S. For you diehard holiday fanatics (me! me!), there’s plenty of merriment to go around as well.