I have read 25 novels per year for the past 40 years, more or less. I never wrote a review until now. One type of novel I seek out are author’s first novels. So, I dove into Maggie Moor’s first novel with an open mind and limited expectations – but by the end of the prologue, I had to pause.

“Whoa, this does not feel like a first novel, who the heck is Maggie Moor?” — Google “Maggie Moor” and you uncover an actress, a Jazz Singer, an elite Fitness model competitor and a licensed psychoanalyst working with people who have been traumatized or addicted. Then it dawns on you, the author of this book is all four of those people plus, now, an author. Best I can tell, this is not sequential, Ms. Moor is living all of these lives simultaneously.

OK. That helped. This is no typical first time novelist.

Back to the book. Within the first few pages, the reader instinctively understands that this book is crafted like “The Catcher in the Rye” and “The Bell Jar” in the sense that we realize that the main character is narrating their own story. Neither Salinger, or Plath or Maggie Moor overtly tells the reader that the “voice” telling their story has arrived somewhere on the other side of the plot that is about to unfold but the reader grasps this right away.

Ms. Moor has taken this technique to a much more intense place than I have ever experienced before as a reader. Whereas Holden Caulfield and Esther Greenwood are recalling a chaotic time in their life with a single voice that benefits from time and reflection; Charmay in “Skinless” is showing us all of the voices inside her head and using sentences that are jumpy and twisting and convoluted in the way that our minds work in real time. Charmay’s “narration” is raw and instant and complicated. Salinger and Plath give us wonderfully crafted sentences. Ms. Moor gives us chaotic, broken sentences that have no benefit of reflection – she gives us a real internal voice and Ms. Moor is relentlessly consistent about this until the epilogue.

Did you ever wish you could read the mind of a beautiful and complicated woman in real time while you were in the room with her? Hah! Be careful what you wish for because Maggie Moor is the genie that somehow made that wish come true.

This is a thrilling and realistic story about living on the edge in New York City in the 1990’s told by a very compelling woman who is drop dead gorgeous and intelligent but otherwise a victim of mental and physical abuse that got dumped into the streets with only her wits to survive and she is very busy doing just that – surviving amidst the chaos of the streets and the chaos in her mind. Charmay has invented “Cindy” who is a successful stripper at those high-end gentleman’s clubs that sprang to life all over NYC in the 1990’s. It’s a great story with compelling characters but I did not write my first review ever because of that.

I wrote this review because this story is told entirely from inside the mind of Charmay, crafted in the moment, thinking and reacting in real time, using multiple voices (not personalities, except for Cindy, just voices) that comprise her very complicated personality and character. This is a writing exercise that would intimidate an author writing their 10th novel but Ms. Moor has pulled off this legerdemain gracefully, compassionately and compellingly. That’s why serious readers need to read this novel. “



Skinless: The Story of a Female Survivor. My Why?

What is Skinless: The Story of a Female Survivor about?

The story is told through the eyes of Charmay, a strong young woman who lives out loud to her own drumbeat, navigating an unconventional life while pursuing her goals of singer/ songwriter at the turn of the Millennium in New York City. Homeless and hitchhiking since her mid teen years, riddled by childhood improprieties and self hatred, Charmay has a chip on her shoulder that empowers her with a keen sense for survival, knowing who the predators are and how to makes tough choices to protect herself in each iconic and gritty New York City experience. A true survivor, Charmay grows through each obstacle and emerges with a deeper sense of self and confidence that only true life experience and reflection can attain.

Why did I write “Skinless?”

I wrote the character Charmay, and the story “Skinless” as an inspiration to young women, that no matter what life has dealt you, it can become your super power, giving you a strong sense of self protection, confidence and conviction for your goals. None of us can escape our past and many lessons can’t be taught except in life experience. I wrote the character Charmay and “Skinless” to help encourage young women to talk about their experiences, and choices.