Deeper We Fall
by Chelsea M. Cameron
Read: April 25 - 26, 2013
Published: January 24, 2013 by DRC Publishing
Source: Kindle purchase
Category: Contemporary New Adult (college)
Two years after her best friend was involved in a car accident that caused a traumatic brain injury, Lottie Anders is ready to start her freshman year of college. Ready to move on. Ready to start forgetting the night that ripped her life apart.
Her plans come to a screeching halt when not one, but both brothers responsible for the accident end up back in her life again.
Zack is cruel, selfish and constantly rubbing what happened to her friend in Lottie's face.
Zan is different. He listens to her awkward ramblings. He loves "To Kill a Mockingbird" as much as she does, and his dark eyes are irresistible. His words are few and far between, but when he does speak, she can't help but listen. The trouble is, Zan was the driver in the accident, and now Lottie's discovered he lied to her about what happened that night. Now she must decide if trusting him again will lead to real forgiveness, or deeper heartache. (From Goodreads)
Two years ago Charlotte (Lottie) Anders and her best friend Lexie went to a party. Neither of them came home the same. Lexie was involved in an accident that left her with a traumatic brain injury, and Lottie has been wracked with guilt and anger ever since. Now a freshman in college, Lottie is working hard to move on with her life. But her plans are derailed when Zach and Zan Parker, the brothers responsible for Lexie's accident, show up at Lottie's school. It's immediately clear that Zach is still as selfish and destructive as ever. But though Lottie is reluctant to admit it, she discovers that Zan is different. Much to her dismay, she finds herself drawn to him. But in choosing Zan is she forsaking Lexie?
1) Thankfully not the standard Trauma Victim Plot: Although I do love this New Adult - between high school and adult life/ self-discovery - genre, the story lines have started to seem similar to me. Whenever I see a book featuring the girl-dealing-with-a-past-trauma plot I've started to feel like I'm reading a scripted story. Although I've had my eye on Deeper We Fall, and think the cover is lovely, I have been wary about picking it up for that reason. But from the beginning these characters felt like they could be real people, and they did not follow the script. That made the story feel fresh, and helped me connect with it immediately.
2) The Two Voices: (This one's long, sorry!) Deeper We Fall is narrated by Lottie and Zan, and I was able to connect with both of them in this book. In many ways Lottie is still struggling to come to terms with the accident that hurt her friend two years ago, an event which has given her a unique perspective on life. She is not interested the college drinking and partying scene, but is still open and able to make friends. Lottie even talks to her friends about what happened two years ago. I know this sounds like a small thing, but in so many of these New Adult books, the main character doesn't open up about anything, and it causes a lot of tension in the story. Lottie acknowledges the accident as part of her past and she isn't awkward or weird about it. In fact, Lottie tends to talk too much - or as she says 'vomit of the mouth' and there are some funny moments in this book because of that, all of which just made her more endearing.
Zan has had a harder time personally since the accident. He was sent to a juvenile facility because of his involvement, which was rough on him. He has also developed several bad coping habits - drinking, drugs, violence. But he has a great counselor (she is one of my favorite characters, though we only ever meet her over the phone) and is working on trying to deal with his anger in safer, healthier ways. Zan comes across as dangerous because he is mysterious and has a questionable past, but in many ways he is just a lost and vulnerable boy. He loves to read and run and listen to albums on his grandfather's record player, but he's also insecure and bit awkward socially, because of what he has gone through.
In many ways Lottie and Zan are the same, and I found that I liked and sympathized with both of them (though maybe Zan a little more). They are each harboring guilt and anger about the accident, although Lottie's anger is directed at Zan and his brother Zach, and Zan's is mostly directed at himself. From the beginning Lottie is honest with Zan about how she feels about him. Although it's tough at times to read her hostility from Zan's perspective, I could definitely understand her viewpoint and emotional struggle over reconciling the current Zan with the past event. I also appreciated that these two characters already knew each others' pasts, so the tension in the story wasn't based around them trying to open up to each other about the things that happened to them.
3) College Family: Besides Lottie and Zan, Deeper We Fall features a fantastic cast of characters that all popped off the page. Many I loved, a few I did not, but even those were complex and believable. I really enjoyed the college atmosphere that Chelsea Cameron developed, especially the feeling that you create your own family in college. I enjoyed watching these characters make friends and have each others' backs, in tough situations. But along side that, these characters did not forget their parents, and I appreciated that they were always a distant presence in their children's lives.
4) Siblings: I always love when a book highlights sibling relationships, and this one features several that are done well. Lottie and her twin brother Will are so close that they claim to have 'twindar' and can always tell when the other one is in trouble or hiding something. They are supportive of each other, hilarious together, and their relationship was one of my favorite parts of this story. Zan has an uneasy and complicated relationship with his older brother Zach, whom he knows is trouble. I really appreciated how the author tackled Zan's complex feelings for his older brother. Zan loves Zach but also despises him at times, and worries about his erratic behavior. I have a feeling that the third brother - sister relationship will come more into play in the second book in this companion series.
5) To Kill a Mockingbird: My favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird, but I rarely see it talked about in other books (usually in YA it's Wuthering Heights, ugh). But I love how the classic was used as a theme in Deeper We Fall. One of the characters even has an awesome tattoo inspired by the story. Zan's connection to the misunderstood Boo Radley, and Lottie's librarian mother always trying to use the story to solve her daughter's problems, were details that made me like Deeper We Fall even better.
6) Not perfect: However, for all I liked about this book, Deeper We Fall does have a few problems. The typical self-published grammatical and editing mistakes are present. Although this story felt fresh, because it didn't follow the Trauma Victim Plotline, it does employ some standard contemporary book elements. They didn't bother me so much though. There were a few places where I didn't think it was necessary to see the same interaction from both Lottie and Zan's perspective, though the author did less of this as the story progressed. The biggest trouble I had in this story, was the fact that the middle felt bit muddled and awkward, especially regarding the transition of Lottie's feelings and the change in her relationship with Zan. I wish a few things had happened a little smoother.
Overall I really enjoyed Deeper We Fall and found it to be a great addition to the New Adult/College Years genre.
Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone part of a companion series.