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Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara

Wren Wells is in hiding. After everything that happened, after her boyfriend died in a car crash while she survived, Wren has shied away from the vestiges of her old life. Her mom may still call her Mamie, but she isn’t really Mamie anymore. She’s just Wren, a quiet girl hiding out in a small town in Maine, trying to piece her life back together. When she meets Cal Owen, though, there’s something about him that forces a connection between the two. He’s also in hiding and, like Wren, has a few secrets of his own. But even as Wren begins to hope, that she might be able to have a normal relationship with someone despite her past, she continues to doubt herself—she’s afraid that if she stays with Cal, she’ll just end up hurting him, like she’s hurt everyone else. But, as she comes to realize, she can’t protect herself or Cal from everything and that to live again, she’ll have to open up her heart, to the hurt, but also to the hope.

I really wanted to read this novel before I even know what it was about, since the title is a line from Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” a poem I loved from the first time I read it years ago. But what really convinced me to pick this book up was hearing the author read from the first chapter—just that small snippet managed to capture the musical, lyrical, deeply emotional quality of the story, and I instantly knew that Wren’s story was one that I needed to know and understand. Though it took me a little while to truly get into the story, McNamara’s beautiful writing slowly drew me in until I was inextricably invested in Wren’s journey, in the tragedy from which she was running,  her desperation for solitude, her struggles with grief and depression, and her simple gratitude for the kindest human connections. McNamara really captures the intense emotions of both Wren and Cal so well that it would be impossible not to feel for these two as people, not characters. The very internal nature of this story makes it certainly a quieter sort of tale, but it is one with a big emotional impact—and one that will stay with me for a long time.

Lovely, Dark and Deep is a beautiful story for fans of character-driven contemporary stories like Saving June and Speechless, both by Hannah Harrington, and Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell.

Rating: 4.75

Review copy from author Amy McNamara

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