Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara, published by Simon and Schuster on 8th November 2012
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. Somehwere 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.
'Lovely, Dark and Deep' is a poignant and deeply moving book. It is one to read slowly and to savour, letting the emotional intensity of the story wash over you. Every word on the page is carefully crafted and designed to tug at the heartstrings of the reader. This is a novel but at times it has the beauty, grace and lyricism of a poem. I was moved to tears on a number of occasions throughout the book and there were a couple of times when I almost felt like my heart was being wrenched out of my chest.
Amy McNamara's story deals with the aftermath of a terrible accident which has left the main character, Wren, grieving and isolated from the world around her. Cut off from her friends and disconnected from her parents, she's struggling to make sense of her life. Bereavement is a huge issue in the book and is touched upon with great sensitivity and understanding. In the acknowledgements the author mentions that she wrote the the book after the death of someone she loved. This infuses the story with tangible feelings of a grief too terrible to bear. Wren wants to shut down her emotions and close herself off from life because she is no longer the person she was before one day changed everything for her. Wren seeks comfort through the poetry of Philip Larkin and identifies particularly with a poem called 'Aubade'. Not being particularly familiar with Larkin's work, I felt inspired to go out and buy a collection of his poetry and this added another layer of richness to the story.
The ending of the book impressed me too, along with the author's courage at not giving into the need to wrap everything up into a neat parcel by the final page. I thought that was a good choice to make because it is reflective of life which continuously throws obstacles at people and consists of countless ups and downs.
The writing is gorgeous, the story is moving and the characters are often troubled, imperfect and tormented but very real. This is one of the most impressive debuts of 2012 and a book to savour. I loved it and would heartily recommend it to anyone.