Love 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.
“We are the books we read and the things we love.”
Wow. I am stunned.
From afar, Words in Deep Blue may look like yet another book about anonymous letter writing and people magically finding lost notes but Cath Crowley’s take on this trope was unique and perfect. She turned the concept into a beautiful and heartbreaking story. The book deals with depression, loss of a family member, and grief. But also of hope, love and friendship.
Rachel returns to the city she grew up in about a year after her brother Cal drowned in an accident. She is reacquainted with her old best friends (one of them being Henry, the guy she had a huge crush on) but she hasn’t told anyone her brother. Rachel starts to slowly ease back into the lives of her former friends. She has a lot of memories in the town of her brother and it takes her time to sort them out.
Henry is also in the middle of a family disaster. His girlfriend just dumped him again. And it also seems like his family would be losing their second hand bookstore: Henry’s favorite place in the world. Rachel starts to work at their store once she moves back into town and they start to mend their relationship little by little. I liked both Henry and Rachel and I was rooting for them.
The side characters were all great and never felt one-dimensional. Henry’s family members were all dynamic characters. Did I mention his parents are actually a present part of the plot? I know it’s rare but it happens. I hope we get more parental presence in YA books in the future. Henry’s sister was probably my favorite character. I loved how different the two of them were and yet always looked after each other.
Sometimes I fall in love with characters, sometimes the plot, rarely the setting. But I have to say, if I could live in a book, I would choose this one solely because of the precious book store. The way the bookstore is described is every reader’s dreamland. The idea of the Letter Library especially was brilliant. (The Letter Library is a section of the store dedicated to people leaving letters for each other in the books). I loved reading the letters the characters would write to each other, the little highlighted quotes and passages. Years and years of people’s history on the margins of second hand books is a lovely concept to think about.
“Sometimes science isn’t enough. Sometimes you need the poets.”
I also fell in love with Crowley’s beautiful writing. She puts an emphasis on the power of words in the story and her writing is fully up to par with her theme. The book is just so quotable but never seems like it’s trying too hard.
Because I don’t want this review to have half the book written on it, I will refrain from writing down my favorite quotes (which basically consists of half the book). All in all, Words in Deep Blue made me cry (a lot) and it also made me laugh quite a bit and that’s the best reaction a book can give you.
Have you read this or are planning to?