13th April, 2020

Review: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley (Alfred Knopf)

It is simple: This book was plain beautiful.....

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.

On the surface level this book seems to be about Henry and Rachel and how they are trying to reconcile after spending years apart, but truly it was a lot more than only that. Words in Deep Blue is a book about love and grief, life and death, and the wonderful and magical power of words - especially those of the people we've lost.

The main characters are wonderfully drawn: They are relatable and you immediately find yourself rooting for them. I liked the switching back and forth between Rachel's and Henry's point of view and even though some resulting repetitions may have been unnecessary, this choice of narration helps to see the motifs between both teenagers' behaviour. The rest of the cast then is convincingly connected through the Jones' family business. One thing I really enjoyed was that the romance doesn't eclipse the rest of what is happening. It is there and it is central, but it is so skilfully thrown in with the rest of the plot that it doesn't become the only prominent layer of the story. And that is great because this book has so much more to tell than the tale of two star-crossed lovers.

I can say that every single element of this book perfectly adds to the overall theme. And I simply loved the setting. Most of the story takes place in a small secondhand bookshop located somewhere in a mid-sized Australian city. It is almost ridiculously easy to imagine yourself at Howling Books. The shop is definitely the kind of place I would love to visit and get lost in, especially the Letter Library  where people are allowed to write in the margins of the books they love or where they can leave anonymous letters to other readers between the pages. In truth, this was the best idea of the entire story because it was heartwarming and brought everything and everyone together. 

If you are looking for an enchanting read with all the feels, Crowley's novel may just be the right book for you. 

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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