I received this book for free from Publisher at ALA Midwinter in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on June 6th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Publisher at ALA Midwinter
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Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.
Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore.
As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.
It’s been many years since I was introduced to Cath Crowley’s writing in Graffiti Moon, so another great sounding novel by the author was a no-brainer read for me.
Words in Deep Blue tells the story of a girl, Rachel, who is struggling after the death of her brother. She fails out of Year 12 and doesn’t know how she will ever complete her life-long dream of studying deep-sea fish in the very ocean that took her brother from her. She reluctantly gets a job in her old town at the secondhand bookshop owned by her old friend and crush, Henry, the very boy she opened up her heart to in a letter right before she left town that went unanswered.
I immediately felt for Rachel and everything she was going through. Grief comes in many forms and people deal with it in different ways. I understood her desire to escape and not talk about it, though I didn’t necessarily agree with the extent she took it at times. But every emotion she felt and the stages she went through broke my heart with how real she was written. Her brother had a very strong presence through her memories with such a vibrant personality that made such a tragedy even more agonizing.
There seems to be a trend of books with communication through letters this year and I’m all for it! The main avenue through which it happens in this novel is through the Letter Library. Patrons can leave little marks and notes in the margin of the books and also leave folded letters in the pages for others to find. How cool is that? We saw correspondence between a few characters in this way, my favorite being from Henry’s sister, George and a mystery admirer. George was absolutely one of my favorite characters throughout. She was quirky and unapologetically herself and made such a mark on the story being told.
The bookshop setting was basically everything. The Letter Library, the book club, the reading garden, beingg a secondhand shop, how it closed whenever… it just felt so organic and like a place I wanted to be a part of.
I was so very excited for the friends to lovers trope with this one. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the romantic connection. Henry is a very all in type of guy who wears his heart on his sleeve and falls into an almost desperate love. We see that with his ex, who he is trying to get back together with for most of the novel and at times it’s embarrassingly awkward. Poor guy. I just didn’t feel that in regards to Rachel. I felt a strong friendship that was being glued back together piece by piece after years apart but I didn’t find the romance I longed for between the two.
The message of hope was strong in these pages and even moreso upon its closure. The way everything came together was deeply moving and is one to check out!