Thursday, January 27, 2011

Review: Deep Down True

Summary: From the author of Shelter Me--a funny and poignant novel about having your heart in the right place.

Newly divorced Dana Stellgarten has always been unfailingly nice- even to telemarketers-but now her temper is wearing thin. Money is tight, her kids are reeling from their dad's departure, and her Goth teenage niece has just landed on her doorstep. As she enters the slipstream of post-divorce romance and is befriended by the town queen bee, Dana finds that the tension between being true to yourself and being liked doesn't end in middle school... and that sometimes it takes a real friend to help you embrace adulthood in all its flawed complexity. -- Penguin

I was so excited to learn that Juliette Fay had a new book coming out called DEEP DOWN TRUE. I reviewed her first novel SHELTER ME a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I found that many of the things that I remembered enjoying about SHELTER ME were also the case in DEEP DOWN TRUE -- great character development, an interesting story, and wonderful writing! DEEP DOWN TRUE is sure to be a hit with readers who appreciate good women's fiction.

DEEP DOWN TRUE tells the story of Dana, a recently divorced mother of two who is facing some major changes in her life. Besides being single again, she is also navigating the world of dating, re-entering the work force, and handling co-parenting with her ex-husband (and his new young girlfriend.) And if that's not enough, she has a middle grade daughter who seems to have an eating disorder and a troubled teenage niece who just shows up on her doorstep and asks to live with her. I had to ask myself, how much can one woman handle?

Evidently quite a bit! Dana was just a fantastic character, and that's one of the reasons that I liked this book so much. Dana was incredibly nice (sometimes too nice) and despite all of her troubles, she still found the time to take food to a family whose father was dying of cancer. I found that she rarely put herself first, and I had to question how she could ever be happy when she wasn't tending to her own needs. Dana certainly wasn't perfect, but she was extremely real to me -- especially when it came to her feelings as a mother. I thought Ms. Fay did an amazing job of bringing her life, and I loved seeing how much her character grew (and changed for the better) as a result of her choices.

Once again, I was extremely impressed with Ms. Fay's writing style. Somehow, her dialogue and prose seem almost effortless -- it's just incredibly authentic to me. I also think she has an extreme talent of creating characters that get under your skin -- in a good way. Not only did I feel an affinity with Dana, but I absolutely loved her niece Alder (who was wise beyond her years) and her boss Tony (who was one of the most sensitive and patient men I've ever come across!) In addition, I thought Ms. Fay did a wonderful job with Dana's tween daughter Morgan. Not only did she treat her eating disorder in, what I thought, was a very honest way, but she also captured the essence of mean girls and middle school -- and I do know a thing or two about that.

It's difficult for me to articulate another reason why I enjoyed this book so much, but I'll give it a try. I thought some of the themes that occurred throughout the novel were so well done. As was the case with SHELTER ME where the theme of "shelter" kept appearing, I appreciated how the theme of "food" ran throughout the story. For instance, Dana used food as a way to comfort herself and others; and yet food was also a huge issue for her tween daughter. In addition, I loved how the theme of staying true to yourself while also trying to maintain friendships was a big part of Dana and her daughter Morgan's life -- it seems like some things like mean girls never change regardless of how old we are!

DEEP DOWN TRUE is ideal for book clubs, especially groups made up of moms. There is a reading guide in the back of the paperback book which I thought was very well-done. There is a detailed summary (is that an oxymoron?) in the back of the book along with an interview with Ms. Fay and ten thought-provoking discussion questions. Some of the topics you might want to further explore include divorce, dating, new beginnings, food, motherhood, sister relationships, eating disorders, anger, love, forgiveness, and happiness.

I found DEEP DOWN TRUE to be a delightful read and I highly recommend it to fans of women's literature.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this novel.


Rebecca Rasmussen said...

SO excited for this book!!!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I love the line about the detailed summary! LOL

Swapna said...

Oh, I really enjoyed Shelter Me so I'm glad to see this one was good as well. I'll have to read it soon!

Anonymous said...

This has just made my TBR list. Don't you just love books are now including reading guides and author interviews? It adds so much to the reading experience.

Melanie said...

Thanks for sharing, I"m excited to hear she has a new book. I really enjoyed Shelter Me becuase it had lots of layers. Looking forward to more goodness with her new one.

Beth F said...

I can't wait to get to this one -- soon, soon . . .

bermudaonion said...

This sounds really good! It's amazing how much one person (especially women) can persevere, isn't it? The things Dana went through sound pretty true to life to me.