Deep Down True by Juliette Fay is not a book to make you remember your school years fondly. Instead, the story will remind you of all the things you wish you could forget, for example, the time you did the splits at lunch time while wearing your favourite purple velvet pants when they split, and you thought you would die of embarrassment*. Isn’t it amazing (and horrible) how things which happened decades ago still have the power to make me blush.**
I actually found reading Deep Down True to be almost cathartic. Obviously I wasn’t the only one who spent a lot of school lunch hours hiding out in the library, since Juliette Fay writes as if she suffered too. I’m so relieved to know I wasn’t the only one.
The heroine of Deep Down True is Dana, a divorced mother of two whose husband recently left her for a younger woman. Dana’s children, Morgan and Grady, are having issues adjusting to the changes in their lives. Unfortunately but not unexpectedly, school offers the children plenty of opportunities to be both embarrassed and unhappy.
Dana’s niece, Alder, who is at times a breath of fresh air and at others a troubled teenager, lands on Dana’s doorstep needing a sanctuary. Alder’s mother continually gives Dana a hard time. Clearly their sibling issues haven’t resolved.
Things get complicated for Dana when her son Grady’s football coach takes a romantic interest in her. Dana realises they are not well matched but she isn’t good at saying no, so their relationship moves quickly into the ‘going out’ stage. Dana also needs to find a job, as her ex-husband is finding it a struggle to support two households. Luckily Dana finds a haven of her own working as a dental receptionist. (Yes, I know ‘haven’ isn’t the first thing you think of for a dental surgery, but it is probably different for the people who are paid to be there).
There are plenty of side stories happening in Deep Down True as well as the main story, including binge eating, purging, cancer, depression, heartbreak, infidelity, being popular (or unpopular) with your peers, and more. While I found Deep Down True to be an enjoyable read, there were so many issues going on that they became almost ridiculous. Also, the end of the book finished with high hopes of everything being okay, but the reality is that the issues the characters faced are huge and in real life, would not be resolved so easily.
However, I can recommend Deep Down True to readers who enjoy chick lit featuring characters who overcome multiple painful issues.
I also have to say how much I liked the cover of this novel. The photo is by Erik Rank and is truly beautiful. The beautiful blues and purples of the flowers and vase on the cover are glorious when you are holding this book in your hands.
*Sadly, this really did happen. It was on the primary school oval circa 1978, I was really wearing purple velvet pants, and showing off. I had to wear my jumper wrapped around my waist for the rest of the day.
**Over thirty years ago and this memory is still embarrassing… No, not being seen wearing purple velvet pants, the fact that they split.