Review: Deep Down True

Title: Deep Down True

Author: Juliette Fay

Genre/Pages: Fiction/432

Publisher: Penguin

Release Date: January 25, 2011

Rating: 4 Bookmarks

Source: Publisher

Nat’s One-Sentence Synopsis:  Freshly minted divorcee Dana Stellgarten attempts to navigate the waters of single-parenting and encounters a few sharks and rough waters along the way.

I received this novel unsolicited from the publisher and while attracted to the cover, the synopsis didn’t grab me.  After settling down to read it, I found myself wholly engrossed with Juliette Fay’s writing–honest and devoid of gimmicks.  A book that could easily be categorized as ‘chick-lit’ becomes much more under Fay’s direction.  Her prose is simple yet elegant, and I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

Fay managed to develop authentic voices for a variety of diverse characters–a single mom, preteen daughter, young son, and angst riddled niece– while also writing some great dialogue for some secondary male characters.  While the novel’s plot wasn’t earth shattering–no major twists or turns–Fay kept the story moving along a credible arc and kept me vested in the characters.  It examined the mundaness and events of day-to-day living, the small details that create the bigger mosaic of life.

Tackling divorce, bulimia, dating, family conflicts, and the social hierarchy of middle school and adult friendship, Fay conveys the story, choosing her words with care and peppering in humor along the way.  When Dana’s preteen daughter, Morgan, struggles with an eating disorder and the savage world of middle school, I felt sympathy for this fictional character because her pain was so vivid.

This book would be an excellent choice for a book club because its themes and conflicts are relatable and the discussion points are many.  The novel also includes an author interview and discussion questions that would further foster conversation about Deep Down True.  Juliette Fay wrote another novel–Shelter Me–and it’s now on my TBR list!  I was so happy to be pleasantly surprised by a book–it’s been a while since that’s happened for me.


  1. Shelter Me was on my favorites list a couple of years ago so I’ll be looking for Deep Down True. Nice review!

  2. I’m drawn to that cover as well, so I’m glad to see you liked the book more than you expected.

  3. Book surprises are the best! I love when a novel really creeps up on me and makes me fall in love with it. Sounds like one I would enjoy, too.

  4. This is probably not one I would rush to pluck off the shelf but it sounds quite appealing to me as you’ve described it.

  5. Wow … sounds like a real find. I love when that happens.

  6. meg, i do think you’d like this one, though marcus flutie is noticably absent. have you read bumped YET? i keep harrassing you but we need to chat about it soon. 🙂

  7. yes, it’s pleasant to be surprised as i wasn’t particularly looking forward to this because it was more about single parenting and kids, stuff that i can’t really relate to. but honestly, the writing elevated the story, and i liked it despite my tepid initial feelings.

  8. I have this on my TBR so I skipped to the end to see that you liked it. Pamela Dorman worked to bring the book to print, so I was sure it would be a winner.

  9. i always love it when a book exceeds my expectations! i’m definitely going to have to add this one to my wishlist now after reading your review of it.

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