March 4, 2015

ARC Review: Into the Deep End by Leesa Freeman

Into the Deep End
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*I received a digital ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Get a copy here!

I loved this book!
Yeah, Into the Deep End left a deep mark in my heart. I always find a book with flawed main characters is the most interesting book to read. Even though sometimes it’s kind of frustrating to see they fight their own demon, I find joy when they finally able to prove their worth. Moreover if there’s love involved. And this book managed to give me that and with a bonus of inspiring lesson of life.

Luke Stevenson’s life might be the life that everyone’s been dreaming of. Attractive appearance, gorgeous swimmer-body, promising future education and career, best friends, beautiful twin sister. He had it all and thought that life sometimes could be really nice to some people. But one miserable night changed his life completely into the life he could never imagine before. Tragic car accident left really deep holes in his life. Luke lost his adorable twin sister and his best friend. And he had to mourn over the awful losses from a wheelchair that only God knows until when he would need in his life. Luke spent his days hating everyone around him ever since. He even hated himself, God, how he hated himself so damn much. How he hated to be in a wheelchair, how he hated everyone who gave him pity look, how he hated the way his parent cope up with the loss of their only daughter, how he hated the stupid drunk who crashed their car that night, how he hated to be the one who’s left alive, how he hated seeing Adrianna -who was used to be his dream girl- now, because she was like the representative of everything that he lost that night.
Paraplegic with mental scar might not be a really good picture to imagine for every living person. If only he got to choose, he would always choose to exchange places with his sister forever. Dealing with his flawed soul took a hell lot of energy he had inside. Not helping to have parents who didn’t deal well with their own grieves. That’s why going to Camp Caballero seemed like a really bad idea for him. Not just because it was a camp where he would be one of the volunteer for kids ‘like-him’ but also he would spend entire time on the camp with Adrianna. He must have done a very fatal sin in the past to be punished to this extent.

When Gina, the other volunteer on the camp, the cheerful soft hearted and determined Gina invaded his comfort zone and slowly peeling the insecurities that he didn’t know he was covered in, would it be the end of his constant gloominess? What he didn’t know was that the camp might not be his form of punishment like he thought so; it might be some kind of clarity if he took the right step and chose the right person to spend time during his present there. Would Luke be able to prove one of the two facts? The former or the latter, it was only these certain things that Luke had to do to find out: fight his own conflict, join the camp and let people in along with all the risks they brought with them.

Into the Deep End actually had a very simple plot, the climax barely made an appearance but the whole purpose of the story was shown clearly and really uplifting. I’ve read book with paraplegic main character before. But it wasn’t focusing on how paraplegic could go on with his life (it was the reverse, though), so it was kind of depressing and heartbreaking. I’m glad that Ms. Leesa led the angle into positive side. I totally loved how she made Luke’s character here. Yes, he might appear rude in the surface but he had something inside that somehow kept pushing him to stay strong and deal with the storm. I could see some of myself in him, how he didn’t like to show much eagerness in the outside but he kept it in the inside and secretly grew his own strength and passion to achieve it. That’s totally me.
Ms. Leesa did a good job blending some information about paraplegic into the story. I am amazed by all the works she’d done to get a much better understanding of Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI). I’ve never meet a paraplegic before, but now I know that there’s a lot of type of spinal cord injuries and not every SCIs means not being able to use the half down of the body completely. It’s more complex than that. I found myself feel so touched several times. The part where Uncle Wally told the story from his dark moment during the past, I totally lost it there. Also the scenes with the kids on the camp, how they carried themselves around Luke and how Luke silently learned from them, it was one inspiring scene that will forever etched in my mind.
“It’s not doing something that makes you uncool. It’s not doing it that’s not cool.”
(Luke Stevenson)
God, I loved that saying! And when Adrianna recited it and told Luke how she accidentally heard him saying it, God, it’s so damn touching! Oh I also had one other saying that I am a hundred percent totally agree with:
“…letting go didn’t mean I loved him any less, it meant I trusted him enough to not disappear.” 
Wow, just how true it is! Way to go, Ms. Leesa!
I think it’s a brilliant step that Ms. Leesa chose to focus on the effect of SCIs on one’s sexual ability. It’s a really important thing that lots of people concern about when they got a SCI or when people they loved got into one. How she used the term ‘changing the definition of sex’ was one great idea. This is where loves play its roles.
“Uncle Wally once said the guy I was is still inside, I just had to let him out. Thing is, I don’t know how you knew how to find him. I don’t know how you helped me figure out how to reach him, but no matter how many times I pushed back, you kept reaching for me.” 
I loved how Ms. Leesa made an ending that was not cliché at all. I started reading this book with my own imagination of ending in mind, but it was totally far from what this book offered and I really really loved how it turned out! Loved the epilogue!!!
Into the Deep End is a light read that you’ll definitely enjoy. Despite the awful tragedy, the story didn’t seem depressing, but still can kick your heart with enough push to make it ache for the character.
And for Ms. Leesa Freeman, thank you for letting me read such an amazing read to start my reading year! :)

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.


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