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High and Dry

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Framed for a stranger's near-fatal overdose at a party, blackmailed into finding a mysterious flash drive everyone in school seems anxious to suppress, and pressured by his shady best friend to throw an upcoming game, high school soccer player Charlie Dixon spends a frantic week trying to clear his name, win back the girl of his dreams, and escape a past that may be responsible for all his current problems.

272 pages, Hardcover

First published April 15, 2014

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About the author

Sarah Skilton

8 books256 followers
FEBRUARY 2022: SUMMER IN THE CITY, a three-book anthology co-authored with Priscilla Oliveras and Lori Wilde, is on sale for $1.99 digitally right now! My novella is "Mind Games," and it's a hate-to-love, second chance romance set during a magic show in NYC. Enjoy!

Out Now: HOLLYWOOD ENDING, a friends-to-lovers rom-com co-authored by Sarvenaz Tash under the pen name Tash Skilton

Out Now: GHOSTING: A LOVE STORY, a romantic comedy in the vein of Set it Up, You've Got Mail, and The Hating Game, co-authored by Sarvenaz Tash under the pen name Tash Skilton.

Latest solo release: FAME ADJACENT, a romantic comedy about the sole cast member of a 1990s song-and-dance show who didn't become famous.

Sarah is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a fact that came in handy while writing her martial arts-themed debut YA novel, BRUISED (Amulet Books), which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and which the Horn Book called "nuanced and honest." Her second YA novel, HIGH AND DRY (Amulet Books), was called "A dark, well-constructed mystery with a strong voice" by Kirkus.

Her first mystery for adults was CLUB DECEPTION (Grand Central), about the magicians who belong to an exclusive underground magic club in Los Angeles, and the women who love, inspire, or control them.

Sarah and her husband, a magician, live in Southern California with their son. She's never been sawed in half, but there's still time. She loves to read coming-of-age novels, effed up memoirs, and edgy non-fiction. Find her on twitter: @Sarah_Skilton

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5 stars
44 (17%)
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88 (34%)
3 stars
94 (36%)
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24 (9%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 79 reviews
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,165 followers
April 11, 2014
Following the success of her debut novel, Bruised, Sarah Skilton's sophomore effort, High and Dry left much to be desired. Quite simply put, High and Dry contains one too many plot threads to function efficiently as a cohesive novel. Where Bruised was direct, providing focused insight on the trauma surrounding a young teenage girl, High and Dry follows high school senior Charlie as he tries to win back his ex-girlfriend Ellie, help his other ex-girlfriend find her stolen flash drive, and thwart the authorities who insist on pegging him responsible for causing a classmate to overdose. Although aspects of High and Dry certainly shined, the overall effect of this story was not memorable...to say the least.

As she did with her debut, Skilton proves - once again - to be adept at navigating the tumultuous waters of the teenage mind. Writing from the perspective of a male narrator, she still manages to keep Charlie's voice realistic, witty, and engaging. It's incredible easy to become sucked into Charlie's tale - a definite plus point - and his inner struggles were perfectly portrayed. At the forefront of this novel is the fact that Charlie is still in love with his ex-girlfriend, Ellie, and he's quite sure she's still in love with him too. In the fall, however, Charlie will be attending a nearby university while Ellie is still uncertain about her future. Every moment of their relationship, then, is spent as a ticking time bomb with Charlie firmly believing that Ellie is too good for him and their relationship won't last. Ellie, unable to put up with Charlie's attitude, breaks it off with him only to find him following her diligently, desperately hoping she'll take him back. From my perspective, the entire romantic set-up of High and Dry is original. A male protagonist who feels grounded - anchored, if you will - by his girlfriend, but not to an obsessive or unhealthy extent. Charlie's own insecurities are put to rest due to the knowledge that Ellie picked him. Without Ellie, however, Charlie hardly knows who he is and finds himself struggling to reaffirm his own worth without her approval.

