Received a copy of Deep Down Things by Tamara Linse through the First Reads Giveaway program in exchange for an honest review
In Loveland, Colorado; "The Sweetheart City" as it is affectionately referred to by the town locals, is a town not advertised but with a reputation to be filled with drunks. To the core of the city the redeeming qualities lie in the environment as it is a great place to live and raise a family. Not far from the ranches, mountains, the water, or the expansive greenspace there is plenty for the outdoor enthusiast to do. During a seasonal January complete with a winter chill is where the story of the Jordan family begins to reveal itself. The reader has to deal with a lack of background information provided by the author. From what I can recall you are only aware of the more poignant moments and various details learned through countless back and forths that are spurred by personal reflections and memories. It is the job of the reader to fill in some of the blanks and draw their own conclusions.
Jackdaw Donner is a man that exudes confidence and thrives when he is the centre of attention. He has a gung-ho approach to life and claims to have been everywhere and done everything you could imagine. His current passion is bull riding and writing fiction and "cowboy poetry" which he is embarking on with the same approach that he is towards life. When you first encounter him it is obvious to see that he is a smart, good looking man with an omnipotence that is magnetic. All men want to be him and all women want to be with him. When you walk in his shoes and look behind the facade you begin to understand the confusion and conflicts that trouble him and have followed him from his childhood. One person's vulnerability is another person's mystery that is just beneath the surface begging to be solved.
Cleopatra "CJ" Jordan is the oldest of the Jordan clan. In her mind her whole family is crazy and always has been. After her parents died in a tragic accident she became the primary caregiver for her younger sister and brother. She was the rock, the glue that kept their family together when it easily could have been torn apart. As she grows up, her familial responsibilities have put her scholastic ambitions on the back burner as she takes a job as a bartender at Golddiggers to support her family. At a scheduled doctor's appointment she is told some bad news as she finds out that she is fertile and will not be able to have children. You feel her pain, but she doesn't really demonstrate to her friends and family how much it is bothering her. Her younger sister notices that she is drinking a little more than she used to and sees first hand a different side of her bigger sister. She hopes that CJ will be able keep it together and avoid the downward spiral that has destroyed many in the community.
Tiberius "Tibs" Jordan is a young man that is in constant search of something that he has been looking for quite some time. He slowly withdraws from the things and the people he loves until a fortuitous situation brings it all back together. By nature he is a meek, mild-mannered, deliberate young man that has a tendency of letting his head get ahead of his heart. Most times this would be an encouraged practice, but for Tibs he is finding that his personal, professional, and spiritual existence are lacking. He believes he has found that certain something he's needed in a friendship that provides him an excitement, a safety, and a security that he hasn't felt for years.
Magdalene "Maggie" Jordan desperately wants her family back to the way it was. Being the youngest of the bunch her memories of her parents are not as pronounced as her siblings and some would argue a little skewed in the wrong direction. With youth comes naivety and optimism, and with naivety and optimism comes bad judgment if not channeled correctly. She is described as being a natural beauty with the girl next door attributes that make her a prototypical take-home-to-mama kind of young woman. While dealing with the death of her parents she is trying to make the best of a bad situation and will stop at nothing in her pursuit of happiness.
Written in first person you travel from four different points of view with narratives that reflect each of their unique characters. The great changes that each character encounters during their journey enabled this ambitious type of narrative to work. From a personal viewpoint I also appreciate that the author didn't retell the same events from character to character with voice and perspective being the only change. Each narrative has its individuality but remain united when it comes to the totality of the story. This is an emotionally riveting, heartbreaking read that demonstrates how trouble evades no person and has no limits to its potential destruction. This story also shows how people can create their own conflicts as they try to fulfill a desire based on family relationships, personal expectations or the expectations of others.
"When my face is close to hers, I stood for just a second to look at her. She looks like the Virgin Mary, so beautiful, so perfect, so pristine. I want to stop but then I don't. I lean in and close my eyes and feel the softness of her lips on mine. It shoots electricity through me and we're connected, she and I, connected deep and forever in a way I hadn't expected.
I want her. I want her to be mine. I don't want anyone else to have any piece of her. And emotion rises in me that I can't name."