Review: 'Lovely, Dark, and Deep' by Amy McNamara

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Lovely, Dark, and Deep
Amy McNamara

A resonant debut novel about retreating from the world after losing everything—and the connections that force you to rejoin it.&nbsp> Since the night of the crash, Wren Wells has been running away. Though she lived through the accident that killed her boyfriend Patrick, the girl she used to be didn’t survive. Instead of heading off to college as planned, Wren retreats to her father’s studio in the far-north woods of Maine. Somewhere she can be alone. Then she meets Cal Owen. Dealing with his own troubles, Cal’s hiding out too. When the chemistry between them threatens to pull Wren from her hard-won isolation, Wren has to choose: risk opening her broken heart to the world again, or join the ghosts who haunt her.

The Big Picture:

Only reason I started to read this book because is about a girl named Wren. I'm always interested in books about Wrens. I always like comparing myself to her/him and figuring out what we have in common.
I was surprised by this haunting book. It was quite good. I felt a connection to Wren. I felt like she was me in a way.
I liked her transformation. It was slow and steady. It changed in subtle ways.
The romance wasn't something I liked necessarily. I felt like it was uncalled for and rushed. Not that Cal wasn't interesting or anything.
And the plot was a bit dull. It was slow for sure. And nothing really happened.
This book stunned me. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did.
But the one thing I got from this book was this: there is always hope.

The Dirty Details: 

As I went through this book, I felt a connection to her. To Wren. I am her. And she is me. In a way. We are both creators. She takes photographs. I write. We make things. We make beautiful things seem haunting. We make haunting things seem beautiful. We make the world look different. (Or so I hope.)
I knew that I would grieve like she did. I felt like I would cut myself off from the world if I had a loved one die. I would stop speaking. I would mope and listen to music and read. I felt like our reactions would be the same.
It wasn't just ours names. Sure, that probably helped my feeling of connection. It wasn't just that people called us Wren even if that wasn't our legal birth name. It was her emotions. Her reactions. I saw myself in her shoes. (Not that I'd get a boyfriend at all. I mean...I'm still me. She's still her.) There was just something about her. Her vulnerability. Her quiet. I wanted to hold her close and protect her. I felt like her overprotective older sister.
Not that I didn't like the connection. I did. I thought it was great work on the author's part. It's hard to make me feel so strongly about a character.

Her transformation was slow and steady. She started off distant. Mute. She slowly came out of her shell. First with Cal. Then with Mary. Then with Zara. She came out. She gained life. I loved that. The transformation showed that grief isn't a terrible monster sitting on your back. You can push grief off and become someone new. Wren wasn't Mamie anymore. She was Wren. She was reborn. Like a phoenix. (My favorite mystical creature.)
In the end...there was hope. Hope for love. Hope for the future. I want to know where the world takes her.

The plot was a bit dull. It followed a slow story with Wren trying to make sense of the world. There wasn't much going on. She took such a passive path through life. I felt like she wasn't really living at times. I wanted her to recover quicker, but grief affects us differently. I can't say I wouldn't mope. I've never been through her sort of grief. (Or any grief for that matter.)
I wanted more drama. I wanted a fight. Maybe a parents vs Wren fight about college? Or a fight about her life choices? Her parents seemed drained, though. They didn't want to push her too hard. That's what happens with an only child. You can't push too hard. They don't have a supportive sibling to help them out. It's just you and them. (And I know how it feels to be an only child. I am one.)

I didn't like the romance. I felt like it was rushed. How long did they know each other? A few months? A few weeks? I'm not sure. These two barely met before they kissed. They barely talked. What made Cal like her? What did she like about Cal? Was it because they were both sick and tired and miserable? Or was it something else? This was never explained.
These two didn't have chemistry. Sure, Cal made Wren happy, but it never seemed to last. Her mood was a roller coaster, going up and down at random points in time. Nothing was set in stone with her.
I know that Wren and Cal helped each other, though. He made her happy in short bursts. She made him forget. They helped each other in their time of trouble. Maybe that's all that matters.

The ending shocked me. I have to admit that. I was confused. 'That's the end?' I thought. 'How can that be the end?' It was such a drop. I felt like there wasn't a floor anymore. I was stranded and lost. The story just ended.
I realized, though, after I put down my phone that the author left it open for many reasons. You're left with questions. (Many questions.) But you feel the hope, and you know Wren will get better and so will Cal. You feel it in your gut.



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