It makes for an intriguing dilemma, to be sure, but one that isn't expanded upon as much as it should be. I found myself wishing that Skilton had chosen to delve deeper into Charlie's psych opposed to his day-to-day actions and interactions; everything inside Charlie's head was far more compelling than anything out of it. Instead, the pace of High and Dry moves quickly, highlighting the multiple action-filled plot threads. While these aspects of the story do come together by the end - with a few surprising plot twists too! - I didn't feel entirely engaged or connected to the Charlie who went out of his way to track down a flash drive. Skilton expertly showcases the multiple facets of Charlie's personality through her complex plot and, by the end of this novel, his growth is truly admirable. Moreover, I absolutely love the slightly open conclusion to this stand-alone, tying together the loose pieces nicely while still leaving room - and hope! - for Charlie's future. Yet, my inability to become entrenched within the fast-moving pace of the bulk of this story made for slow and disappointing reading. While Skilton makes an important statement about teens during this transitional period between childhood (high school) and adulthood (college), High and Dry needed better execution - desperately. Although I certainly wouldn't dissuade readers from giving this one a shot, only because Sarah Skilton wrote it and her characterizations are spot-on, I'd encourage readers new to her work to pick up Bruised first. It doesn't disappoint in the least; trust me.
Profile Image for Ashleigh.
913 reviews13 followers
February 25, 2014
Read as digital ARC.

High and Dry had sort of neo-noir or hardboiled feel to it--everyone's up to something, you can't trust anyone, you've got to run all over the place, interacting with different social groups to get the information you need. I basically loved it. The character relationships are all super interesting...the way the school operates, all the dirt that gets dug up--just great. Different from the other stuff out there, but not difficult to read and absorb.
Profile Image for J. Taylor.
1,320 reviews28 followers
August 5, 2019
It read a tad unrealistic in some parts.
-When the cop is given the chance to bust a drug operation and he's like my men are stationed for DWI's but I'll try and get someone there. Seriously?
-The whole school cliques that are run like the mafia, the leaders of each clique have to give permission for other students in other cliques permission to talk to their group. What kind of a school, that was given a fresh start because it was already bad, allows this?
-A student was able to make LSD in the school lab.
-A teacher bumped up his students grades so he woudn't lose funding for the after school activity he runs because the kids in it are that important to him, right okay.

But when letting all of that go, it's an enjoyable ride.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sarah (YA Love).
664 reviews270 followers
July 14, 2014
I had the hardest time staying with this one. And the odd way the author structured the high school really annoyed me. I guess it's an interesting mystery. Hopefully my students will like it more than I did.
Profile Image for Kaitlyn.
23 reviews
June 30, 2014
High and Dry was really enjoyable to read. I found it fast paced, with lots of twists and turns throughout the story.
However, I found the character thoroughly annoying by the end. He ended up being cruel and pretentious and I think he was really awful to the people who cared about him.
I also think that many themes in the story, as well as how the character reacts to certain situations is not in compliance with the genre and age-group it is aimed at (Young Adult 14 and up)
This was apparent especially in the beginning of the novel (a scene at an under-age party involving drugs, violence, alcohol, sex etc - just everything bad, people!) and furthermore in the last scene.

I felt the character should have demonstrated more kindness by the end of the novel, instead of ending bitterly, even though a lot of people screwed him over. I feel that while YA books should display a reality to children and it shouldn't be happy endings all the time, there should always be a positive ending, a lesson to learn, if at least bittersweet.
Furthermore, I didn't think it was appropriate to include drugs, sex, under-age drinking, violence, etc in a novel for "14 and up"
I know we shouldn' put an age on genre. I am a big advocate for everyone to read everything (within reason), but I also think that the reason why certain titles are in a certain genre is because they follow particular rules.
I feel one of the rules to be a YA novel is that if you are going to mention PG-rated and above content
A. you should pick one and stick to it, and
B. not condone certain things, while making other things dramatically bad.
They focus so much on the main character being an alcoholic and how terrible it is, but then he miraculously stops drinking for some chick and doesn't seem to go through any withdrawals. Another character is heavily into drugs "but most of the time it's ONLY weed"...can everyone just stop and note the "ONLY" 0_o

As a 23 year old, I really enjoyed the story for the most part and understood each character. But I'm 23 years old. I just don't think it's suitable for YA. And when we think of the label "14 and up" there's going to be plenty of "advance readers" out there picking it up.
Read it, go for your life, but I think it should go in Fiction, if we must put a label on it.
I don't really want to recommend this book for this age group when I see so many flaws with it. The female characters are either submissive or "sluts" (don't even get me started on the issues I have with that little chestnut) the main character is dark, selfish, and unrealistic, and as I mentioned, the content is not addressed properly for the age-group it's set.

