Synopsis from Goodreads
A 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.
Let me start by saying that the title is just absolutely perfect for this book, perfect, perfect, perfect. It reflects the powerful and poignant narrative superbly. I would also like to say how beautiful the font was and the chapter headings really added to the depth of emotion within the words.
Told in first person narrative from Mamie/Wren’s perspective. She has 2 names one from her mother and one from her father, who are divorced and very different personalities. I also felt this reflected the two different aspects of Wren’s life – the life before her accident and that after. The names themselves conjure powerful imagery to along with the different personality traits Wren exhibits. Mamie being the carefree, confident party loving girl while Wren being the little, timid bird the name suggests.
Following a car accident that kills her boyfriend Wren retreats into herself, she hides away physically and withdraws emotionally to the point she becomes an elective mute. The events surrounding the accident are not initially fully revealed but always a presence in the background. Due to the unfolding of the plot Wren is a little hard to understand in the beginning, the extent that she tortures herself with guilt is overwhelming. She does appear immature and self-absorbed at times. This is the first bad thing that has ever happened to her; the cliche of not knowing what you have until its gone is very well defined here. Wren becomes very pessimistic in her outlook, surrounding herself with guilt, loss and pain.
The imagery within the narrative is very symbolic pairing Winter with Death in the imagination. The narrative is very emotional, the use of metaphor simply stunning.
The use of poetry within the story added depth to the emotions Wren was dealing with. Her ability to relate to poetry reminded me of how my 12 year old’s ability to weave emotions into poetry. I read Larkin’s Aubade while reading the book as it is referenced a lot, I would urge you to do the same as it is an explosive addition to the sentiments in the plot.
The developing relationship with Cal provides a way for Wren to focus on something other than herself. Being able to help Cal is a cathartic experience for her. The portrayal of depression following bereavement is brutally realistic, painfully so if you have been through the same thing. Vividly showing just how self-esteem crumbles being replaced with blame, shame and guilt. It’s a viscous cycle that takes great effort to break out of. Cal provides that opening to move on for Wren.
Defining moments in life come not from all the good but from events that cause us intolerable pain. It is these moments that alter our perception. It is how we deal with these moments and learn from the altered perception that remains with us always and ultimately defines who we are. It is this aspect that translates heart-wrenchingly within Lovely, Dark and Deep making it not only beautifully written but emotionally powerful.