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.
I recently learned the hard way that I need to read at least the first two chapters, not just the first one, when "test-driving" a book for travel reading. As my coworker has pointed out, usually the first chapter is the best--it's been workshopped and revised multiple times to catch not just the reader's eye but the agent's and the editor's, too. McNamara's debut novel Lovely, Dark and Deep was yet another YA book that I had high expectations for that mostly just fell flat. Partly because it's written in the first person, present tense (or the "present pernicious," as my friend Rob calls it), it makes the character much less sympathetic and more self-absorbed than your typical teen narrator, even one who has survived tragedy and is filled with guilt.
The short, choppy sentences are probably supposed to indicate Wren's delicate and uncertain frame of mind, but they mostly just serve as examples of bad writing. I opened the book at random and here are some examples I found:
"If he picks me up, I'll have no way out. I'll be stuck at his house. My palms are clammy."
"I sip my latte. The milk's scalding. My tongue will be wrecked for a day or two."
"I step out the door a second. Music's blasting in the studio. Mary's working. The sun's high and huge in the sky. Its own triumph. Good for the sun."
"Winter sets in. The trees sag with snow. Icicles dangle from eaves and boughs."
Still, the book has a very pretty cover and if you're familiar with the small town in Maine where the book is set, you might be able to overlook the distractingly bad prose in favor of enjoying the local color. Despite the Robert Frost allusion, I'd say this book was eminently skippable.
NB: I read an ARC of this book, which was published in October of this year by Simon & Schuster.