I don't want to wrap my future children in cotton wool. But I also don't want to demonstrate that certain things are ok by giving them a book about it. We absorb things like stories so much, especially as a YA. We really need to pay attention to what our kids are reading.
Profile Image for Andrea.
291 reviews55 followers
December 20, 2014
I don't read many novels from a male's perspective. There's no big reason as to why, I just gravitate more toward a female narrator than a male. When I read the synopsis for High & Dry though I knew I couldn't pass it up - male narrator or no.

Sarah brings us immediately into the story. Ellie broke up with Charlie just a few days ago and he is determined to find out why. After showing up drunk to a party, and being kicked out of said party, Charlie wakes up the next day to find out that somebody used his car to drop a fellow student off at the hospital and driving off. Big problem here is that this student had overdosed on LSD.

On top of finding out who framed him and why Ellie abruptly broke up with him, Charlie is helping his neighbor/ex-girlfrind Bridget find a flash drive and understand why his friend Ryder is asking him to throw a big match against a rival school.

I am a big fan of Charlie. He is a strong character with an equally strong voice. He is definitely a smart individual and is able to figure things out quickly, but at the same time he isn't Sherlock Holmes. This mixture gave him and the story a realistic feel.

What I don't like about Charlie is his relationship with Ellie. He treats Ellie as if she is his end all, be all. He already feels as if she is too good for him, but I feel like he is obsessive about getting her back. It's one thing to want to know why, it's another to be in the mind set that everything will work out all sunshine and puppy dogs. Part of me gets it because they're in high school and I've seen high school relationships of this variety, but jaded 27-year-old me was over it from the beginning.

High & Dry is a cleverly written realistic mystery with a strong male POV. It's a quick read that will be great for any kid in high school that loves to read and even for those who are a bit more reluctant to read. It's fast paced and Sarah keeps her readers engaged and guessing until the very end.
Profile Image for Dani Shuping.
572 reviews41 followers
December 20, 2013
ARC provided by NetGalley

Charlie had everything going for him: soccer star, parents that trust him, and girl of his dreams is right there with him. And then in one evening everything falls apart: he's framed for a girls near-fatal overdose at a party, blackmailed into finding a flash drive, pressured to throw an upcoming soccer match, and the girl of his dreams has left him brokenhearted. What's a guy to do? Well if you're Charlie you become a detective and find out how framed him, discover the secret of the flash drive, and win back his girl all in the span of one week.

When I saw the premise of this book I was intrigued instantly: crime fiction, puberty, and soccer all in one book. How can you beat that? But sadly...I was left disappointed. I have to admit I almost gave up on the book after the first 30 pages because it started so slowly and the writing just wasn't up to snuff for me. Skilton tries to combine detective noir with a coming of age story...and frankly it just doesn't work well. Hearing an 18 year old guy trying to talk like an old school detective, while talking about sexting just doesn't translate well for me. And while the plot did eventually pick up about half way through the book and had some nice twists and turns, the overall pieces just didn't make a whole lot of sense for me. I think there were just too many pieces intertwining together, that by the end I was having a hard time caring about the characters.

Overall, I'd have difficulty recommending this to younger readers given the noir vogue/modern that just doesn't blend well. While the story picked up towards the end, overall I can really only give this book 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Emma .
2,506 reviews353 followers
June 11, 2014
Review by Elin- Year 8

High and Dry is about a boy named Charlie Dixon who seems to have a lot of problems blamed on him, even a fatal overdose at a party seems to be his fault, whilst being blackmailed into finding a flash drive in school. Charlie is in a bit of a mess, on top of this, trying to get through a breakup too, someone uses his car to frame him, resulting in him getting mixed up in yet more problems.

