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The Deepest Blue Hardcover – October 15, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up—After his dad, a fishing charter boat captain, is killed in an automobile accident, 16-year-old Michael wants to live with his father's girlfriend, who has been like a real mother to him for the last 10 years. However, his biological mom, who rejected him when he was five, appears and demands that he come live with her clear across the country. A battle for custody ensues, which the teen can win or lose depending on how well he can control his emotions in court under the grueling questioning of his mother's attorney. The emotional turmoil of the days between the accident and the funeral are told with deliberate slowness in Mike's honest first-person narrative. Juxtaposed with the breathtaking speed of the legal procedures that follow, the boy's overwhelming grief and panic while trying to deal with the court system are tangible. The tension builds and doesn't relent until the judge pronounces her decision. Justesen's adept descriptions are tedious at times, but the characters are well drawn and realistic, especially the protagonist's friends, who are as supportive as they know how to be. This gripping, heart-wrenching story will show readers what it's like to suffer a great loss and survive.—Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC

From Booklist

The first 50 pages of this low-key novel are so relentlessly mild that readers might well be caught off guard by the unsignaled disaster. Mike, 15, is awakened by his soon-to-be-stepmother, Maggie, to learn that his beloved father has been killed in a car crash. He’s thrown into a tailspin of anger and depression exacerbated by a surprise threat: his deadbeat biological mother, missing since he was 5, wants custody. Mike and Maggie move fast toward adoption, but first the case must be heard in court. Justesen’s squeaky-clean drama is unflaggingly earnest—which, depending on the scene, is its biggest deficit or biggest strength. It is most valuable as a post-tragedy procedural, as Justesen takes readers on a painful but potentially reassuring journey through the minutia that follows a sudden death: the funeral arrangements, legal ramifications, and much more. The author’s restraint is admirable, as is the unresolved ending, which leaves several complicated relationships up in the air. A heartfelt offering ideal for reluctant readers. Grades 7-10. --Daniel Kraus

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 6 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 740L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 275 pages
  • Publisher: Tanglewood Press (October 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933718900
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933718903
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,406,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

My name is Kim, and I live in Sandy, Utah. I grew up in Utah and have lived here my whole life, but I've been lucky enough to travel across the US, to Canada, Mexico, Europe, and the Caribbean. I have three mostly grown kids, one adorable grandson, and an ever-changing menagerie of pets. My husband and I like camping, golfing, and snow shoeing together. I also love crocheting, knitting, reading, and eating chocolate.

I graduated from Cottonwood High School, got my Bachelors degree from Westminster College, and my Masters degree in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. In addition to writing, I teach workshops and classes for those who want to learn to write or want to expand their skills and knowledge.

My first novel, KISS KISS BARK, was originally titled MY BROTHER THE DOG. It was based on a true story about my mom and my uncle. My uncle's name really was Donald, just like Mattie's little brother in the book. You can visit my web site at, or at to learn more about me and my books.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A person’s teenage years are difficult enough under the best of circumstances, but when an adolescent has to deal with the death of a parent, the struggles are intensified exponentially.

Such is the case for Michael Wilson, a 15-year-old North Carolinian whose seemingly idyllic life takes a sudden, tragic turn when his father is killed in a car accident. Author Kim Williams Justesen’s novel The Deepest Blue masterfully delves into the mind of the confused, angry teen with emotional prose that is accessible to both teen and adult readers.

The story opens with Wilson enjoying his Atlantic Coast lifestyle. His works with his father on their charter boat, the Mighty Mike, during the summer months, hangs out with his friends during his off-hours, and enjoys a close relationship with his father’s long-time girlfriend, Maggie. Wilson’s biological mother is no longer in his life, but the teen has come to terms with that.

Wilson’s father finally decides to pop the question to Maggie, but Fate intervenes and the teen suddenly finds himself dealing with tremendous grief and an uncertain future. He asks Maggie to adopt him and she gladly agrees to do so. But a dark cloud appears when Wilson’s biological mother shows up with plans to take him back to Seattle with her. Not wanting to leave his home, Wilson engages in a legal battle to stop the woman he hardly knows from uprooting him.

This beautifully-written story tackles the legal and emotional battles that Wilson faces, while providing surprising plot twists that keep the pages turning. I recommend this novel for both teen and adult readers, for there is much to be enjoyed in this heart-breaking and poignantly-fulfilling story.

Steven Donahue was a copywriter for TV Guide magazine for 14 years.
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By Stephanie on March 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very well written and heartfelt! The story is gripping, sad and sweet all at the same time. Can’t wait to read more by Ms. Justesen!
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By Erin Stauffer on November 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Awesome story, great characters and a feel good book. It is hard to put it down once you start---you will lve it!
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