Joint Review: In Too Deep
Originally, Jaimie sent me a review for this book, but I saw Carrie's review on Goodreads wasn't nearly as favorable. That was interesting to me, especially because Jaimie acknowledges the wide range of reaction to the book in her review. So I asked Carrie to add some thoughts from her point of view, so you can see both sides of the spectrum.
Jaimie: I was intrigued to read this book from first time author Michelle Brownlow because of the huge discrepancy in the reviews. People seemed to either love the book and the heroine Gracie, or they absolutely hated her and found her to be a weak character. By now, it is not a secret that I do not like weak female leads but there is a difference between weak and vulnerable and I really liked the sounds of the storyline so I dived in and gave it a shot.
Carrie: I was looking for an angsty story and New Adult usually fits the bill. I’m a little tired of the innocent girl/bad boy trope that is pervasive right now, I saw that you had just read it and rated it positively.
Jaimie: Gracie is a college student who has just finished her freshman year when she meets bad boy Noah as the two work at a local pizzeria in their hometown. Gracie is a naive, inexperienced girl who gets in over her head with the much more experienced Noah. The story follows her as she undergoes a couple of years of emotional and verbal abuse at the hands of Noah but cannot seem to break free from the relationship, which is changing who she is. Her best friend Jake is there for her through it all and he becomes her life line.
I can see why some readers may have become frustrated with Gracie and may have perceived her as weak, and at times I found her naiveté to be a bit unbelievable, but I wouldn’t use the word weak to describe her. Gracie is a classic victim of abuse even though she was not physically abused and to put her down for her inability to break free is like blaming the victim for the abuse. The couple lived the abuse cycle of happy times followed by cutting insults or degradation, apologies, promises and so on. Gracie knows that the relationship is not healthy but in time comes to believe that it is her fault and sadly this is a situation that is being played out at thousands of high schools, colleges and homes around the world at this very moment.
Carrie: I applaud the author for addressing emotional abuse. It’s an issue that is not often talked about but very widespread. Noah is really well drawn as typical example of an emotional abuser with the yo-yo patterns of behavior. Grace, on the other hand, is another story. Her hysterical behavior and inner dialog was completely over the top. Good lord, I've had firsthand experience with this and I never cried and threw up as much as this heroine. It was like when a child is crying, starts calming down but catches herself in the mirror to only start all over again just to prolong the sensation.
Jaimie: Gracie’s relationship with Jake was perfectly written. If their friendship had progressed too quickly, it would not have been realistic. The emotional toll of the abuse Noah inflicted cannot be erased over night and the unfortunate reality is that most women stay even after they know the situation is wrong. Jake has a girlfriend through much of the book but is there for Gracie any time she needs to talk, cry, or forget her problems for a little while. Although he is friends with Noah, he sees how the relationship is negatively impacting her and he resolves to be her soft spot to land.
Carrie: I felt like Jake was an equally ridiculous character. There was never a conflicting emotion or behavior - just constant back patting of Gracie. He’s supposed to be her best friend but only once says something about Noah’s behavior? Jake has a girlfriend but even she knew what was up. My best friend is a guy and I wouldn’t think of taking a nap with him in his bed if I had a boyfriend.
Jaimie: I couldn’t stop reading the story once I started. I could relate to Gracie on a number of levels and I found her journey extremely emotional. Brownlow did an excellent job of voicing the internal dialogue of victims of abuse and she did it in a beautiful, realistic way. If you like an emotional, touching story you should definitely read this book. I cannot wait for the next one and to follow more of Gracie’s journey.
Carrie: My problem with the book was never about the issue of abuse. The believability of Gracie and Jake as characters killed the story for me. Gracie never grew or matured after her relationship with Noah. She just hopped right into bed with Jake. I know how her story ends; she just keeps hoping from man to man because she never learned to stand on her own two feet.
Jamie's Rating: A
Carrie's Rating: C-
In Too Deepby Michelle Kemper BrownlowRelease Date: June 3, 2013Publisher: Sapphire Star Publishing