“We are the books we read and the things we love.”
― Cath Crowley,
Published: August 30th, 2016
I got this book as a birthday gift, not knowing what it was about. When my friend told me about the bookish background of this novel, I was instantly intrigued and fortunately, not disappointed when I started reading. I think this is a perfect contemporary for book lovers.
But first the premise:
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.
What made this novel so special to me was the concept of the Letter Library. The main protagonist’s family owns a bookshop which sells secondhand books. Howling Books does not only sell used books but has the so-called Letter Library which is basically a Library or a section of the bookshop where people can take notes in books, underline, circle, write in them, even leave letters in between pages. The catch is that the books in this section of the bookshop cannot be bought or borrowed. Basically the Letter Library houses thousands of stories inside stories. And one of those stories belongs to Rachel and Henry.
Are you sold yet? Alright.
The concept of the Letter Library also gives room for a different kind of layout or rather structure, concerning the novel. Not only does the reader get the usual written pages but also insight on some of the letters left between the pages of certain books that also influence the plot.
Besides the lovely and very special concept of the Letter Library, Cath Crowley writes about a very relatable pair of characters who are both going through hard times and seem to eventually find each other during that process.
But of course, there are no perfect protagonists.
What made me want to scream internally and externally the most, was definitely Henry’s character, due to his ignorance towards Rachel and very high attention rate towards Amy and blindness, in terms of Amy’s pretentious love towards him.
Equally as annoying as Henry’s ignorance was Rachel’s hesitation or maybe even resistance, not to tell Henry and Lola, her best friends, about her brother’s death (for one whole year, by the way). The lack of trust between Henry and Rachel in the beginning, especially, made me roll my eyes at times, waiting expectantly for the ice to break between the two protagonists.
Eventually, Rachel and Henry start to see how they are both blocking their future together, working out their problems and allowing themselves to live and enjoy the moment.
The only question mark left in the end, was Rachel’s mother, at least for me. I would have definitely wanted to read more about her and Rachel’s relationship. Maybe a little conversation between the two would have cleared up some loose thoughts left.
What I really loved about this novel was the way how the author built her story on the mutual love for books and words that almost all characters, and especially Henry and Rachel shared. The aspect of the bookshop as the main setting really intrigued me and I could easily make out mutual points or opinion, shared between myself and one of the characters which opened up a whole new sight of the characters and their mindset.
Even though Words in Deep Blue deals with death and grief and overcoming your fears, the issues that the characters go through are not, bluntly said, shoved in the reader’s face, they rather take a backseat to the relationships between the characters and their character development.
All in all, I would definitely recommend this to everyone who loves contemporary novels with realistic plotlines and relatable characters.
In Words in Deep Blue, Cath Crowley manages to intertwine the lives of multiple characters that all come together in the bookshop that contains more than just the story of Rachel and Henry.
Overall Rating: 4.25/5 stars
Thank you so much for reading and I’ll see you in my next post!
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