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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Debut is Highly Recommended!!
Debut author, Amy McNamara's, stunning portrait of a young woman's grief in the most extreme stage shall touch the heart of every reader. Lovely, Dark, and Deep's Wren Wells may be a pseudo-recluse living in a secluded area in Maine with her father, but she lays her pain on the table for any who bother to see. The death of Wren's boyfriend, Patrick, and the many factors...
Published on October 16, 2012 by Lovey Dovey Books

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars BEGAN STRONG, FINISHED WITH A WET FIZZLE.
I picked this book up by random at my local Half Price Book Store. I really wanted something YA to read and I was feeling a bit romantic, so it seemed like a perfect fit. The cover is absolutely gorgeous and the summary intrigued me, plus it was only like five bucks.

My first impressions of the book were pretty positive. Wren has a fairly strong voice, and Ms...
Published 13 days ago by Evelyn Shepherd


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Debut is Highly Recommended!!, October 16, 2012
This review is from: Lovely, Dark and Deep (Hardcover)
Debut author, Amy McNamara's, stunning portrait of a young woman's grief in the most extreme stage shall touch the heart of every reader. Lovely, Dark, and Deep's Wren Wells may be a pseudo-recluse living in a secluded area in Maine with her father, but she lays her pain on the table for any who bother to see. The death of Wren's boyfriend, Patrick, and the many factors that surround his death, sends her life off-course. Living with her sculpting father, Wren hopes to get herself straightened out and back to pursuing her carefully laid out goals. Her time spent out of touch with society: friends, work, and passion, leave her parents worried and her mind close to shutting down. The aspect of living in the small town that Wren didn't count on, was finding a reason to emerge from the darkness in which she's shrouded herself.

Wren is strong, even when she feels like hiding away from the world, but she knows that her misery is something that's physically and mentally holding her back. Characters that are, at least, partially aware of themselves in such a manner are fascinating to read about. Wren walks herself towards moving on from a tragic accident, though not without help, but she pushes readers toward encouraging her, backtracks toward pitying her, then comes full circle to hopefulness that she'll finally make real progress. Cal Owens flows into the novel like a knight in shining armor, almost. He has his own story that I wish McNamara could have explained in more detail, because I wasn't too familiar with the source of his troubles, but overall he added to the path of hope Wren could choose to ignore or follow. Wren and Cal are drawn together by their similarities and differences when it comes to dealing with grief. Wren draws into herself, vowing to remain silent until she can sort through her issues, while Cal pretends his situation isn't as grave as it really is. His quick temper contradicts the calm he radiates for Cal, molding him into one of the most realistic characterizations of a love interest I've seen in young adult fiction.

McNamara's style of writing is easygoing, yet packs a wallop of emotion. The writing excellently portrays Wren's flow of consciousness through a variety of sentence length and structure. The dialogue is straightforward, even when a moment of profundity surrounds the speaking character. Knowing that the characters are saying more with fewer words lends the reader a sense of time. It never feels as though a scene is unnaturally long, or that a person in real life would never say so much at one time.

Lovely, Dark, and Deep sends a riot of emotions through me when I just think about Wren's story. Reading her story is a comfort and an experience, because it is such a possibility. This is truly a universal story that will not only entertain readers who love a sad story that pushes its protagonist toward happiness, but also speaks to the many people affected by grief and other strong emotions.
*ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review*
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OH LOVE!!!, November 5, 2012
This review is from: Lovely, Dark and Deep (Hardcover)
Wow. Just absolutely wowness. Lovely, Dark, and Deep is actually the perfect words to describe it--minus the deep and adding emotional. This is definitely an amazing book to debut with and that cover is just plain gorgeous in my opinion! Seriously. WHAT is with all these beautiful covers, and premises that I just can't resist?

The writing was so, so, SO stunning. I think it's because McNara decided to use present tense, unlike most books which use past. Personally, I love it when people use present terms. "The snow falls softly" sounds more...poetic, I guess than "The snow fell softly". And I just love how the words seem to flow more like that. So seeing that this was in present tense? Well my expectations went a bit higher and I was a bit worried that it wouldn't quite reach my expectations.