Charlie’s aim in the book is to win his girlfriend back whilst at the same time help his best friend through some tough situations. I really enjoyed this book because Charlie always put other peoples problems before himself, although it was frustrating at the same time that Charlie had so many secrets he kept to himself. He didn’t know who to trust anymore. His trust issues actually made him realize he could get through his problems on his own, the ending is mysterious yet unexpected, I really liked it.

My favorite character was Charlie himself, because I related in some ways and there was always something going on with him, I wanted to find the answer to everything that was happening.

The author manages to maintain a sense of anticipation throughout the plot, with each revelation came another question adding to the tension within the story. I am going to look out for more books by this author as I really liked the writing style, it was very realistic and relatable, exactly how a teenage mind works.

I would strongly recommend this book to others because of the way Charlie was able to deal with his issues, I felt that it might provide guidance to others who might be facing similar situations. High and Dry is a book dealing specifically with teenage problems making it ideal for that target age range.
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,573 reviews260 followers
September 16, 2014
I found an ARC of High & Dry by Sarah Skilton at my local Goodwill and thought the blurb sounded interesting.

This is the blurb on my ARC copy:

Charlie Dixon is having a bad week. Framed for a stranger's near-fatal overdose at a party, blackmailed into finding a mysterious flash drive that everyone in school seems anxious to suppress, and pressured by his shady best friend to throw an upcoming match, high school soccer player Charlie Dixon is dealing with more than his share of drama. Add a broken heart -- and the drinking he's been doing to soothe it -- and he's near the breaking point. In this fast-paced, multilayered mystery, Charlie spends a frantic week trying to clear his name, win back the girl of his dreams, and escape a past friendship that may be responsible for all his current problems. This book captures the tone and style of the best crime fiction while also telling a high-stakes story of peer pressure gone tragically awry, from Sarah Skilton, the author of the critically acclaimed Bruised.

I gave it fifty pages, but I found I just didn't care enough about the Charlie or the mystery to continue the story so I quit reading, sorry. Like the blurb says about tone and style of the best crime fiction, I would agree Charlie's voice does remind me of a detective in a film noir movie or a hard-boiled crime fiction novel. Unfortunately, the author doesn't quite pull it off. It just sounds incredibly out of place to my ears.

I gave High & Dry a shot, but it just wasn't for me.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
49 reviews7 followers
March 7, 2014
I won a Free Uncorrected Proof copy of High & Dry by Sarah Skilton in a Goodreads giveaway.

First, I love the title of this novel and I love this book. Really, I thoroughly enjoyed this hardboiled mystery. Poor Charlie, our main character, is having a difficult week, exactly what was advertised in the description of High & Dry. He is stuck figuring out what the students and faculty are up to in his school and he’s not exactly happy at what he discovers.

The story is fast paced and entertaining, I found myself laughing out loud throughout the novel. I was always amused by Charlie's inner dialog and his interactions with the other characters. Which brings me to the conversations in High & Dry, the discussions between the characters came across as being quite genuine, which I can be pretty picky on when I’m reading a novel. If the dialog doesn’t feel real, it can really drag my opinion of a novel down.

Well now it’s starting to sound like I loved everything. So I will have to admit that I had mixed emotions in the end. I was happy but I was also a little sad. But that hasn’t ruined my opinion of High & Dry.

I will definitely be recommending High & Dry to my friends.
Profile Image for Lucy Swainson.
2 reviews25 followers
September 7, 2016
I received a free uncorrected proof copy of High and Dry by Sarah Skilton in a Goodreads giveaway.

A quick, enjoyable read most likely due to the frequent plot twists that always keep you guessing. The majority of the book takes place within little over a week, ensuring a fast pace as the mystery is unravelled.

The characters' relationships are certainly reflective of real-life as we are made to feel then lose empathy for various people involved in a tragic incident.

Overall, a good read, with an ending that I particularly liked; it seemed to simultaneously give closure yet leave you to imagine your own way for things to pan out.
Profile Image for Jen.
689 reviews28 followers
July 24, 2014
Charlie has had a crazy week. He's framed for the accidental overdose of a classmate, blackmailed to find a missing flash drive and offered money to throw his big soccer game on Friday...all while dealing with a broken heart.
In this noir modern, the hardboiled tone sometimes takes away from the characterization, but the author does apply the tropes of the genre well to a standard YA mystery, so I'll give her three stars for effort.
Profile Image for Precy Larkins.
Author 4 books30 followers
August 10, 2016
4.5 stars, really.

