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.
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.