Nick Earls creates a believable protagonist Jon, in Perfect Skin, (Melbourne, 2000). From early on in the book it is clear that Jon is in obvious emotional pain yet this is cleverly shown and not told. The precise details of his pain are slowly trickled out throughout the book. The book ends on a hopeful note as in the final few pages he seems to come to terms with his losses and is able to move forward into a new relationship.

For me the most disappointing thing about the book was the blurb. It refers to the story being funny and while there were some funny incidents, I found it difficult to laugh when you can feel Jon’s pain. Likewise the advertising for the book suggests that Jon expected to have his life sorted by the time he was thirty and he is surprised that he has not. This seems a ridiculous expectation given that his wife dies and an expectation that doesn’t have much support in the book. Did the person who designed the jacket read the book?

However I do agree that the book is warm and moving. The story delves into the issues of grief, guilt, single fathers and also explores the nature of male friendships.