By Tall Poppy Susan Bishop Crispell
If you’re reading this, that probably means you’re a fan of books, and by extension bookstores. And the bookstore in Cath Crowley’s moving young adult novel Words in Deep Blue is one I would kill* to live in if it was real. Howling Books has an entire section dedication to books with notes, letters, and doodles in them. What’s even better, the Jones family, who owns the shop and lives in the apartment upstairs, encourages patrons to add to the letter library. Sounds like the perfect backdrop for romantic drama, am I right?
That’s exactly what we get when Rachel Sweetie comes back to town, grieving the death of her beloved younger brother, only to be reunited with Henry Jones, the boy who had been her best friend—and unrequited crush—years before. Rachel confessed her feelings for Henry in a letter left in his favorite book of poetry before she moved away. And when he never responded, she moved on with her life without him. Now that she’s back in Henry’s life and working at the bookstore alongside him, it’s impossible not to wish things were different. That she and Henry had never stopped being friends. That Cal hadn’t died so tragically and so young. That she knew how to move on with her life when some days it takes all she has to just to keep breathing.
But when the Jones family implodes and the future of Howling Books is suddenly—and heartbreakingly—uncertain, Rachel must face losing the letter library that is sustaining through the small pieces of her brother held within one of the book’s pages, and Henry must face losing the one girl who means more to him than all the books in the world.
This quiet story of grief, forgiveness, and love will stay with you long after the last page.
(*kill might be a strong word, so maybe just ask nicely?)
Susan Bishop Crispell earned a BFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Born and raised in the mountains of Tennessee, she now lives twenty minutes from the beach in North Carolina with her husband and their literary-named cat. She is very fond of pie and is always on the lookout for hints of magic in the real world. She is the author of THE SECRET INGREDIENT OF WISHES (2016) and DREAMING IN CHOCOLATE (2018).