I loved the characters. they weren't necessarily far from perfect, but they had feelings that you could fell with them. They had the reactions some of us would have. Wren was such a real character, you guys. She went through so much, and even though she could be considered " self-centered", everyone has to admit, we'd probably do the same or at least something similar. And that's what I loved! the author captured these emotions, these actions, so perfectly, in my opinion. And that was...that was wonderful, for lack of a better word.
Cal, was, on the other hand, not perfect, per say, but very very close. He did react like some people would too, but...he's like, a mix of all the kind reactions. Nothing he did was ever really mean or even slightly annoying. He was just a character you had to fall in love with, sweet and so understanding, so I guess I can't complain there!

The romance was something I was iffy about. For someone who was heartbroken about her old-ex-now-dead-boyfriend, she fell in love pretty quickly. I guess I would've liked the romance to slow down a bit instead of going as quickly as it did. I expected Wren to feel denial at her feelings, honestly, so when she didn't...well, it surprised me for sure. I'm still deciding if that was a good or bad surprise.

The plot the plot the plot the plot. Lovelovelovelovelove. It wasn't like, full of twists or anything, but it told the story of a broken girl who was looking for her place in the world again. Seriously. What's not to love? The plot was just so emotional and while I didn't cry, Lovely, Dark, and Deep definitely pulled a few heartstrings. It was just...too good for words honestly. It's something you have to read to get!

The best thing was that it didn't have a happy ending after all, no matter what I thought. There's nothing perfect about the world, and there was nothing perfect about how this book ended. Am i allowed to use the word real again? No? How about believable? This story was so believable in so many ways, good and bad. I would've liked a happy ending (I'm a sucker for HEA's) but the way it ended...well, it was infinitely better. LOVE
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreakingly Beautiful, November 2, 2012
This review is from: Lovely, Dark and Deep (Hardcover)
This book is wonderful. It's not about magic and the supernatural. It's about heartache and loss and rediscovering yourself. Love this book! Seamless writing, engaging, real.
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2.0 out of 5 stars BEGAN STRONG, FINISHED WITH A WET FIZZLE., February 14, 2015
This review is from: Lovely, Dark and Deep (Paperback)
I picked this book up by random at my local Half Price Book Store. I really wanted something YA to read and I was feeling a bit romantic, so it seemed like a perfect fit. The cover is absolutely gorgeous and the summary intrigued me, plus it was only like five bucks.

My first impressions of the book were pretty positive. Wren has a fairly strong voice, and Ms. McNamara has a way of stringing words together very poetically. I’ll go ahead and give the grammar Nazis out there a warning: this is written in first person, and Wren speaks in incomplete sentences a lot. At first it was a bit off-putting, but then I got use to it; but, to be completely honest, by the end of the story the short and jilted sentences were getting on my nerves. It would have been okay if it was only once and awhile, but Wren doesn’t seem capable of speaking in complete sentences at all, and by the end of the novel it was tiring, and at times, a tad confusing.

I’m torn between giving this book a two-and-a-half star rating and a three. I really enjoyed it when I first started reading it, but the further I went, the more I stopped liking it. By the time I was done, I wasn’t particularly fond of the story.

The summary says it all: girl meets tragedy, escapes to the woods, meets a boy, and they both heal one another. I feel like the story could have been considerably shorter, and if it had been, it would have been ten times better—probably even a five star rating. Wren is wonderfully tragic. She saw her ex-boyfriend die in front of her in a car accident she helped play a part of. When she comes to her father’s house, which is isolated in the woods of upstate New York, she meets Cal, an architect student who also escaped to the woods for refuge. Cal is running from the fact that he has MS and it most likely will kill him, just like it did his mother.

Throughout the story, Wren and Call develop a bond that helps heal them. They’re never too co-dependent, and for the most part are really freaking cute.

Ms. McNamara is talented at writing. She describes the moments between Wren and Cal, and the pain that Wren suffers, elegantly. She can draw you into an environment and leave you just as chillingly breathless as Wren. You (or at least I did) get all squishy and warm inside when Wren and Cal are being adorable together.

But she made the story last about a hundred pages too long, her secondary characters are weak and all of them are pointless/forgotten about, and she adds unnecessary drama/angst, which she then forgets about, leaving several loose ends. Plus, in the end, the ending was horrible, and if it hadn’t been one o’clock in the morning when I finished the book, and I wasn’t afraid about waking my roommate, I would have hurled the book across the room screaming.

It was that bad.

I’ll address each point, to break it down for you.

First, the length was unnecessarily long. This is because of all the points that followed. If she had trimmed back on some of these plot issues, she could have shortened the length and had a much stronger and well-written novel. Because she seemed determine to turn her gorgeous story into a horrible preteen Lifetime movie, the story suffered.

