This is a love story. It's the story of a second-hand bookshop called Howling Books where people leave letters to strangers, or those they love, or want to love, between the pages of books in the Letter Library.
Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie are best friends. Or they were. Before Rachel moved away to the sea. Now, she's back, grieving for her brother Cal who drowned in the sea that he loved.
Rachel loves Henry. Henry loves Amy. Amy loves Amy but is happy for Henry to love her too.
This is a book about books. About the power of literature to cradle our past, present and future selves. It's about how we leave ourselves behind when we die. How we leave our histories in the things we love - like books.
ARC received for review purposes in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
HOW? How do Aussie YA authors do this? How do they just take a seemingly straightforward premise and make it wholeheartedly their own? Seriously, I bow down to their genius. My real love affair with Aussie YA started with Cath Crowley’s Graffiti Moon. When I read the synopsis of Words in Deep Blue, I knew that I had to have it in my life. This book slowly crept up on me and by the end, had me bawling my eyes out.
Told in the point of views of two friends, Rachel and Henry , and set in a quaint little second-hand bookstore, Words in Deep Blue was a book bursting with heart and emotions. Rachel’s voice nearly destroyed me with how poignant and emotional it was. It was full of grief as a result of having lost her younger brother, Cal, to a drowning and she was dealing with a lot of pain. It’s always a little hard for me to read books about grief and loss, but Cath Crowley knew how to write those themes in a way that touched me and made me feel. Rachel’s incredible journey to learning to live with her loss wasn’t an easy one for her, but she grew to become accepting of her new reality. Henry, on the other hand, I had conflicted feelings about. He was bullheaded in his staunch belief that his selfish ex-girlfriend, Amy, was the only girl for him. Frustrating as that was for readers, it was easy to see where he was coming from, being that he was a hopelessly romantic teen boy and all. Despite his flaws, he had some really great qualities: his loyalty to his family, his protectiveness when it came to his friends and his willingness to provide a shoulder to Rachel to lean on when she needed one. He was an all-around sweet guy, and a perfect fit for Rachel. Their romance was one that slowly evolved from a friendship. They had a one-sided romance before Rachel left town, and while it takes Henry quite some time to realize just how wonderfully perfect she was for him, the friendship the two shared made it all worth the wait.
Words in Deep Blue was much much more than just Rachel and Henry’s stories of self-discovery. They may be the narrators, but the secondary cast was just as invigorating. Family and friendship intersect in this story and it’s amazing to watch unfold. From George, Henry’s quirky and outspoken sister, who is ready to find love in her life to Henry’s father, whose love for his little bookstore made my heart ache to Cal, Rachel’s dead brother whose goofiness and love for the ocean made me cry. It’s truly an extraordinary feat when an author is able to make the secondary characters’ stories shine just as bright as the main characters’ – all the stories that I fell in love with here were full of heartbreak and hope. One reason I was more than eager to pick up Words in Deep Blue was the secondhand bookstore setting that Henry’s family owns. The bookshop in itself was a character with how vibrantly it was described as well as the stories that the books held and I’m not just talking about the books’ stories themselves. At Howling Books, people leave each other letters between the pages of the books and man, those letters just made my heart soar and completely swept me away.
Cath Crowley’s Words in Deep Blue is what dreams are made of. It’s one of those gem of a book that I know that I will repeatedly read passages and I know that every time I do so it will cause a tiny pang in my heart. It’s beautiful and evocative and romantic and passionate and poignant and unforgettable. I am so grateful that Cath Crowley has graced the literature community with this book. It’s a story that will stay with me forever.