Originally Posted: May 1
Words in Deep Blue – published 2016
“This is a love story. It’s the story of Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets. It’s the story of Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie. They were best friends once, before Rachel moved to the sea. Now, she’s back, working at the bookstore, grieving for her brother Cal and looking for the future in the books people love, and the words they leave behind.” – Goodreads
When a story opens up with death and a breakup, you know it’s going to be heavy. Couple that with the fact that my favorite author, an author who frequently puts her characters through the ringer recommended this book, you know not to expect rainbows and butterflies.
The story is told through alternating perspectives of Rachel and Henry. Rachel has recently lost her brother, failed Year 12 (not set in the United States) and is dreadfully headed back to her hometown to live with her aunt. She hasn’t been back in three years and hasn’t spoken to her old friends in months. Henry, her former best friend and former secret crush, believes her to have blown him off for no reason, when in actuality, she hasn’t been able to cope with her brother’s death and has shut everyone out.
Henry’s story begins with the end of another, his first love breaking up with him. He is hoping to win her back whilst simultaneously trying to rekindle friendship with Rachel.
WHAT I LIKED
I just felt so right when I read this book. I don’t mean necessarily the plot, but the writing just made my brain feel good. You know that feeling when you’re really into a book and you think, “Why am I not always reading?” That’s what WIDB was for me. No hint of headache, no caffeine-deficiency, just pure love of reading.
Henry’s family lives IN a used bookstore. That’s the actual dream. The store has all of these regulars with little side stories that make you care about them, there’s a garden for reading outside, a bakery next store that sells coffee, and Henry’s entire family works in the store. The best part is their Letter Library. They have an entire section in their store for books that you cannot checkout. Instead, you can write notes in the margins, highlight or underline your favorite lines and even leave notes between the pages for others to find. The communication between major characters via Letter Library are shown throughout the book.
Henry’s parents and Rachel’s mom are actually somewhat present, which is rare in a YA novel. Their stories are heartbreaking and important.
Rachel’s Aunt Rose is my spirit animal. She lives in an apartment with no walls, travels the world when she wants, rarely stocks her groceries and swears like a sailor. I love her.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
I really didn’t dislike anything about this book.
I notice so many YA books have a female character who’s in a band. Just an observation. It seems to happen so much more frequently than in real life.
I haven’t included this section in my previous posts, but I loved the writing in this book and wanted to share some:
“I explain the plan to her, which is basically to wait, horizontally, for life to improve.”
“The broken heart. You think you will die, but you just keep living, day after day after terrible day.” – Great Expectations reference
“The traces of them are hidden, small lines in books. In a library from which no one can borrow.” – On the Letter Library
“”Sometimes science isn’t enough. Sometimes you need the poets,” he says, and it’s in this moment, this exact moment, that I fall in love with him again.”
“…and before you say it words do matter. They’re not pointless. If they were pointless then they couldn’t start revolutions and they wouldn’t change history and they wouldn’t be the things that you think about every night before you go to sleep. If they were just words we wouldn’t listen to songs, we wouldn’t beg to be read to when we’re kids. If they were just words, then they’d have no meaning and stories wouldn’t have been around since before humans could write. We wouldn’t have learned to write. If they were just words then people wouldn’t fall in love because of them, feel bad because of them, ache because of them, stop aching because of them.”
“We lose things, but sometimes they come back. Life doesn’t always happen in the order you want.”
“We are the books we read and the things we love.”