Ms. McNamara provides a slew of secondary characters, most of who are fleeting and only there to stir the pot. I didn’t come to care for the secondary characters at all. They were just background noise, objects meant to drive Wren into Cal’s arms. They were a means to an end, and nothing more. I prefer stories where I fall in love with the entire cast, not just the two protagonists.

I also want to say that Wren’s dad belongs in the Bad Dads Rad Club, because he’s the worst father. Up until like the very end of the story (and I mean the last two chapters), he’s a useless father who seems to give zero cares about his daughter. He makes horrible decisions about her, including leaving her alone to go screw his girlfriend, when Wren is evidently emotionally delicate and volatile. Plus he was a raging dick to Mary, who spent all of her apprentice with him taking care of his daughter so he could work. If he had died in a fire, I wouldn’t have been sad. I hated him 100% of the time.

And the characters Nick, Mike, and Meredith were all pointless. They had zero point. I’m not kidding. If you removed their arch from the story, it would change nothing. Absolutely nothing.

The loose ends and plot twists were mind numbing. There are four points in the story where unnecessary plot devices are used to up the angst game, and for all but one (sort of), they’re left without any kind of closure. This continues up until the last two chapters of the story. Yes, that’s right, one of those plot arcs, which helps bring the story to an end, isn’t really explained and you’re left scratching your head as to what happened.

I’ll spare the details, mostly because I don’t want to put in spoilers, but needless to say, those characters I mentioned that could have been removed? Yeah, all these loose ends are tied to them.

Now, the ending. The ending, which is the ultimate reason I want to give this a lower rating. I seriously didn’t realize it was over until I turned the next page and there was nothing there—and I don’t mean that in a good way. I was so mad. Raging.

She ended it there? And with that?

I spent the entire book wondering how it would end—dying to know how it would end. Would Cal’s MS win? Would Wren turn to Nick? Would her depression (which grew really old and childish by the end of the story, by the way) consume her? HOW?

Have any of you heard of a deus ex machina? Well, the award for biggest deus ex machina goes to Ms. McNamara. I mean, you can’t get more freaking obvious with the trick she pulled. I’ve been good about spoilers up until now, but I have to put one in here. So if you don’t want to be spoiled, go ahead and quit reading this. All you need to know that the ending sucks and it’s the reason I’ve decided to drop this rating to a two-and-a-half stars.

SPOILERS

The entire story ends with Wren having a very abrupt and last minute epiphany on how life doesn’t absolutely suck, and with Dr. Williams telling her there’s a magical, experimental cure for MS that’ll make Cal’s symptoms go away. The only problem is Cal, for some dumb reason, is refusing to take the pills—not because they’re experimental and could be dangerous, but because he doesn’t believe he’s that bad—so it’s up to Wren to convince him. The last chapter is literally Wren going into his bed room, saying like two things, and him going ‘Okay, I’ll do it because you asked’. That’s it. That is the end.

I read 341 pages to get to that; for a magical cure and Wren to be all hunky dory. No real resolution. About a dozen loose ends not explained.

I can forgive a story for a lot, but I can’t forgive it for pulling one of the most obvious deus ex machinas I’ve read in a long time. Ms. McNamara took a story that held so much potential and began so strong, and finished it with a wet fizzle.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Full of Emotion, May 5, 2013
This review is from: Lovely, Dark and Deep (Hardcover)
Story Description:

Simon & Schuster|October 16, 2012|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-4424-3435-6

A resonant debut novel about retreating from the world after losing everything - and the connections that force you rejoin it

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.

My Review:

Mamie - but Dad calls her Wren. Her parents never agreed on anything when they married, so she answers to both names. It drives her mother nuts. She thinks her Dad calls her Wren to bug her. She says her Mom called her Mamie because it means "wished-for-child". But Mamie looked up the name herself and found that it also means "bitter." Mamie died somewhere on the road when the car crashed killing her boyfriend, Patrick. Now, Wren lives with her Dad in the woods of Maine to escape everything she went through and has completely shut-down. But, these days she goes by `Wren' exclusively. Her Dad spends his days in his studio, which is perfect for, Wren she can be alone with her thoughts and emotions, as she has shut-down.

Wren decides to go for a ride on her bike on a road that is very rarely used. Suddenly a car appears careening her into the bushes until she hits a tree. The driver, Cal Owen, was freaking out thinking he could have killed her. Wren's bike wheel was twisted beyond repair and Cal drives her home to her father's house. He realizes she is John Wells, the sculptor/artist's daughter.

