3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
When Diana McCluskey was in fourth grade, she served up some humble pie to Devin Coble in the form of a sponge cake made with an actual sponge. From that day forward, they were inseparable friends. Denny Cope’s Upside Down reads like a memoir as you follow the evolving friendship between two kids as their feelings for each other transition into love.
The novel opens with an adult Devin reluctantly returning to his hometown of Rapid City, South Dakota. Readers are instantly aware that he has been avoiding his hometown for the last forty-five years because of an unknown personal tragedy. This early admission keeps you nervously reading on to discover what happened as you are taken back to 1964 in Devin’s memories. In the meantime, you fall in love with the retelling of a friendship for the ages.
Denny Cope beautifully captures the childlike innocence of the 1960s and expertly weaves in the reality of the Vietnam War and the seismic culture shift looming on the horizon. His story depicts a true love that is patiently built on a solid foundation of mutual respect and friendship. Cope’s writing style draws you in through his ability to spin engaging conversation and humorous situations in a relaxed storytelling manner. The wisdom and insight that come from the character of Diana is humbling and makes the reader simply fall in love with the story as the main characters transition from innocent, through awkward, and end with mature love.
While I do not think the novel has been professionally edited, I get the sense that the author will take that next step after garnering feedback. I did find some grammatical, spelling, and formatting issues, but they in no way detracted from the amazing novel. In general, ellipses and dashes were a bit overused. In some cases, it could be hard to tell who was speaking, as conversations weren’t always separated by a line break when there was a change in who was talking. A quick cleanup of these issues will push this book to the top of the charts. The story flowed beautifully and it never lagged. I did not want the book to end, mostly because of the foreshadowing in the first chapter of the novel.
Despite the issues with editing, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. Once it goes through a final clean up, it will easily be a four star book. While the premise is about a budding relationship, I would not categorize Upside Down under romance. Anyone interested in life in the 1960s or touching memoirs will adore this book. It amazed me how quickly I became attached to the characters, and Cope was able to wring every emotion out of me in this touching novel.
View: on Bookshelves
Like CommMayo's review? Post a comment saying so!