This is not a genre I normally read--noir-ish, crime thriller type--so I was pleasantly surprised to see how much I enjoyed this read. It's very well-written, with a distinct voice, and I liked how the plot twists kept me guessing.

(I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.)
Profile Image for Stephanie.
36 reviews
August 6, 2014
An extremely engaging and enjoyable read. I love the noir twist on a teenage tale, and I couldn't put it down.
Profile Image for Donna Gower.
105 reviews
April 21, 2015
I chose this book "based on the cover" for the 2015 reading challenge. I'd never read this author's previous work. It was a pager turner for me for sure. Really kept me wanting to read on.
Profile Image for Mark.
462 reviews5 followers
February 27, 2018
I kept reading this book actually could not put it down but the ending was a real let down for me, seemed ridiculous. I guess I was hoping for much more, something darker and unexpected.
January 8, 2022
Charlie Dixon, the main character, is in a fight to win his ex-girlfriends Ellie back. But he has been struggling with that since kids in his grade accused him and are framing him for an overdose on LSD. The kid that overdosed has a very very slim chance of recovery and is said that he, "has a very slim chance of survival". Charlie had always been the target for some people because of his moms position in the schools administrator office. After his moms recent targeting on re-staffing where she chucked loads of locals out of school jobs, they took Charlie the son into their eyes and began tormenting him.
They have resulted in life-threatening “accidents.” Which aren't accidents. There is a new issue arising, there has been a missing flash-drive that the other ex of Charlie, Bridget, and many other students suspect that Charlie can find. Charlie takes on the quest of finding the drive, which has jabs at the educational system which is why the students are eager to find this drive. Many of the kids partaking in this search have been granted protection by the upper-classman. Then something new comes up that will slow the kids investigations down, a new anti-bullying system was put in place, which requires students to perform certain activities during the day. Overall, the book was a great book, I would give it a 9/10
27 reviews
March 23, 2021
Drugs, sex, and soccer? This is the frame for the novel by Sarah Skilton. Set in a California desert town, this book follows the senior year story of Charlie Dixon who is struggling to get over a recent breakup while reeling from being framed for overdosing a choir girl. The school he and his friends attend is pretty nontraditional, thanks to his mom. The cliques are welcomed and are a form of protection with written and unwritten rules to guide interactions between groups. While an interesting concept, this veering from reality also veers the book a bit off course. It’s a quick read and definitely YA but it felt a bit blah in spots. I enjoyed Charlie’s character development and his interactions with his ex/girlfriend ring fairly true but the other characters were too archetypical to enjoy.
If you want a quick read that gives a glimmer of high school life, it’s worth a gander but don’t expect to be blown away.
October 20, 2017
I thought that High & Dry by Sarah Skilton was a very good book. It was about a boy and his love for this one girl, as he's starting to get his chances with her he quickly loses them because his car was used as a get away for someone who was over dosing on LSD and just dumped them out of the car. The police thinking that the boy was some how involved in it because it was his car that was used, try to go deeper into the investigation. The boy takes it upon himself to do the same as he uncovers more then he wants to know, while trying to get the love of his life back. I thought something important in this book was to pay attention to the detail and actions of what everyone does in the book, so you can get a better understanding on why the person who ends up being guilty is actually guilty. I would highly recommend this book for people who like a good mystery and twisted love story.
Profile Image for AWALL.
39 reviews
November 16, 2021
This book was beautiful in almost every way.

The story was interesting and kept me hooked from the very first chapter. Unlike some other modern mysteries, I wasn’t able to figure this one out. In fact, the last twist shocked me so much I actually had to put the book down to reel myself back in.

Also, the chemistry between Charlie and Ellie was very well written. Obviously they both want each other and are struggling to figure what that means. I think everyone who had a high school romance has been there.

