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Monday, February 17, 2014

Deep Winter: A Novel

Deep Winter by Samuel W. Gailey could be the title for the world in which I am living right now. Instead, it is the title of a novel that punched me in the gut. 

In Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, one night will change everything for its residents. Danny Bedford is a gentle giant, a man who will forever be eight years old after an accident through which he barely made it also killed his parents. Mindy, a local waitress, is one of his only true friends, and the night that she dies finds Danny arriving to present her a birthday present, only to be framed for her murder. Will the truth come out that night--or will it cost many more lives in the search for justice?

This was a fairly short novel that carried quite a bit of punch. Always told in the third person but toggling between perspectives, the 24 or so hours over which this story takes place is intense and brutal in its honesty with its readers. Danny, as I said, is a gentle giant who wants to hurt absolutely no one, and his deep and abiding love for Mindy is platonic and wholesome. She treats him as though he is a human, and this is missing in Danny's life in Wyalusing. He is treated as a freak and an outcast, someone who may harm at any given chance. Danny just wants what we all want--to be accepted, and to be loved.

I realize that the local deputy, Sokowski, is supposed to be a hated jerk, but I really just wanted to reach through to pages and kill him myself. He was beyond horrid--he was genuinely evil, and it's not hard to say that we have all met a character or two like him in our lives. I have to say though, that as much as I hated him, I had to respect Gailey for creating such a fully-formed and disgusting human being, the reality being that if he was not such a great character, I wouldn't have cared enough to hate him so intensely.

This book was well worth the time I spent with it and lived inside Wyalusing for a few hours. I grew to love Danny and found myself rooting for him to get away. There were other characters to like in this book, but I really gravitated toward the child-like adult that Danny was. I wanted him to not just be OK but to ultimately thrive after such a nightmare times two--first his childhood accident, then the loss of his only true friend. Danny wasn't even aware that he was accused of the murder--to him, he lost his best and only friend, his confidant and his cheerleader. That is enough to break a spirit.

Which is why it's a miracle when it doesn't.

Kindle version on left, hard copy on right.

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