In at the Deep End was a captivating light read that was full of humor and relationship exploration and woes.
Julia discovers she finds women attractive and so begins her exploration into dating females. Her discovery seemed very unrealistic, I wish the author had made the story one of Julia realizing something about herself in a more meaningful way rather than just "bad sex with a guy = must be gay". It seemed a poorly constructed and shallow way to lead Julia to her "sexual awakening" and was laughably unrealistic and took none of the nuances of gender/sexual identity into consideration. Even Julia treats her "awakening" like a stereotype joke, which was my first clue this book is humorous to the inth degree and not meant to be taken as a serious novel. The first part of the book almost had me leave the rest unfinished it was so bad, in my opinion. I wish the author hadn't so strongly equated sex to attraction and made things so binary in the first part of the book.
The filler conversation between characters seemed stiff and unnatural at times but then other times it was so entirely realistic and relateable. One thing beautifully captured in this book is the complexity of feelings you have in a relationship that isn't healthy. From an outsider perspective, we see the hoops Julia jumps through to justify her unhealthy relationship because of the love she feels for her girlfriend. I wish more attention had been given to this, more introspection or more development of the dynamics. What was given was an excellent depiction of gaslighting. It showed a very realistic subtly abusive relationship. There is little to no character development through the book, but Julia's character does acknowledge that she is probably the villain in her ex's story, which I think does give a good nod toward the complexity of blame in soured relationships.
The NSFW warning on the ARC was not a joke! The sex through the book made this the equivalent of a steamy romance filler novel. You know, the type that lacks much actual substance but is completely enjoyable for a vacation type read.
In at the Deep End is not a coming out story, it is not a romance story. It is not a realistic depiction of same sex relationships for most. It seems almost a memoir, and taken at that it is hilarious and fun to read. I laughed out loud at so many parts of this book that it was utterly enjoyable minus the first quarter of the book. It's a book that lacks depth or substance, but is an enjoyable light read sure to make you blush and laugh.