Wren's parents weren't living together and her mother hated it when Wren went to stay with her Dad. She worried constantly about her. Her Dad is currently away on business so Wren is alone in the house except for one of her father's art graduates, Mary. She pops in and out of the house during the day. When Wren wakes in the morning, Mary has done the dishes and usually has coffee, some fruit, and some baked goods waiting for Wren when she awakens. Wren thinks her Dad probably asked Mary to keep an eye on her while he was away. She enjoys being alone and would skip her mother's phone calls if she didn't think that it would prompt her to hop into her car and drive right up there to the woods to see if she was alright.

Wren's mother is a hospital administrator and Wren is very sure that her Dad broke her heart when he left. When he did leave, she washed her hands of the art world and their friends in it.

Wren is hiding - everything. Since her boyfriend's death in the car accident, Wren has become numb to herself and the world. She is out-of-touch with her friends, work, society, and her previous passions. Wren is so close to shutting down, permanently.

Wren is stronger than she realizes, even when she feels like hiding away from the whole world. Then she meets Cal Owens again, who has MS, and slowly her life begins to change.

There is a lot of emotion packed into Lovely, Dark and Deep. While reading along you can empathize and feel Wren's many emotions with her. This is a story that is real because this exact situation could happen to anyone and probably has over and over. It depends on our inner strength as to whether we're able to pull ourselves up and out of the muck and mire and mere depression, survivor's guilt, and that feeling of a lack of inertia. The book also shows that when someone is grieving, it not only affects the griever themselves, but many other people involved in that person's life.

For a debut novel, Lovely, Dark and Deep packs a punch and I'm looking forward to more of Amy McNamara's work.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Dark And Deep, March 28, 2013
This review is from: Lovely, Dark and Deep (Hardcover)
My Thoughts: Well, I'm not sure why I didn't think to read this debut in 2012 but I am finally getting to it in February 2013.

We are introduced to Wren who has just finished high school. She is supposed to start college but she doesn't want to go. She doesn't want to do anything. Her life is over in her mind. She doesn't deserve to do anything. She deserves what she gets.

She lost her boyfriend in a car accident. She survived and she feels hopeless. She is staying with her father out in the woods. Its peaceful, she doesn't have to deal with anyone. It's quiet, it's everything she wants. Until one day when she almost gets ran over while out riding her bike. Out jumps a boy only a few years older than her. His name is Cal and he isn't perfect either. He is dealing with his own set of problems. Of course she wants nothing to do with him either.

But she gets stuck helping him out because of her dad. She's going to over a few days a week and do things around the house for him and give him rides. This opens up a whole new perspective for Wren.

As Wren and Cal get to know each other, we get more of their back stories. We learn what really happened to Wren and more about how she is feeling and coping.

I liked this one. And I liked Cal.. alot. This story was kind of long though. I think it could have been a little shorter and still been fine.

I liked where things went and I'm happy with the way things ended. I'm glad Wren realized things and decided to move on. She needed too. She had too.

This debut was pretty nice. It's about loss and grief and how things intertwined with other people.

Overall: Liked it alot. The characters were believable. And I liked the setting. I really felt like I was out in the woods running with Wren. I felt the coldness and how the house and woods were portrayed.

Cover: Like it. It looks snowy and kind of dark. I think it fits.

What I'd Give It: 4/5 Cupcakes
_______
Taken From Princess Bookie
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5.0 out of 5 stars lovely, dark and deep, March 17, 2013
This review is from: Lovely, Dark and Deep (Hardcover)
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 understand 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 time 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 ill 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."
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great story of battling back and redemption, March 11, 2013
By 
This review is from: Lovely, Dark and Deep (Hardcover)
From the moment I read the title, I knew that I wanted to check out Lovely, Dark, and Deep. You see, I am a big fan of poet Robert Frost, who wrote the poem Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening, where McNamara's book gets it's title.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

(Any excuse to add a poem to my posts...:)

I love that poem because of the somber, maybe even dark and ominous, tone. It is a wonderful fit with McNamara's debut work, which chronicles the depression of eighteen year old Wren Wells. Lovely, Dark and Deep is a quiet book, and Wren's story is definitely a somber one. But what I love most about this book is how introspective it is. Told in first person POV, the reader really gets deep inside Wren's head as she struggles to recover mentally from a car accident that took her boyfriend's life.

