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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
She is no Kat Von D, but Kelly J. Mendenhall is inked to the bone. Skin in the Game: The Stories My Tattoos Tell is an autobiography that chronicles Mendenhall’s life from the stories behind her skin art. From her first tattoo to her battle with a neuromuscular and spine disorder, each chapter offers a glimpse into the life of a survivor as she goes through different stages in her growing up years. We are invited to join in the tears and laughter as Mendenhall establishes vivid color and writes in an evolving voice congruent to her acquisition of wisdom and experience. She can be ribald if needs be, but she is also compassionate. She questions the integrity of foundations and establishments when they put people’s well-being to the test. Her occasional use of the F word can be justified and these are not placed just for kicks or as a badge that she belongs to a defiant generation.
Skin in the Game creates varying impressions for its reader. It first draws the audience to believe that Mendenhall is just another rebellious teenager who picked up a pen to share a story in the hopes of inspiring with a “girl power” battle cry. But her story as a whole offers something far deeper. Using her skin as a canvas, Mendenhall becomes a walking storybook where the colored strokes and lines on her epidermis are stamped memories of a past bravely faced. In an age where self-centered autobiographies become a form of self-promotion at the expense of the reader, this author establishes a good balance in her interaction between people and herself. Skin in the Game: The Stories My Tattoos Tell is a self-appraisal well worth considering.