{First, thanks so very much to everyone who commented on yesterday’s post, and to those who congratulated me via Twitter and email. It has been so much fun to celebrate my good news with all of you. Your support means the world to me, and I am grateful to have made such amazing writing/blogging/reading/tweeting  friends in the YA community. You guys are the BEST! Hugs and Jelly Bellies for everyone!}

Now, I’m so excited to share  today’s Bookanista Recommendation with you. I finished reading Amy McNamara‘s Lovely, Dark and Deep the other day and I’m still thinking about it…

From GoodreadsA resonant debut novel about retreating from the world after losing everything—and the connections that force you to 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.

Lovely, Dark, and Deep is all of those things: Lovely prose that tells the story of a girl in a very dark place, and the deep relationships she forms as she struggles to find light again. This novel is mature and literary and full of romance that rings so true. It’s a hard read thanks to its difficult themes of loss, guilt, and obligation, but a hopeful read too. I couldn’t put it down.

Because of the car crash that killed her boyfriend and wrecked her life, Wren is taking a “gap year” after graduation, putting art school on hold. As the novel opens, she meets Cal (who I adore), a college student on hiatus thanks to some serious medical issues. As her relationship with Cal sparks  and grows, Wren begins to find a happier place, a sense of peace  she can’t find with anyone else.

But Wren’s recovery is far from easy. Despite the small surges of happiness Cal brings, she goes through periods of selective silence, runs obsessively during the frigid Northeast winter, and makes some pretty damaging life choices. It might have been easy to become frustrated with Wren — sometimes I did want her get it together already — but she’s so self-aware and honest about her grief, I mostly just longed to make her a big bowl of hot soup and give her a tight hug. Amy McNamara has a beautiful but precise way of describing pain and sorrow. Her carefully chosen words let the reader feel the emotion behind them, and that, more than anything, helped me empathize with Wren.

“So this is life. Love. We spend all this time reaching for each other and mostly we end up hurting each other until it’s over.” 
― Amy McNamaraLovely, Dark and Deep

Lovely, Dark and Deep has a cast of supporting characters who are mesmerizing in their own right. I particularly enjoyed John, Wren’s kind artist father, and Mary, a colorful RISD student in town for a fellowship. Lucy, the local librarian, made me feel all happy and warm, and even cocky Nick, another fellowship student, brought a smile to my face a few times. So… if you like books that are character-driven and complex and gorgeously written, books that ask deep questions, yet don’t give away all the answers, I highly recommend Lovely, Dark and Deep.

Check out what my Bookanista friends are up to today…

Elana Johnson raves about THE IMMORTALITY EXPERIMENT

Jessica Love delights in CHOPSTICKS

Tell me: Do you prefer to read books that are dark and deep, or light and fun?


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