Deeper by Robin York (review copy) - When Caroline Piasecki's ex-boyfriend posts their sex pictures on the Internet, it destroys her reputation as a nice college girl. Suddenly her once-promising future doesn't look so bright. Caroline tries to make the pictures disappear; hoping time will bury her shame. Then a guy she barely knows rises to her defence and punches her ex to the ground.
West Leavitt is the last person Caroline needs in her life. Everyone knows he's shady. Still, Caroline is drawn to his confidence and swagger - even after promising her dad she'll keep her distance. On late, sleepless nights, Caroline starts wandering into the bakery where West works.
They hang out, they talk, they listen. Though Caroline and West tell each other they're 'just friends,' their feelings intensify until it becomes impossible to pretend. The more complicated her relationship with West gets, the harder Caroline has to struggle to discover what she wants for herself - and the easier it becomes to find the courage she needs to fight back against the people who would judge her.
When all seems lost, sometimes the only place to go is deeper. From Goodreads
When I first heard what Deeper was about, I knew I just had to read it. A book about "revenge porn"/"non-consensual pornography"? Something you don't read about often, but such an important subject. But Deeper is about so much more than that. It's an absolutely beautiful love story.
Caroline's life is turned upside down when her ex-boyfriend posts photos of her having sex with him online. The whole college has seen those photos, and she can help but imagine what these people think of her whenever she leaves her room. But when resident bad boy, West, defends her when her ex is mouthing off about her, everything changes. Through their non-friendship, West shows her that she doesn't have to hide, that she should stand up and fight, and go for the life she wants. West's own life isn't a breeze, and knows what it's like to fight for to make life better. As their feelings for each other grow, and their non-friendship heads towards something more, they show each other there is a possibility of a life they would never have imagined.
Deeper is a beautiful and powerful story narrated by both Caroline and West in alternating chapters, generally each person narrating a month within the story. At first, I thought it was going to be a similar, more grown up version of Good Girls by Laura Ruby. But Deeper isn't about non-consensual pornography. What Nate, Caroline's ex, does is absolutely disgusting, and is a huge part of the story, of Caroline's story, but Deeper is about Caroline's life. And West's. So the fact that those photos have been seen by hundreds of people, although a huge deal, it doesn't overshadow the whole story. It's not the soul focus of every single page. I was expecting it to take up a hell of a lot more page time than it did, but I'm glad it didn't. It's not about how awful it is, it's about beating it and moving forward. It's done in such a fantastic way, with West showing Caroline there's so much more that should be taking up her head space, that she could be spending her time on.
West is trying so hard to be someone he's not. He's flirty, he's sexy, and he does some things a lot of people wouldn't agree with, but he's not your typical bad boy. He's a great, great guy. West's family is dirt poor, and he's doing all he can to get them a better life. His mother is hopeless and keeps going back to his abusive dad, who only sticks around long enough to get what he wants until he's bored. West's younger sister is only nine, and he has to take care of her, because their mother is just so flighty and irresponsible. He has had to work his backside off and do terrible (for himself) things to earn money, to keep them all afloat. He's only at Putman because of a generous, rich donor is paying for his tuition, and he works three jobs and sells drugs to send money back home, and does all he can to keep his grades up. He will graduate and get a better life for his younger sister. He will get her out of that crappy trailer park and make damn sure she doesn't end up like their mum. He has a plan, he has people depending on him, he can't afford a distraction in the form of Caroline. So those two being not-friends is the only way to go - even if she does spend most nights hanging out with him as he works over night at the bakery.
If I was to talk about anything negative about the story, it would be the language. There is so much of it. Words are used to shock, words I don't want to hear, but in the right way, as these are words that aimed at Caroline because of her photos. She is treated so disgustingly by these anonymous commenters. But West is a swearer. A big swearer, he has a mouth like a sewer. And a word I find highly offensive is used several times throughout the book. Normally, this would stop me reading a book altogether, but I was so gripped by the story, in the end, my need to read this book won over my disgust at the language coming out West's mouth.
What blew me away about Deeper is how honest it is. Being NA, the characters are more honest about what they think than in other novels - even other NA novels. Like when small, completely normal things the other does turns them on, for example. It's less hot for the sake of it, but more honest, real. This is what people actually think. Not just sex related, but other things too. Things people don't say out loud, but things they think.
What I loved most is that the sex in Deeper didn't overshadow the characters. It was hot, but not as important as the two people having sex. Some of the hotter NA I've read just has sex for sex's sake. It gets a bit boring and, well, annoying. Deeper is just honest. People have sex, but there's more to people than sex. They have stories too. Sex is just a part of their lives. And Deeper really shows those stories are important, more important. Sex doesn't have to be the be-all and end-all of NA.
Saying that, there is a lot of sexual activity going on in Deeper. It's quite graphic, and I could say it's "dirtier" than other books I've read, but not in the sense that York was thinking, "I'll write this, and it will turn the readers on." More like, "This is what people do when they have sex." Again, honest. Real. Not hiding anything. And I think that links back to the photos. Caroline feels ashamed about the photos, and a lot of comments people leave on them are insults to her. But she didn't do anything wrong. She had sex with her boyfriend - normal - and some photos were taken - it happens. Nothing wrong. Nothing dirty. Nothing to be ashamed of. People have sex, it's one of the most natural things in the world, and what people do in private is no-one's business but their own. That's what comes across through the story regarding the photos, and through the extent to which sex is described.
Deeper is such a beautiful, beautiful story! The end is absolutely heartbreaking, and I've no idea what I'm going to do until Harder, the second book in the series, comes out. I didn't want the story to end, I love these two together! If there's one NA novel you read this year, it absolutely has to be Deeper.
Thank you to Piatkus for the review copy.
Published: 6th March 2014
Robin York's Website