My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thank you, Penguin Random House, for sending me a finished copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Henry, if the love of your life is kissing a moron, it’s probably time to reassess whether or not she’s the love of your life.
As someone who devours literature on a daily basis, I always enjoy reading books that feature similarly bookish people. My reading experience becomes more meaningful and memorable whenever I am able to fully connect with characters, as fictional as they are.
Following this train of thought, Words in Deep Blue is a perfect summer read for us lovers of the written word. It follows two booknerds, Rachel and Henry, who live in this rabbit-and-kangaroo-infested place called Australia (not America, for a change). Rachel and Henry have been best friends since they were children, and Rachel eventually decides to confess her feelings by leaving a love letter in his favorite book. Unfortunately, certain circumstances prevent Henry from reading it and cause Rachel to move to another city. Years later, Rachel and Henry work together in his family’s bookshop, but everything between them has changed for the worse. You can probably guess what happens next.
Unsurprisingly, Words in Deep Blue was character-driven. Since I’ve already read tons of contemporary books, I could see the ending from a mile away. Plus, some of the chapters were uneventful although they shed much light on Rachel and Henry’s personalities. Although the plot was indeed predictable, I really enjoyed how this book tackled relevant themes such as grief, forgiveness, and true love. This wonderful aspect of the book more than compensated for its lack of spontaneity.
Among all of the characters, Rachel was the one who touched my heart. I was so sad for her loss, and I understood the numbness or emptiness she felt because of her brother’s death (this is not a spoiler). If I lost either of my brothers, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself besides moping and looking up. Honestly, familial loss in books never fails to tug at my heartstrings.
Reading Cal’s letters to his crush was both enjoyable and saddening. He was a devoted bookworm like the other characters, and he could have lived such a fruitful life if he hadn’t drowned in the stupid ocean (this only deepened my hatred for swimming). In other words, it was painful to think about the happy ending that he could’ve had. Wishful thinking can be so pleasurable, but it sucks when you realize that it’s futile. Cal’s death was already established from the very beginning. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but stubbornly wish for a shocking plot twist.
Henry was actually my least favorite character. I liked his fondness for poetry and other philosophical literature, but I wasn’t a fan of how he pined for a girl who obviously “loved” him only when it was convenient. I cringed every time he tried to convince Amy to come back to him because it made him look so pathetic, if not hopelessly blinded by puppy love. His redeeming qualities were his sensitivity and optimism. If it weren’t for him, Rachel would have spent a longer time in the cage of depression. Basically, Henry was the type of person who always had a shoulder to cry on.
The side characters in this book were surprisingly well-developed. I didn’t feel that they were just created to function as plot devices. For example, George and Martin had their own unique personalities, and the letters they sent to each other increased the depth and humor of the story. This made me appreciate the book more because it showed how the author was very intentional in her writing.
After all the paragraphs I’ve written in this review, the bottom line is that Words in Deep Blue is a worthy addition to your TBR shelf, especially if you love contemporary novels that are character-driven and emotionally heavy. It doesn’t have the most unique plot, but the book as a whole is something to reflect on.