Honestly, I enjoyed this book a lot and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good modern whodunit.
13 reviews
December 1, 2022
I didnt understand the plot of this book and the end felt rushed, I liked the suspense and twists though. The story went by really quick, and I don't think the characters had a lot of detail into what they looked like and the appearances of the settings they were in. Some parts were really confusing but I liked the twist and turns. I'd recommend this to others.
Profile Image for Sara.
1,381 reviews65 followers
November 20, 2014
Charlie's busy obsessing over why his now-ex-girlfriend dumped him, and he's having trouble focusing on much else until he's framed for a classmate's near-fatal overdose at a party. Around the same time, he's recruited by another classmate to find a flash drive, a task that seems pointless until he realizes that a lot of people want that flash drive and are willing to pay for its return. Also complicating his life, his friend is pressuring Charlie to throw the next big soccer game and Charlie isn't quite sure what to do about that. All he knows is, he needs to figure out all these problems, and soon, and he really needs to figure out why he was dumped so he can hopefully win her back.

This book had a very noir feel to it, which I enjoyed. It read like an old-fashioned mystery novel, with Charlie being some sort of private eye who just happened to fall into the job. I liked the various plot lines in here and thought the author did a great job giving just enough mystery to keep me reading but not so much information that I ever knew what was going on ahead of Charlie. I wanted to find out what was on the flash drive and who was actually responsible for the near-overdose, so I kept reading. Charlie's narration didn't hurt either, since there were a number of amusing statements.

The romance in here was okay but didn't impress me quite as much. I liked the dynamic between Charlie and Ellie, and I especially liked Charlie's interactions with Ellie's little brother, but their fledgling relationship didn't keep me quite as interested as the mystery. I think the problem was that Ellie was presented as nearly perfect, whereas Charlie was depicted as someone almost intent on ruining his own life if he couldn't be with Ellie; it wasn't balanced. Charlie did note throughout that Ellie was too good for him, so he was obviously aware of this too, but their chemistry didn't come through while reading, since I never truly understood why they connected or why Charlie was so hung up on her. This was the weakest part of the novel.

There were underlying themes in here. Popularity, cliques in high school, and even the question of how to measure educational progress were all touched upon. I was slightly confused at times at the way Charlie's high school was set up While it made sense for the story of the book, I didn't find it completely believable that everyone was pretty much forced to pick a group (literary, artsy, athletic, etc.) when they started high school and could only associate with people in their own group. It was very odd - especially since it was presented as being required by the school. On the other hand, I did enjoy the brief thoughts on how tying student performance to teacher evaluations could easily cause bigger problems for all, as performance on tests doesn't necessarily equate to better educated students.

There was a lot going on in this book, yet I never felt like the pace was rushed or the story hurried along. I suppose this is fitting with the noir narration, that the plot would also amble along at its own pace, but I did wish there had been a little more action. I certainly enjoyed this book and thought the story was clever and moved forward nicely, but a little more tension would have been welcome. Perhaps it was simply that, for me, the romance (and brooding over it) broke up the mystery plot and therefore cut the tension.

The ending in here was decent, and everything wrapped up in a satisfactory manner. I wish it had been slightly more "final" at the end, resolving everything a little more firmly, but this is just a personal preference, as the ending was find as written. I got more into the story as it went on, which was nice, and I enjoyed it overall.
Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,889 followers
September 12, 2016
Somehow I knew right from the start that Sarah Skilton would surprise me. Her debut Bruised has a very special place in my heart, but it is such a spectacularly unique novel and Sarah Skilton’s authorial voice was hidden so well, that I didn’t quite know what to expect. The same remains true for High & Dry. Skilton is not a conspicuous, self-important writer. She hides behind her protagonists, making it seem that she played no part in the process of their creation and giving them a life of their own, a level of realism that is rare, precious and just wonderful. A strong authorial voice (like Maggie Stiefvater’s, for example), is a truly marvelous thing, but I believe it takes far more skill to hide yourself completely from the reader and leave your characters in the spotlight.

High & Dry is a story about young Charlie, recently left by his girlfriend Ellie, prone to self-destructive behavior and alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol. Interestingly enough, High & Dry gives off a distinct noir vibe, so much so that one can almost hear a young Robert Downey Jr. narrating it. There is a certain level of darkness and hopelessness that, combined with a morally ambiguous and fatalistic anti-hero, has all the markings of a true film noir.

