Words in deep blue

Cath Crowley

Book - 2017

Teenagers Rachel and Henry find their way back to each other while working in an old bookstore full of secrets and crushes, love letters and memories, grief and hope.

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YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Crowley, Cath
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Subjects
Published
New York : Alfred A. Knopf [2017]
Edition
First American edition
Language
English
Physical Description
269 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9781101937648
1101937645
Main Author
Cath Crowley (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* It's rare that a book beginning with epigraphs by Franz Kafka and David Foster Wallace lives up to those weighty words. It works in this small Australian novel because here, and in the bookshop that provides its setting, the weight of the words is measured by the connections between the people who read them. Three years ago, Rachel moved away after writing a love letter to her best friend, Henry, which he never received. Now she's back, having failed year 12 and lost her brother in a drowning accident—but she's not speaking about any of that. She and Henry tenuously restart their friendship as Rachel works at the bookshop Henry manages. Rachel catalogs the shop's most unique feature, the Letter Library, which holds books with inscriptions, notes slipped between pages, and years of correspondence between lovers and strangers. It's a project that, like the book itself, is bittersweet: the bookshop is for sale, which could set Henry on a path directly away from Rachel. In Rachel's and Henry's alternating chapters, interspersed with excerpts from the Letter Library, the mysteries of love, loss, death, and missed connections are explored. As she did in Graffiti Moon (2012), Crowley has built a warm cast of surprising and memorable characters and placed them in universal circumstances that slowly unfold into something extraordinary. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Eighteen-year-old Rachel, still traumatized by the death of her brother, wants to be far from the ocean where he drowned; she decides to move back to suburban Melbourne, where she grew up, to live with her aunt. Meanwhile, Henry, Rachel's former best friend in Gracetown, is also confronting loss: his girlfriend just broke up with him, and his parents have decided to sell their bookstore, his place of refuge. In this novel set in Australia, mostly at the bookstore, Crowley (Graffiti Moon) effectively conveys the complexities of love, death, time through Rachel and Henry's alternating narratives, as well as letters and notes pulled from the pages of old books. It's only after Rachel takes a job at the store that she begins to heal, coming to terms with her failures, Cal's death, and her rekindled love for Henry, who is wrapped up getting his girlfriend back. Filled with soul searching and philosophical quips, this book is for thinkers and lovers of literature who, like Rachel and Henry, are passionate about ideas and searching for answers. Ages 14–up. Agent: Catherine Drayton, Inkwell Management. (June) Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 9 Up—An astonishingly realistic look at loss, grief, love, and the importance of words. Rachel Sweetie's world changed forever the day her little brother Cal drowned. In the eight months since, she's failed to graduate from school and alienated most of her friends. Rachel's family seems to think returning to live with her aunt in their old hometown will help. She's up for the change of scenery, if only it didn't mean seeing her ex—best friend Henry. Before moving, Rachel wrote a letter to Henry professing her love and left it in his family's bookstore, Letter Library. Customers communicate with one another by writing in and marking up a select set of books and by leaving letters in between the pages. Henry never responded. He and many of the other characters are undergoing losses of their own, in varying degrees. The secondary characters are multidimensional and well defined, and their struggles are equally touching. Readers will identify with and root for them. This poignant tale exquisitely chronicles the journey from hopelessness to learning to live again. The charismatic and well-crafted cast will immediately draw readers in. There aren't pat happy endings for anyone, and the story is better for it. VERDICT This rewarding novel packs an emotional wallop; a must-purchase.—Cindy Wall, Southington Library & Museum, CT Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Returning to the city and bookstore of her youth, years after tucking a love letter to her crush, Henry, within the pages of his favorite book, Rachel embarks on a revelatory correspondence with Henry as she works alongside him at the bookstore and finds herself falling in love with him all over again. Simultaneous eBook.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

“One of the loveliest, most exquisitely beautiful books I’ve read in a very long time. . . . I didn’t just read the pages, I lived in them.” —Jennifer Niven, New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places  A beautiful love story for fans of Jandy Nelson and Nicola Yoon: two teens find their way back to each other in a bookstore full of secrets and crushes, grief and hope—and letters hidden between the pages.  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.