Official Review: Upside Down by Denny Cope

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.
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CommMayo
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Official Review: Upside Down by Denny Cope

Post by CommMayo » 12 Aug 2018, 15:47

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Upside Down" by Denny Cope.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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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.

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Upside Down
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Post by Cecilia_L » 13 Aug 2018, 12:16

There's something quite special about childhood friendships that endure the test of time. Your engaging review piqued my interest and I believe I would enjoy this book. Thanks for the recommendation!

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Post by kandscreeley » 13 Aug 2018, 12:24

I'm curious already about why Devin is avoiding his hometown! What tragic event kept him away? This sounds like a fabulous story in spite of the errors. It's easy enough to fix those if you have a well written story. Thanks for the review.
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Post by daydreaming reader » 13 Aug 2018, 17:03

Sounds like a very interesting read, however, I was not expecting anything to do with romance because of the name :lol: . Thank you for the review.
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Post by simple_reviewer_girl » 13 Aug 2018, 23:05

This book sounds very interesting! I believe I will wait until the book has been edited a bit more before giving it a shot. I personally have a hard time seeing through more than a few grammatical errors here and there. However, I will most definitely consider reading it in future! Wonderful review, thank you for your thoughts.

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Post by gen_g » 14 Aug 2018, 09:34

This sounds like a really exciting and touching read! I have to admit, I'm a huge sucker for the friends-into-lovers trope, so I'll definitely give this a try. Thanks for the amazing review, CommMayo!

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Post by AmySmiles » 16 Aug 2018, 10:27

Sponge cake made from an actual sponge? Yuck! Thanks for the review.
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Post by Sarah Tariq » 16 Aug 2018, 10:31

It's a very engaging read which takes you to the period of 1960's. I like such stories, so I'll try this one. Thanks for this well rounded review.
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Post by Ruba Abu Ali » 19 Aug 2018, 10:22

Once this book undergoes a round of editing, I will put it on the top of my reading list. The characters, the premise, and the skillful writing are all intriguing. Thanks for the engaging and thorough review.

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Post by CommMayo » 19 Aug 2018, 19:47

Thank you, everyone, for your comments. By no means is this a romance novel. I think one of the major points about this book is it difference between true love and romance. One of my favorite metaphors came from Di, when she spoke about their relationship like baking a cake. The order matters. You can't ice it before you bake it. If you do, it just won't be right.

Unfortunately, the author confirmed that this book was based on a true story.

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Post by teacherjh » 23 Aug 2018, 21:52

It sounds like a good romance with historical and even mysterious elements.

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Post by Fuzaila » 26 Aug 2018, 07:38

I'm glad you enjoyed the novel in spite of all the little grammatically incorrect sentence structures. I personally find it difficult to like books when they overuse ellipses or dashes; they just don't set the right mood. Great review.
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Post by Kajori50 » 02 Sep 2018, 11:15

Friendship is a very sweet relationship. It is an important element of love. This very fact attracts me to read the story of Devin and Diana. Also, the fact that the story is set in the 60's is an added perk.

Thank you for the great review.

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Post by Sweet Psamy » 07 Sep 2018, 07:43

I'm glad you enjoyed the story.I would love to read about how the chlid hood friendship gradually evolved to a mature love.

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Post by kfwilson6 » 12 Sep 2018, 13:03

Humble pie made with an actual sponge; that is hilarious. Some girls are quite feisty. Diana sounds like an amazing character. No wonder Devin wanted more than a childhood friendship. I would be nervous about the tragedy too. The first book I reviewed had an absolutely horrifying scene with a young child that has stuck with me the past 7 months since I read it. Some writers really kick you in the gut with emotion.

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