My rating: 2 out of 5 stars
I’ve been putting off this review for far longer than I meant to, and there are a couple of reasons why. Before I picked up “Lovely, Dark and Deep” from the library, I’d seen an author whose work I love give this novel a glowing recommendation. A quick glance at the summary showed me that it might very well be something that I’d be interested. When I found it at the library a few days later, I dove right in.
Don’t get me wrong–there are a lot of things to like about this novel. The cast of characters is rich and diverse, and I found myself fascinated by the majority of them. The setting was described beautifully and had me dying to return to Maine–a place I’ve only been during the summer.
For the first 100 pages or so, I drew a great deal of parallels between “Lovely, Dark and Deep” and “Speak.” Both had female protagonists who were nearly mute, suffering through the aftermath of traumatic events in locales that were known, but initially foreign to them. That being said, I stopped any and all comparisons right around the 200 page mark.
Without spoiling anything for future readers, this novel contained a trope that I have seen FAR too much of in YA novels, and that I wish would die a tragic, horrible death. Allow me to elaborate. The MC–usually a girl, but not always–is accused of something by another character–usually a boy, but not always. The accusation can be based on what the MC feels to be true, or not at all. That’s not what drives me crazy. What drives me crazy is when the MC says nothing to their own defense, and simply lets their accuser go on thinking something about them that is only slightly true, or not at all true.
SERIOUSLY? The second I finished the scene I’m indirectly referring to, I slammed the book closed and shoved it across the table. Don’t get me wrong; I did finish the novel, but I knew if I read any more that day I would’ve driven myself nuts.
I HATE seeing this in characters. Here’s why. It seems to be especially common in teenaged girls, at least in fiction. I have known a crap-load of teenaged girls. I have BEEN a teenaged girl, probably a lot more recently than the majority of authors who put this in their books. I have known a lot of quiet girls with avoidance tendencies, and I have known a lot of suffering girls with avoidance tendencies. Of the people I’ve known well, not a one of them would let something like that go.
I’m not saying that everyone would turn a false accusation into an argument, but I can’t think of a single female friend I’ve had who would let anyone accuse them of something they didn’t do and JUST NOT RESPOND. Quite frankly, I find this type of thing offensive. I’ve been one of those girls quietly suffering through something they don’t like or understand. It DID NOT remove my ability to stand up for myself in a non-threatening setting to non-threatening people.
I’m sure there are people out there who will think I’m overreacting. That’s their opinion. But I’m not overreacting when I say that this is one of a precious few tropes that can absolutely ruin an otherwise decent story for me.
Will I give a future novel of McNamara’s a chance? Absolutely. Will I hope that the characterization is better handled? Ditto.