Thursday, 20 July 2017

Words in Deep Blue

Author: Cath Crowley
Genre: Teen, Contemporary Fiction
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 273
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Alfred A Knopf Books for Young Readers
First Published: August 30, 2016
First Line: "Every love story is a ghost story."

Book Description from GoodReadsLove lives between the lines.

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, and the escape. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore. She can’t see her future.

Henry’s future isn’t looking too promising, either. His girlfriend dumped him. The bookstore is slipping away. And his family is breaking apart.

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.

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Knopf Publishing for providing me with a hardcover copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: I picked up this book based on its bookishly blissful locale - a secondhand bookshop and its Letter Library - a spot where the books are not for purchase but instead act as a drop off point for people to leave personal letters to each other. The back and forth between the recipients was a unique way to tell the story and ... it's a bookshop, people! 'Nuff said.

The book has a good premise and a varied cast. Rachel and Henry had some delightfully witty banter but I didn't quite feel their romantic bond. As main characters go, they were a little underwhelming. Henry was nervous and desperately needy and he's hung up on his on-again/off-again girlfriend Amy (the poster child for narcissism and whose redeeming qualities only Henry can see through his rose coloured glasses). Rachel's profound loss over her brother is sad and I felt for her but I didn't connect with her either. All is not lost though, I quite enjoyed secondary characters George and Martin who were quite endearing, a breath of fresh air and my favourite characters of the bunch.

Overall, the pacing was on the slower side but I was kept engaged. The plot has some teen angst and family issues that propelled it along but I wasn't a fan of misunderstandings between the characters. You know, the kind that can be resolved with a simple one minute conversation? I sort of understood why Rachel kept the death of her brother a secret. But when there are misunderstandings that could have been easily fixed but the author chooses to draw it out for too long, it bothers me and reminds me of an episode of Three's Company (I'm dating myself).

This book had a great setting and premise but it's lighter on the emotion and depth than I was expecting. The unique use of the Letter Library and the author's obvious love of books are what will stand out the most for me. This is a lighter read with some twists, a focus on unrequited love and the sometimes all-consuming feelings of loss. If you're a bibliophile and in the mood for a lighter, sometimes funny, slightly angsty teen read you may want to pick this book up.

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