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Sunday, March 17, 2013

REVIEW: Lovely, Dark and Deep


This is not the type of book I would normally pick up, but Simon & Schuster sent me a copy in hardback (probably because I was on the list to get a copy of Touching the Surface) and so I decided I'd give it a try. For what it is - a very dark, but ultimately hopeful story of a girl working her way through tragedy - it was flawless.

Mamie/Wren (she has sort of a dual identity) is holed up in her artist-father's house in Maine, basically trying to disappear after a horrific car crash. I won't give you the details because finding that out is part of the story.

Her parents want her to return to normal, but Wren feels like life is pointless. She makes no effort at the expense of those around her. Her only solace is running through the winter woods, and eventually she comes to enjoy her quiet job at the library. Being quiet is how Wren maintains her grip on sanity. When she finally starts to emerge from her funk, Wren realizes how terrible she's been to everyone around her, and feels worse again.

In the midst of it all is Cal. He's a few years older and is sitting out a semester of college because he has MS - the same disease that killed his mom. Despite Wren's terrible attitude, Cal is drawn to her because he understands her pain and her mix of feelings. We don't see romance here in the sense of stolen kisses or unbridled lust. What we do see is 2 broken people who want to be together but don't really know how.

The ending is wonderful in a not-perfect way. I cried many times reading this book. Not hard, just a tear here and there, but it was that powerful.

McNamara has an MFA in poetry, and so this story reads lyrically, almost like an unrhymed poem in paragraph form. Which for me was perfect, because I'm not a huge fan of poetry, but this was amazing. Here's an idea of the writing from a part in the book where Wren's mom has come into town and they're out to dinner.

"I look around the dining room. People seem to be ignoring us. Of course, she had to take me out. Said it that way. Had to.

I can't say anything she'll want to hear. I used to be good at it. Toed the line. But I can't pull it off anymore. There's no good answer. Nothing that will make her stop worrying. I've been living. That's the best I've got. Feels like a lot."

Check it out on Amazon or Goodreads.  Or find Amy McNamara on her website.


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