Wren is floundering. She's has no interest in college. No interest in her art (she's a talented photographer). No interest in her old friends. And no interest in her life at present. After healing from the physical trauma of the accident, she persuaded her mother to let her leave New York and move in with her artist father in Maine until she can get back on her feet again. But it has been months and not much has changed. Wren wakes up and she jogs or bikes the neighboring roads around her father's property. Then she comes home and sleeps. Then she does it all over again. Wren's mom is rapidly approaching her limit, she's eager for Wren to move on and start college, and Wren's dad, while present, is distant and, like many artists, distracted. Wren is avoiding her mom's calls as much as she can and staying out of her father's sight (which is not that difficult) as well.

Everything changes when she meets fellow townie Cal Owens in a most unlikely way. Turns out Cal is the son of her dad's architect and has a few problems of his own that he is trying to work through too. Both Wren and Cal are battling their own demons and you have to wonder if the two of them meeting and trying to develop a relationship is the smartest choice. It turns out it is.

Lovely, Dark and Deep does not sport a huge cast, and I liked that about this book. The handful of characters we do meet are well written. But it is Wren and Cal who are the primary voices in this book. Wren is broken, fragile and on edge. And the way McNamara wrote her reflects this. Wren's thoughts and dialogue are choppy and brief. It was very easy to sympathize with all that Wren has lost, not just a boyfriend but in a way, her old self. And it is easy to get frustrated with her moping. For every positive step Wren makes towards recovery, she often takes two large steps back. I never gave up on her, but there were many, many times I wished she would let some of the people who were trying help her. But ultimately, I felt that when the time and circumstances were right, Wren would progress.

Cal is at a different place in his life. I don't want to spoil and tell you why Call is struggling, but it's a BIG thing. When Cal meets Wren he sees something in her. And though she pretty much rebuffs him in every way, his interest remains constant, and slowly they forge a tentative bond. I REALLY liked Cal. Not only is he kind of swoony, he is a genuinely GOOD person. And I think that McNamara's decision to write a love interest for Wren that also had problems was brilliant. Cal could easily have been written as someone who solved Wren's problems for her. And I'm not saying that they don't help each other through their tough times, they definitely do. But Wren must take the full responsibility for her problems and SAVE HERSELF. I will say that I did worry a lot about Cal's character pretty much throughout the course of this book. McNamara had me biting my nails a good deal while reading.

There are some fabulous secondary characters in this story. Maybe a little more background is necessary at this point. Wren's dad is a famous artist who hosts an artist internship, a fellowship actually, to a student from RISD (Rhode Island School of Design, one of the country's TOP art schools) each semester. When Wren comes to live with her dad, the fellowship winner he is hosting is a girl named Mary. Mary lives in town, but comes to Wren and her dad's house every day to work alongside him in his studio. Mary was a great character. She is the exact opposite of Wren in almost every way. Wren is closed up, moody, and dark. Mary is outgoing, friendly, and happy. It becomes clear that Mary has sort of been enlisted in helping watch over Wren, but instead of resenting Wren for this, Mary chalks it up as part of her fellowship experience and accepts the situation gracefully. I really liked Mary. She was quirky, good natured and a ray of sunshine in Wren's dark little world.

Another secondary character that I fell for was Wren's dad. He's not so much in the beginning. But, blame it up to my art background, I really came to love him. Is he the perfect dad? No. Does he show his daughter unlimited amounts of attention? No. But he is there for her at a time when she needs it, and in a way that she needs it. Unobtrusive and unquestioning, Wren's dad doesn't demand things from her. He's content to let her heal at her own pace. And I have to say that I absolutely love that he is an artist. For me, there will always be something so appealing about the creative, distracted, self centered, sometimes tortured, soul of an artist.

In fact, I LOVED how art and poetry played a role in this book. It tied in so well with the setting of Maine deep in the heart of winter. The descriptions of the cold, snowy forests are SO beautiful and almost exotic and romantic to a Florida girl like me. Almost. I have family in western Pennsylvania and I can assure you that being stuck outside on a bitter cold winter's day, with your toes freezing inside your shoes and your ears aching from the wind, is not at all romantic:)

But what I loved most abut Lovely, Dark and Deep, aren't the fabulous characters, the beautiful setting, or even the lovely writing. I think what struck me most was the realistic portrayal of a person battling and eventually overcoming a traumatic and debilitating event in their life. The type of event that is life altering. Am I talking about Wren or am I talking about Cal? Maybe I am speaking about BOTH. And even though there are moments in this book that feel hopeless, there are many, many more that are just the opposite. I think that there is nothing better than reading a story of redemption, and Lovely, Dark and Deep is a beautiful example. I don't know what Amy McNamara is working on next, but I'll be reading it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Poetic Tragedy, January 24, 2013
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This review is from: Lovely, Dark and Deep (Hardcover)
With a title so haunting, a cover so beautiful, and a description so vague, Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Amy McNamara was a mystery from the start. You might not know what you are getting yourself into as you start this book, but the outcome is nevertheless powerful.

