Review: In Too Deep by Michelle Kemper Brownlow

Posted July 31, 2013 by Ang in Contemporary Fiction, New Adult, Rating DNF, Reviews Tags: , , ,

In Too Deep
Author: Michelle Kemper Brownlow

Rating: DNF

Gracie has just finished her freshman year of college in Memphis when she takes a job at a local pizza joint in her home town of McKenzie, Tennessee. She is the epitome of innocence when she meets Noah. Noah is unabashedly handsome, intriguingly reckless and just cocky enough to be sexy. Gracie’s instincts tell her to stay far away from him and based on the stories she hears from her co-workers he leaves broken hearts in his wake. But still, she can’t explain her fascination with him.

Noah puts aside his bad boy ways when what he thought was a summer crush has him unexpectedly falling in love. But soon after Gracie transfers to UT Knoxville to be with Noah, their unexpected love becomes riddled with anger, deceit and humiliation.

Jake, Noah’s former roommate and Gracie’s best friend, can no longer be a bystander. Gracie’s world falls out from beneath her and when she breaks she turns to Jake for strength. As Jake talks her through a decision she’s not yet strong enough to make, together they uncover a truth so ugly neither of them is prepared for its fallout. Will Jake pull her to the surface or is Gracie Jordan finally In Too Deep?

What I’m Talking About:

Let me start by saying I did not finish this book, not because the writing was weak (which at times it was) or the topic poorly handled (which I also felt like applied in spots), but mostly because of my own baggage.

I am a survivor of both domestic and dating violence. I have lived through what Ms. Brownlow attempts to address in this book. I have survived and moved forward, but reading the constant manipulation, coercion and rape, yes rape because anytime a person feels like they have no voice in the sexual side of a relationship it is in fact rape, of Gracie was more than I could handle.

My memories of being a coerced and feeling like I had no choice in my relationship, feeling like I had to question my every thought and move, are still close enough in my memory that I immediately related to and was rooting for Gracie. I saw her inner strength and the support of her friends right from the start, but the inconsistencies in her character made it hard for me to continue cheering her on or even believe parts of the story. For example, she consistently refers herself as Miss Innocent, and yet she swears like a sailor on leave and drops her panties for Noah within a very short time of breaking up with Joel. None of which fit the title she so proudly touts. Add to that weak writing at times, the drowning metaphor that was completely overdone and distracting, along with flashbacks that felt like they weren’t securely anchored to the present moment, and I felt like I was stuck looking through someone’s yearbook with a bad narrative or worse yet reliving someone else’s home movies.

The potential for a great piece of fiction by handling a very difficult topic was there. Ms. Brownlow nails the cycle of the abuse, the emotion of the victim, and the frustration of her friends. However, this is the only place where she masters the art of showing not telling in her writing. When I read a novel I want to be painted a picture, or better, brought into the moment. Ms. Brownlow only seems able to do this in the past. Whenever she bring us to the current moment she tells us, dryly, what is taking place. For example rather than showing us a party by describing the music, smells and movement she writes “…music was so loud it could melt speakers, cold beer and a ton of people crammed into the living room…” This doesn’t take me into the moment of a party. If this had only happened once or twice, I could have overlooked it as a new author trying to find their  footing or being wordy, but I felt it happened too often. Hopefully that will not be the case with Ms. Brownlow’s next novel because, like I said, the potential is definitely there. Gracie & Jake are engaging characters you want to root for and see live happily ever after, and maybe that happens. I just can’t tell you because I didn’t make it past chapter 49.

All in all, I would rate this book, at least what I got through, a C. In Too Deep is at its best when dealing with a tough topic fairly realistically, and the book gives us a heroine that is stronger than she thinks she is and a hero that fits the mold beautifully. But the story has its weak points, which I’ve covered already. If you are looking for a book that deals with an often untouched topic or happen to be a teen looking for a book that deals with emotional abuse, this will fit the bill, and I hope you enjoy it.



About the Book:

Release Date: June 3, 2013
Publisher: Sapphire Star Publishing
Contemporary, New Adult
ISNB: 978-1938404603
paperback (338 pages), e-book
Book Source: Author / Publisher

Purchase Info:
In Too Deep