Our Charlie is careless, obsessive and self-destructive. He gives us very little to admire or even like. And yet, in the true anti-hero fashion, he makes us root for him nevertheless. Somehow, as he is running around heedlessly getting himself into even more trouble, he runs straight into our hearts and stays there until the end. So what if he is cynical and brooding? What if he lets himself be defined by a failed relationship? There must be an awakening ahead or else we wouldn’t be here, right?

Charlie’s ex-girlfriend Ellie is a young adult version of femme fatale, not because of something she did directly, but because of how Charlie sees her. Somehow, during their relationship and especially after, she has become Charlie’s raison d'être, someone who defines both his character and his behavior. It was heartbreaking to watch him self-destruct and deteriorate, obsess and almost stalk her.

For all his faults, Charlie is staggeringly intelligent, which in a way makes his behavior even worse. Skilton’s greatest strength lies in creating strong voices for her protagonists, and Charlie Dixon’s voice is very impressive. Believable male voices are so hard to find in YA, but Skilton got it just right.

However, if you’re expecting a repeat of Sarah Skilton’s Bruised, you should know that High & Dry functions on a very different emotional level and adjust your expectations accordingly. While both novels have angry, self-destructive protagonists, they are completely different and affect the readers in very different ways.

Skilton has proved to be a very adaptable, imaginative writer, unafraid to take necessary risks. I’ve come to expect wonderful things from her and I admire her greatly. If you’re looking for something different, you needn’t look further. High & Dry is wholly original and simply wonderful.

11 reviews
June 10, 2015
Do you like relatable and teen romance with a twist books? Well if so, than “High and Dry” by Sarah Skilton is the book for you. Skilton takes us through a fast pacing ride through a week of high school senior Charlie Dixon. Skilton does a very skillful job of keeping the reader on their toes. I picked up this book by just looking at the cover and the hook in the back of the book. This book takes place in teen relatable settings, schools, houses and parties ect.
Charlie Dixon an athlete and likable guy, finds himself spiraling down after the girl he loves, (Ellie Chen) breaks up with him. In an effort to win Ellie back and win some cash, Charlie makes a deal with his untrustworthy neighbor,(Bridget) and agrees to help her recover a flash drive that she says it stores an important college essay. However, as the week goes on Charlie discovers that the flash drive contains much more valuable information than Bridget told him. One of Charlie’s classmates went to the hospital for an LSD overdose and Charlie is framed for it. Charlie also has to deal with his long time best friend Ryder’s mysterious situation and decide whether or not to throw a major soccer game and figure out what to do after high school. To add further things to Charlie's situation, his high school seems to be segregated into like little groups. To the extent that students cannot speak to a person in another clique unless the group leader says it’s okay. Charlie is in the middle of a social scheme, and all of the hoop he must jump through to gather information about the flash drive an trying to locate it is a lot of work.
I really enjoyed this book, it was very relatable and i knew what the author was saying and picturing in her head as she wrote this book. At times though this book could be very confusing if you are not following along the whole time. This book is very high paced and hard to understand if you skip things. One of my favorite parts in the book is at the kind of at the beginning when charlie goes to the party and trys to apologize Ellie, and gets to drunk an has to go home with bridget and wakes up in the morning to police at his door. I thought this was very ironic.
Over all i thought this book was a very good book to read. I really liked how the character Charlie would think that he had a problem solved but a bigger one would pop up out of nowhere. This book would be very good for people who like mysteries and like Nancy drew books but is over the age of fourteen. This book does have a lot of things about alcohol and drugs and sexual stuff in it. I would not recommend this book to readers that are not older than fourteen.
Profile Image for arshia.
123 reviews27 followers
August 13, 2014
Sarah Skilton, has a great ability to capture exactly what it is to be a teenager. Following the complete awesomeness that was Bruised, I knew I had to pick up High and Dry, and while I didn't quite love this one as much as Bruised, Skilton seriously delivered on portarying a teenager's thought process, motivations and fears.