Wren Wells survived the car accident, but not in one piece. Since the death of her boyfriend, Patrick, she hasn't been able to carry on with her life. The only reason she even started speaking again was to get the therapists off her back and get her mother to let her go live with father, the artist who is so wrapped up in his own creations he barely notices he has a daughter. And for Wren, being able to fold into herself and avoid all interactions is exactly what she needs. Until she meets Cal.

Cal is infectious. His kindness and caring is so sincere, Wren can't help but let him in (even if it is reluctantly at first). But Cal comes with his own demons. His recently diagnosed MS threatens his way of life and breaks the fragile soul who lost his mother to the very same disease. Apart, this pair is the most unsteady, tormented set of individuals. Together, they are lovely. They are dark. They are deep.

This is such a fluid and poetic novel. It is written beautifully, and that adds to the sincerity and gravity of the story being told. Both Cal and Wren are battling such dark demons that when they come together, you almost worry they are going to drag each other down. But they don't. They are each what the other needs: someone who listens but doesn't judge. Through their relationship, Wren is able to finally admit all the circumstances of the fateful car accident where Patrick died because focusing on Cal makes her own struggles seem less life-threatening. And Cal's illness is so painful to watch, especially after having lost his mother to the same illness. I loved the way these two were two halves who came together to make one whole individual, healing and ready to live lie again.

It was interesting how the supporting characters around them dealt with their struggles, especially Wren's parents and her friends from before the accident. It is interesting how they blame Wren and need her to push past the pain, but don't know how to help her do it. In fact, when she really sinks into a dark place, the only way they can think of helping is doing things that make it even worse for her at times. I imagined how real this was when people don't know how to help a person they love so dearly as that person slowly falls apart in front of their very eyes. This is a beautiful and haunting book, and if you want to talk to McNamara about it, she will be at Oblong next Sunday! I hope to get out there, and I am looking forward to finding the perfect student to pass this book onto. Its haunting beauty and poetic story are perfect for those deep, sensitive students!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary, January 17, 2013
This review is from: Lovely, Dark and Deep (Hardcover)
Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara showed up on my doorstep quite unexpectedly and I was very excited to see it. So excited that I ignored the review books I was supposed to be reading and started this one right away. I definitely made the right choice. I think it's going to be hard for me to express just how much I loved this book and just how beautiful it is.

Lovely, Dark and Deep is about a very damaged girl. Wren is struggling just to make it through the day. She has isolated herself deep in the icy Maine woods to escape the memories of the accident and to grieve in her own way. The pacing of the book is one of those wonderfully slow ones. Wren is so broken throughout most of the story, but we get to watch her make her new path through the world. It's like watching someone learn to live again. Even though Wren is in this unfathomable dark place I couldn't help but love her. Sometimes I had such a strong urge to hug her.

Wren's relationship with Cal felt a little sudden to me at first, but it didn't take me long to warm up to it. After I put a little more thought into it the suddenness seemed very realistic to me. They were both at rock bottom and they needed each other so much. I loved the way their problems contrasted. Wren's were mental and Cal's were physical, but the fit together like a puzzle piece. There were times when Cal's actions made me so impatient, but overall I loved their connect so much.

Melancholy is a word I would use to describe Lovely, Dark and Deep, but please don't be put off by that. The story is also hopeful and uplifting. The people that surround Wren were so incredibly warm. They were honestly some of the best secondary characters I've ever read. Then there's Amy McNamara's extraordinary writing. Her style is very unique. Evey word felt like it was thoughtfully placed and every page was infused with beauty.

Lovely, Dark and Deep is one of those stories that will stick with me for a long time to come. I can't recommend it enough. I also want to mention that I can't think of a better example of publishers getting a cover right. That cover captures all the feelings inside.
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Lovely, Dark and Deep
Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara (Hardcover - October 16, 2012)
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