RHCB | More Sites
More Sites
Kids
Teens
Teachers
Librarians
Magic Tree House
Junie B. Jones
Seussville
Random House
Return Home

Three Stars for Words in Deep Blue

May 01, 2017

★ “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’s 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.” —School Library Journal, 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.” —Booklist, Starred Review

★ “Rachel’s best friend is the love of her life in this Australian import. By the end of high school Rachel realizes her fondness for Henry, her childhood buddy, has intensified. When she and her family moved to live on the coast, she left Henry a love note, but he didn’t respond to it. After her brother, Cal, drowns, Rachel’s grief is so profound that her heart goes into lockdown. Three years since she’s seen Henry, Rachel returns, telling no one about Cal’s death. The setting is Howling Books, owned and resided in by Henry’s family. It’s a neighborhood secondhand bookstore with a room called the Letter Library, where patrons underline passages and leave letters within books. By the time Rachel begins working at Howling Books she has forsaken her love of the sea, Henry has a girlfriend, and the bookstore is in peril. Shifting between Rachel’s and Henry’s voices with interspersed chapters of found missives, this is a story of longings hidden within the heart and revealed through the pages of books. Henry and Rachel, both white, are such honest, resonate characters that readers might want to join them for a cup of coffee, lingering over long conversations replete with silliness, accented by sadness, and blooming with ideas. This journey is original, wise, and essential, because as Henry points out, ‘Sometimes science isn’t enough. Sometimes you need the poets.’ This love story is an ode to words and life.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review