Words in Deep Blue was originally published in Australia in 2016. It was re-released and published to the US in June 2017.
Rachel and Henry were the best of friends until Rachel is forced to move away. The night before she moves, Rachel tucks a letter declaring her love for Henry and places it in the Letter Library, a special section in the bookstore Henry’s family owns. However, Henry never mentions the letter or its contents to Rachel leading to the slow dissolution of their friendship. Jump forward several years and Rachel is moving back to town to get away from the loss of brother, Cal, who drowned several months before. At the behest of her worried family, Rachel ends up taking a job at Henry’s family bookstore. The two end up working side by side, in awkward and mostly tense exchanges towards the possibility of second chances.
Despite this being a YA contemporary romance, I didn’t care for the romance in this book. I liked the book enough to give it 3 stars, but it wasn’t because of the relationship between Rachel and Henry. It just didn’t feel real on both sides. Rachel was in love with Henry for years, but she managed to move on. She dated someone else, she loved that individual, she moved on from Henry. So, its hard for me to believe it was so easy to fall back into love with Henry.
On the flip side, Henry never really loved Rachel beyond that of a best friend. Throughout 90 percent of the book, Henry is devastatingly in love with Amy and has been for years. Despite her poor treatment of him, he always welcomes her back with open arms. In fact, at one point literally right after kissing Rachel, Amy waltz’s into his life and suddenly Henry’s like, “Rachel who?” As a side note, Henry is also just an annoying character, he irritates me beyond belief. When switching to his perspective, its supposed to make me feel for him, but I was just more vexed.
So, with these things in mind, there sudden, magical pairing was hard to swallow at the end of the book. I think the author, Cath Crowley, was trying to accomplish too much in too little space; if she had extended the book and spent more time on the pair, there get-together would have been more believable. It seemed that Crowley, depended heavily on the past interactions of the two, something the reader never sees, so it didn’t help the believability of a romantic relationship. I could have believed a return to best friendship, but not romance.
The reason I rated this book as high as I did, was because of the grief Rachel experiences in this book. Or more realistically, the way grief is experienced by a few characters in the story. Oftentimes when I read about grief or loss I can tell if the author has actually experienced it; sometimes they get really flowery in the description of what its like to lose someone you are close to and it feels fake. This isn’t to say that some people can’t feel that way about death, but that isn’t how I experienced it. So, when I read books that describe grief in that way, I struggle to connect.
I would advise, that for people who haven’t experienced loss the way Rachel has that it may be hard to connect with her decisions particularly in the beginning. Why she chooses to stay silent about her suffering may seem ridiculous, but I promise it makes sense.
Another positive for me, was I loved the parallel storyline that occurred in the Letter Library with Henry’s sister, George. Though I didn’t like her character as I found she had the same irritating qualities as her older brother, the letter exchanges showed the best part of her character. Though it made her seem less obnoxious, it didn’t totally redeem her. Nevertheless, I liked reading the letters between George and her mysterious admirer.
Overall, I would recommend this book to read. Would I reread it? No, but I don’t regret reading it in the first place. I rated it 3/5 stars.