The first thing I want to mention here is that Charlie's voice and narration felt really authentic to me, which is pretty rare when the author is female. Initially, I didn't really like him much as a character, because the book opens up with him showing up drunk to a party trying to win his ex back. Ugh. But I was quickly won over because the plot picked u pretty quickly and Skilton executed it with pure genius. Seriously. The winner in this one was Skilton's writing style. I was invested in the story straight from the beginning, and as the intrigue kept piling up, I couldn't turn the pages faster.

This book solves one of my biggest issues with YA mystery-- too much of the mystery, but not enough of the characters. Even though this book focuses on several mysteries at once, Charlie's growth as a person, as a character never falters. At every turn of the book, we learn more about who he is, his relationship with his parents and grandfather, his friendship with Ryder, and how he fell for Ellie, his ex-girlfriend. Charlie didn't start off as the strongest of characters. He came across as somewhat of a pushover. But over the course of the novel, we learn why he is this way, and then we see how events in the story cause him to change and sort of re-evaluate himself.

Where this book fell a little flat for me is only a matter of taste. I wasn't the biggest fan of Ellie and Charlie together, and the resolutions of the little mysteries felt a little anti-climatic to me. I can't help but compare this to Bruised, which felt a bit more genuine and true to me. Nevetheless, I can't wait to see what Skilton writes next.
Profile Image for Kimberly.
860 reviews
September 12, 2016
Charlie Dixon was framed. A girl named Maria is seen being dropped off to a local hospital, high on LSD. Maria is admitted and things take a turn for the worse. As for Charlie, he knows it wasn’t him driving his car, or wearing that cap. But who wants to frame him for this? Meanwhile, school gets a little more interesting as his ex-girlfriend Bridget enlists his help to try to find a drive she left in the library. One that was stolen. But what was really on the drive? And can Charlie figure it out while trying to get his most recent girlfriend, Ellie, back? This is going to be one of Charlie Dixon’s most ridiculously crazy weeks. Hang on.

Now, I’m a fan of pulp fiction. I love a good Raymond Chandler story like the next one. So I was really excited to read High and Dry, the newest book by Sarah Skilton. I enjoyed Bruised, her debut, and am happy to say that High and Dry is clever, funny and pays great homage to the classic detective stories of our day.

Charlie is a pretty sad character when we first meet him. He’s drunk, pathetically so, and trying to get his girlfriend Ellie back, who dumped him for undisclosed reasons. As the plot thickens, Charlie goes further and further down the rabbit hole. I don’t want to give anything away so I’ll keep it vague. I really liked all the twists and turns the plot took. While I didn’t have a great sense of all of the characters, it didn’t bother me. The story is totally plot driven and as long as you know Ellie, Charlie and Bridget, then I think you’re okay.

The backstory is carefully laid out. I really liked all of the tension that is already in the air when the story begins. However it is a slow build. I liked the book okay for maybe the first half, and then the second half is when things start to get really interesting!

High and Dry is fun, easy to read and reminds me of some good crime noir with savory characters, hidden agendas and suspicious dames.

Try it out.

Rating 8 Cookie Worthy
Profile Image for Kayla Cagan.
Author 13 books58 followers
October 30, 2014
High and Dry is straight up YA noir. The language and tone hit the noir genre perfectly, without missing a very fun beat. If you like reading noir, you might enjoy this story that features high school seniors. If you like YA with a hard boiled, hyper-realistic bent, then this book is for you.

Author Sarah Skilton's writing is spare and muscular and dry in High and Dry. The plot is about the framing of Charlie Dixon, high school senior and soccer player (or "beckham"). Charlie's story unfolds in complex steps and the clues to figuring out what happened to him (and others in the story) are multilayered and smart. This book reminded me of Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch, because it also deals with the debts and responsibilities of friendship, like what Charlie feels for his best friend and possibly worst enemy, Ryder.

What I like most about Skilton's work, in both High & Dry and her first novel, Bruised, is that she never condescends to her readers. Her protagonists are given real life, gritty challenges and she don't shy away from making them work and live harder just to get through their obstacles. Both books contained broken bones. Both contain crimes. Both contain the moral and ethical questions: when you witness something wrong in your life, how do you respond - and is that response ever really right and/or just?

If you're interested in a fun, fast whodunit read, I recommend High and Dry.
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