Monday, June 17, 2013

{Tour Stop} Book Review: In Too Deep by Michelle Kemper Brownlow


Title: In Too Deep
Series: None
Author: Michelle Kemper Brownlow
Pages: 338
Pub Date: May 21, 2013
Publisher: Sapphire Star Publishing
Book Source: From the author
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars


Gracie is drowning.

Gracie used to be a “good girl”—innocent and a bit naïve.

Then she met Noah. He's sexy, he's charming, he's got a reputation for being a womanizer and a player.

But Gracie sees a different side of him, and the two end up in a relationship. Noah changes his ways. The two are blissfully happy.

'Til Noah joins a fraternity. Things slowly decline in their relationship at this point, and Gracie doesn't know how to handle it. She is determined that their relationship can make it, but when you're the only one trying to make it work...

the odds are impossible.

- - -

First of all, I really want to highlight the fact that this author painted a perfect picture of mental/emotional abuse.

Abuse does not come in just one form. It isn't always about fists and bruises, but a manipulation of the mind. It's subtle, but can be all-consuming. Noah is the epitome of mental and emotional abuse. He uses verbal insults and heartless treatment to her Gracie and make her feel worthless, then turns around and manipulates her into forgiving him or seeing what he did as a way of “pushing her away” because his love for her is something that scares him. And then, there you go. Hook, line, and sinker. He knows just how to keep Gracie dangling on a string to use whenever he pleases.

There is another side to his abuse. Pressure. Gracie feels as if she has to change herself for him; do things she doesn't want to just to please him. Sex. Drugs. Changing her entire demeanor. Gracie becomes a person she doesn't even recognize anymore.

My one problem lies with Gracie and her constant issue of “making love” versus “fucking”. She even outright asks Noah “Why don't you make love to me anymore?” -- Oh god, why? Why, Gracie, why?

To be honest with you, I do not know even one girl who thinks like this. I am sorry, but not every girl in the world wants to “make love” (ugh, I hate even using the words, lol). I know they are out there, but I cannot personally grasp this. I guess it could be attributed to the fact that Gracie is on the innocent side, naïve and sheltered. But it killed me every time she would go there, and she does it a lot. I just searched the ebook on my Kindle for the words “make love” and about 20 results came up. That's too many. No no no no no no. Cheese fest. Corny to the max. I just can't.

The light at the end of Gracie's tunnel is Jake. Jake is one of her very best friends at college. He's the person she goes to each time Noah drags her deeper and deeper into despair. He's dependable, playful, and charming. He is the one to help Gracie realize her worth, and eventually becomes more than just a friend to her. This is where the love triangle/square comes in. This is another thing I think the author did very well—portraying such a close friendship between members of the opposite sex without it being too obvious that things were going to head in a romantic direction.

This book is extremely realistic. It's unfortunate, but I think we all know someone in a relationship like this. You have a friend who is constantly breaking up and making up with her boyfriend. And I do mean constantly. She makes excuses for him. She rationalizes everything he does. She talks herself into forgiving him over and over again. It's the girl you want to slap some sense into. But what a lot of people don't realize, because sometimes it takes experiencing it to know, is that it's hard. SO SO HARD to get out. For abusive relationships both mental and physical, it's tough to get away. Like I said before, it's a manipulation. Gracie likes to keep blaming it on the fact that Noah is in a fraternity. She swears that is the reason their relationship changed for the worse. Denial, denial, denial. It's just a step in the cycle.

All throughout the novel, the author helps us to experience Gracie's pain under the metaphor of drowning.
“The strong force of the wave pulled me under. I gasped for air just before my face disappeared below the surface.”

“I used my arms like underwater oars and sliced through the depths trying to reach what I needed most, but I was in too deep.”

“My body landed softly, somewhere. I was finally in so deep that I reached the bottom. There's no air on the bottom. People suffer here.”
I agree that this is the perfect metaphor for what Gracie was going through. And the writing was quite beautiful, even if the subject was so tragic.

Overall, this book was great. I can always appreciate an author and a story that hits on a subject close to home. It's also a subject that is always overlooked. It's abuse. Plain and simple. It's something that every person experiences in their lifetime, whether it be from a significant other, family member, friend, teacher, etc. It's never okay to intentionally make someone feel badly about themselves, period. This book highlights some of the things a person in a mentally abusive and manipulative relationship can go through, and it's done realistically. Gracie is a character you might want to slap a few times, but she is overall likeable and relatable. The romance is intense and sometimes infuriating (in a good way). This book is packed with raw emotion and stark examples of both pain and hope.

I definitely recommend this book to all young women. It touches on tough topics but it's also a great, entertaining story of love and self-discovery.