Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on June 6th 2017
Genres: young adult, contemporary
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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.
I wanted to review this as soon as I finished it, but when a book causes such an emotional impact, it’s not always the smartest thing to review it right away. So I waited until the following day, and I’m sort of glad I did because my thoughts were all a jumble. I wanted to give this book five stars–it almost deserves five stars, but the ending felt a little off for me, and I DO think it’s fair for me to downrate a book because I don’t agree with the way the author ended the book. I wasn’t sure about this at first. I usually rate down for technical stuff, not feelings, and I felt unsatisfied with this book’s ending and a bit emotionally manipulated.
I friggin’ loved it though. So that’s why I was conflicted. I ugly cried for the last 25%. This book was very personal to me. I fell in love with the writing right away, because the prose just made me feel things. It twisted my heart and made me ache in ways a book hasn’t in a very long time. In a way that I didn’t think a book could anymore. I had gotten to the point where I felt I was so critical of books that I could no longer feel the emotions that the stories were meant to present.
That all changed with Words In Deep Blue. Simply put, it’s a book about relationships and how they break down, and how they can be built back up. It’s also about death and recovering from it and how hard it is. And then, it’s a book for book lovers. Most of the book takes place in a used bookshop. Words In Deep Blue is full of literary references, poetry, book titles, and all the sorts of things a book lover would swoon over. It’s also full of really beautiful turns of phrase, like:
“There should be a disconnect button you can push when someone leaves: you’ve fucked me over; therefore I no longer love you. I’m not asking for the button to be connected to an ejector seat that removes them from the universe, just one small button that removes them from your heart.”
I’m also not a huge fan of contemporary novels, but I will definitely read them if the blurb strikes my fancy. This one did, because I’m a book lover first and foremost. I like books that take place in libraries and bookstores, and I will always read them, even if they are contemporary. Contemporary romances are definitely not my thing. I just don’t love romance as a genre, not that I look down on it, it just isn’t the kind of story that interests me. For me to read it, there has to be another element, like suspense, or a mystery, or more to the plot. This novel also has a grief plot and the threat of the bookshop closing, and also, the idea of a missing letter and a friendship that broke down because of it. And funnily enough, I loved all of that, but the romance was excellent as well. The characters were flawed, real, and the way they came together really felt organic and perfect.
The only thing that irritated me a little was the ending, and I’m rating the book 4.5 stars here on the blog, and 5 on Goodreads because they don’t allow half stars. It was a tiny, niggling thing that messed with my head and I still don’t understand why the author ended it that way when I think it would have had the same emotional impact if she hadn’t. I’m putting this under a spoiler tag for those that want to know what I’m talking about, but you’ve been warned. View Spoiler » I don’t understand why the bookshop had to get sold to a developer. All the conflict would have still been there if it was saved at the very last minute. I think maybe the author tried to go the realistic route, and I respect that ending it this way was more true to life, I guess I just wasn’t expecting it and I felt a little emotionally manipulated which is totally on me, I know. « Hide Spoiler At any rate, this is still one of the best books I have read this year so far.