Summary: Years ago, Rachel had a crush on her best friend, Henry. Years ago, she left Henry a love letter in his favorite book in his family’s bookshop before she moved away. Years ago, she waited, but Henry never came. Years later, Rachel has returned to the city and to the bookshop with a heavy heart. She can’t feel anymore, not even that old spark for Henry, since her brother died in a drowning accident months ago. To top it all off, she’s failed Year 12 and just can’t see her future.
Henry can’t seem to see his future either. His on-and-off again girlfriend has officially called it quits. The bookshop isn’t doing well and neither is his family life. As Henry and Rachel work together in the bookshop, they try to find the hope and answers they’ve both been looking for.
My Rating: 4.75/ 5 Stars
Words in Deep Blue had been on my radar for a while, especially since I knew it mainly took place in a bookstore! Howling Books, Henry’s family bookshop, was one of the best settings ever! I adored how it created a community of people, like Frederick, who found comfort in the store, especially in the Letter Library. Other than that and the fact that so many of bloggers have been loving Cath Crowley’s latest contemporary read, I didn’t know much going in. Once I started reading, I couldn’t get enough. I ate up the first hundred pages while lying on the beach, and I couldn’t wait to get home to keep going! I was obsessed with how this book takes place in Australia! I haven’t read too many books (if any, at all) that take place in Australia, so it really cool to see how the setting played in the novel. As I read more books that take place in Australia and the UK, I have a better understanding of the school system. It was also different for me, as someone who’s lived in the US for her life, to see Rachel and Henry’s summer play out in January and February.
I’m often nervous about books that have a dual point-of-view, but Henry and Rachel worked out so well together. We see Henry, the hopeless romantic for Amy (even it was a bit annoying at times), the brother and son who wants to see Howling books thrive, the guy who just wants to find out why Rachel is finally back after all that time apart. We see Rachel, grieving over the loss of her brother, trying to move alongside life, avoiding the feelings for Henry that she once held. Each chapter alternates from their perspective, occasionally being separated with letters from the Letter Library. While Cath Crowley may go back in time in each perspective, she does so in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you’re experiencing the same scene two times. Additionally, having both Rachel and Henry’s POVs helped me get a better sense of how they were feeling about one another. I loved seeing them start to grow closer again after Rachel tells Henry about Cal, and you get to see some of their humorous banter right after:
“ “It really starts raining. “I forget. Do you stand under a pole in a lightning storm? Henry asks, moving faster up High Street.
“Sure, and it helps if you can find a puddle too,” I tell him.
“We don’t stand under a pole,” he says.
“We don’t stand under a pole,” I confirm.”(133)
Besides Henry and Rachel, I loved our cast of characters in Words in Deep Blue (except Amy and Gregg, of course). I loved Michael, who just wants Howling Books to live on, no matter what way, and while I was a bit mad at Sophia, she cares a lot about the shop as well. Lola was a great friend for both Rachel and Henry to have, and I feel like her own relationship problems translated well along Henry and Rachel’s. George was a character of her own, and I loved Martin for doing anything he could to get to George to at least see him as a friend.
One of my favorite aspects of Words in Deep Blue was how real it felt. We see Henry and his family talk about classic authors, such as Jane Austen and Jorge Borges, but Patrick Ness and John Green. Their family discussions of what they’ve been reading will make any book lover’s heart feel warm. Additionally, Words in Deep Blue felt real for its depiction of Rachel’s depression surrounding Cal’s death. You ache for her, as she tries to get life together and as she tries to tell people about her brother. Despite the heartache, you’re happy that she has someone like Henry, who shows her that he’ll always be there for her.
“Sometimes science isn’t enough. Sometimes you need the poets” (191).
Have you read Words in Deep Blue? Share in the comments!