Rachel Sweetie has reached what feels like a dead end. Her brother drowned, and she is struggling to face life without him. She has failed Grade 12, and her prospects are bleak. Her grandmother has organised for her to move back to her home town to live with her aunt, who has found her a job. Unfortunately the job is at Howling Books, a book store owned by the family of Henry Jones, who Rachel was in love with prior to moving away, and who Rachel now needs to add to the list of her things to deal with in the midst of her grief.
Oh my goodness, this book is wonderful! I received it from Netgalley, but also received a copy through the YA Chronicles subscription box. I was putting off reading it due to the subtitle “a love story”. When I think of love stories, I always think of things like Twilight and A Fault in our Stars, which are totally not my bag. The funny thing is that this is indeed a love story, but it isn’t the superficial boy meets girl love story you usually find in YA. Words in Deep Blue encompasses many types of love – romantic, friendship, family, the love of a place, the love of words and the way grief affects all of these. And how books help.
The story is told my Rachel and Henry in alternating chapters. A goodly portion takes place in the Howling Books bookstore, owned by Henry’s family. Henry’s parents are divorced, and his father Michael clings to the store which is running at a loss. Henry’s mother wants to sell the store, but Henry and his younger sister George aren’t sure.
One of the most wonderful things about the bookstore is the Letter Library – a section of books where customers can read books, underline their favourite passages and leave letters for strangers … or for people they know. These letters make their way into the text of the book which adds a very pleasing ( and heartbreaking!) dimension to the story.
As you might also expect from a book set mostly in a bookshop, it’s also all about books. There are lots of titles and references, both old and new. If you are an enthusiastic reader (which I assume you are if you are reading a book blog) you will love this about the book.
George is my favourite character without doubt. Still at school she actively feels her difference to the other kids (who call her a freak). She loves the bookstore and escapes through reading. She is a bit goth and wonderfully sassy.
Words in Deep Blue is a wonderful read. You may need some tissues though.
5 out of 5 literary references.