Book review: ‘Digging Deep’ by Jay Hogan

Heart-warming romance that makes grown men cry



“Digging Deep” captures the essence of a true relationship, with all the awkward moments included.

JUSTIN WASHINGTON, Evergreen reporter, columnist

In my search to find representation in books, I came across Jay Hogan’s “Digging Deep.” 

Given that it is a female author writing about a relationship between two gay men in a dual narrative format, I was curious how well Hogan would be able to write from the gay male perspective. Most of the time when authors attempt a queer perspective, they rely on oversexualized stereotypes that fail to make the characters distinguishable.

However, Hogan’s work offers a realistic portrayal of her characters and makes them relatable, likable and unique in their own special ways.

The story takes place in Whangarei, New Zealand, and follows both midwife Drake Park and senior detective Caleb Ashton.

Drake suffers from not only Crohn’s disease, but the woes of dealing with men who cannot commit to being in a relationship with him due to his condition. Because his condition requires a life with minimal stress, Drake almost resigns himself from love to avoid the constant heartbreak.

Caleb, on the other hand, is more than okay with switching out males like pairs of socks. As the epitome of masculinity with a sculpted body and passion for athleticism, he seems content with burning away the last of his youth having short flings for the fun of it. He has never been one for commitment. 

When both characters meet, their perceptions of relationships are greatly challenged.

The most magical aspect of this novel is the overarching theme of love in the face of difficulty. Love is hard and sometimes awkward. Being with someone takes a lot of sacrifice and tolerance. It becomes an overwhelming aspect of your life to the point where you stop and ask: “Just what the hell am I doing?”

“Digging Deep” shows that love is not always a euphoric, problem-free carnival ride. Ugliness might stain its presence and spikes will be scattered on the path towards it. Having this as the main focus of the plot makes the cheesy parts of the story so satisfying to read.

However, I do not think the theme would have been accomplished had Hogan not chosen to do a first-person, dual-narrative format. Seeing the internal thoughts and struggles between both Caleb and Drake made their bond appear so much deeper than an outsider’s words would ever be able to describe.

One notable aspect of this book is the humor. If you enjoy laughing while reading, this story will have you in stitches.

Most importantly, this book excels at making you feel emotion. With every character, I felt annoyance, frustration, sympathy, relief, happiness and even fear. I became so attached to the characters that I became personally connected to each one of them.

I felt like I was living this journey right along with everyone. That is why I could not help but break down into tears following the final page. I can almost guarantee that no matter your sexual or romantic preference, Caleb and Drake will make your heart throb.

This book is a perfect blend of drama and adorable romance. It should be everybody’s next read.