I was lucky enough to score an early copy of Deep Down True at the bookstore in the Providence airport last Friday, and I devoured the book over the course of a long weekend. Good news: I loved it. Bad news: “just one more chapter” took a large chunk out of my beauty sleep. Thanks for the eye socket shadows, Juliette Fay.
What struck me first was the fantastic use of imagery. As a writer I struggle to find images that are neither cliché nor distraction; all through this book, fresh images made me smack my lips in the satisfaction of tasting something new that was just exactly right. On page 1, we hear of “the thick humidity of death.” On page 3, we learn that for middle school girls, “Their eyes were their weapons now.” This steady stream of analogy ties the book together, giving it a literary power that never slows down the page-turning.
The story is told by Dana, a suburban mom whose husband has recently left her for a younger woman. Dealing with her own anger and disappointment is hard enough without also trying to do her best for her two kids, a seven year old boy and a twelve year old girl. Dana is a good mother, but I was grateful she wasn’t too good or too perfect. She makes her mistakes too, which is what keeps this story from becoming too sweet.
Best of all, the ending was the perfect combination of nice and not quite finished. We are left with the feeling that while the characters have grown and improved, they will keep leading somewhat imperfect lives. And with just the right unexpected twist, Juliette also manages to sum up once again the theme of adulthood as glorified middle school. Well done!
It usually bothers me to read the acknowledgements before I have read the book, but in this case learning about where the inspiration for the book came from (and where some of the best teenage lines originated) deepened my appreciation of the characters.
If I’d known such great writing could originate in the town where I grew up, I might not have bolted right after high school.
Causes Carol CRONIN Supports
Jamestown Historical Society, Dutch Island Lighthouse Society, Our Sisters School, Piers Park Sailing Center