Friday, July 19, 2013

Review: In Too Deep by Michelle Kemper Brownlow

 In Too Deep by Michelle Kemper Brownlow
Release Date: June 3rd 2013 by Sapphire Star Publishing
Genre: New Adult Contemporary/Realistic fiction
Source: Publisher
Format: E-book

Goodreads Summary:
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?

My Review:
If you are looking for a feel-good novel. Something light and airy and super romantic. Guess what? This is not it. As the title and cover of this book suggest, this story is about a girl who falls in too deep into the wrong relationship and loses herself. This book is about emotional abuse at its core and the toll it can take on a persons life. A subject - like depression - that is not tackled on enough, in my opinion. No worries, though, for those who love romance, there is a bit of that in the novel. It's not all suffering.

Most people are of the belief that what makes a book good or readable is that the main characters be likeable and relatable. But, to me, that is the wrong way to read. Like in life, not all characters are relatable or likeable. There is a lot of different people out there, with unique personalities and backgrounds. It's because people are so different from one another that makes life complex and the same goes for book characters. We learn the most, when we read, from characters who are different from us. We get to see a new view on things. That is what happens in this novel. Gracie and Noah are not likeable at all. I think Gracie is supposed to be, but I'll tackle more of my views on her, in the latter half of this review.

 What I took from this novel, is that Gracie and Noah (the main characters in this book) are the quintessential example of what not to be or how to act in a relationship. They are the poster children for toxicity and emotional abuse in a relationship. Why might you add? Well, because Noah is the most manipulative, insensitive and rotten male character you can find. He is a bad boy. But, like, a real one. He is just a horrible human being and boyfriend to Gracie, who in this novel is the victim of his emotional abuse. That boy messes with that girls mind like no one's business and it literally takes to the very end of this book for Gracie to dump him once and for all.

Which leads me to world building and the subject of emotional abuse. When it comes to both things, I think the author succeeds tremendously in portraying emotional abuse in a young couple who are in college. The college environment and the actions of the characters in this novel felt authentic to the way people act in college, when they are young. We get a bit of life in a fraternity house, and get to learn through Noah, all of the many ways in which a person can manipulate another until they lose all sense of self. Which Gracie did, thanks to Noah. He gets her to essentially become his puppet. Through what you might add? By making her think that she was too much of a good girl, uptight, controlling and demanding. And naturally in her belief, that she can change him and that he is different with her, she always falls into all of his traps and demands.

Now, as much as I hated Noah, because he was awful and well that was his role, to be awful as the master manipulator of Gracie's emotions. I was equally annoyed with Gracie. I know that if they were real, I would've wanted to smack them both. Kudos to the author, because I think that books should do that, they should provoke strong emotions in the reader and boy did I feel a lot of frustration with these two. Noah was just sick. The things he did to manipulate Gracie, especially when it came to sex. That guy was just sad. He had a girlfriend who loved him, and it didn't matter, he just treated her like dirt.

Gracie. Oh, Gracie. Maybe the reader was meant to sympathize with her. I did on some levels. No doubt, her boyfriend treated her horribly. BUT, I wasn't completely on her side. First off, everyone in the book, to Gracie's mom, to her friends, and especially her best guy friend Jake, and even herself, in her head, kept talking on and on about how she was so special and beautiful and had this light about her soul that was going dim because of this abusive relationship and I'm sorry, I just never saw it. Scratch that, I never felt it. Just because other characters tell me how a character is doesn't mean I'm gonna buy it. The author has to show me, through the characters actions who they are. Not tell me. And that's what I got for Gracie. All this high praise but I never once felt like Gracie was this incredibly special person that everyone claimed she was. Not even in her flashbacks. She did have good feelings and there were several moments where she was gracious and respectful with others. But I honestly, never got a true feel for who she was.

Another thing, all the good girl talk that went in Gracie's mind about how she was not a good girl anymore or how some action she did took her good girl status away, was a bit too much for me. At the beginning, I was like, "yea, I get you girl. You fell for a bad boy and he messed you up." But after a while, that line just didn't make me sympathize with her anymore. Noah did manipulate Gracie through that, through her being a good girl, but there came a point when that was all she would reference to. The "good girl" label. Or she would often talk about Noah being a "bad boy" and that's all she would do. It's like she lived her life within the confines of those two labels. It was a bit too much and fell a little into cliché land for me. Have to be honest.

Oh, and what irritated me the most about Gracie is here she would be, crying her heart out to her best guy friend Jake, and supposedly devastated over another one of her fights or epic break ups with Noah that shattered her soul because he treated her like dirt, but then she would be, like, checking Jake out? Excuse me. I don't care how hot he is, if your boyfriend Noah is your everything and defines you, why are you checking out this guy who has a girlfriend? How is your mind going there in the first place, Gracie? She did it way too much for comfort. I gave her some passes on the excuse that she was young, but it was a bit out of place for me. Thank God, she did respect Jake and his relationship, but I was a bit afraid there for a bit.

Overall, my fave part of this novel was Gracie's best guy friend, Jake. He was gorgeous and a beautiful soul. He treated Gracie with so much gentleness and understanding. He really was just a beautiful character with all the right words to say. Thanks to him, she gets to learn about how to be treated by a guy, in the right way. And their moments were cute because Jake was just so amazing. I can't even. I definitely think that this book would be great for any fan of New Adult fiction, who likes realistic settings. And if you want to learn more about emotional abuse, this book is on target. You definitely can learn all the warning signs of what it is, and definitely learn from Gracie's mistakes on how to avoid it. When she FINALLY dumped Noah once and for all. I almost did a happy dance. Noah was just foul, y'all. Really foul.

My rating: 3/5


  1. You make such great points about characters being likeable/relatable. I do agree with a lot of that, but I still get the feeling I'd struggle with this book. It's not my usual sort of read, though I do really like the sound of Jake's character.

    Great review, Jennifer! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks so much, Sam. Appreciate that.

      And thanks for reading and stopping by! :)

  2. Wow the cover definitely doesn't convey everything you've mentioned in your review, but it sounds like the author goes into a lot of depth with the characters. Thanks for putting this book on my radar! :)

    1. You're welcome, Jasprit. And the author definitely does go in depth with the characters in this one. Yes. It's intense.

      Thanks for reading and stopping by! :)

  3. " Like in life, not all characters are relatable or likable" <<< love this! And so true!

    Great, great review! Definitely sounds like a very emotional, intense read! Now, just reading your review mine my heart hurt, so, I might stay away from this one. I do love me some emotional books, and if I'm ever in the mood for one, I might pick this one up! I'll have to be in the mood for it though :D

    1. I'm so glad to hear that. Thank you, girl.

      I hear you, Magen. What I choose to read also depends on my mood and sometimes, it's not easy to get into an emotional and super intense book if you aren't ready.

      Thanks again for your words & for reading! =)


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