My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: June 6th, 2017
Publisher: Knopf BFYR
Point of View: 1st Person & Alternative
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Romance, Books about Books, Death
Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.
Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore.
As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.
The letters left in books as a way of communication were absolutely wonderful. The inclusion of book culture itself caught my interest very fast. Books about books rarely disappoint me.
But the romance did. Rachel loves Henry, her best friend, but Henry loves Amy. Rachel leaves. Three years later, after her brother’s death, she comes back and is forced to face Henry again. What if she falls for him once more? Meanwhile, Amy breaks up with Henry, but Henry wants her back desperately.
Henry is very, very desperate. If Amy had been a charming girl who wanted the best for him, I would have said, ‘‘yeah, okay, give it a shot, try to get her back since you love her so much.’’ But the author does not present her in a loveable way. She’s banal, until she’s annoying, until she’s despicable.
I wouldn’t say that there’s a love-triangle, because Amy said early in the story that she doesn’t love Henry, despite the fact that the latter is crazy about her. Still, there is a case of unrequited love, no secret there, and even of love-hate relationship. I loved the interactions between George and Martin, but Henry and Rachel left me mainly unmoved.
Rachel keeps Cal’s death secret for the most part of the book. I understand that she doesn’t want to bring up the subject, or even get into it, but it wasn’t right for her to lie either. Secrets never stay secret for long. It’s annoying for the reader, because he can clearly predict what will happen when the truth is discovered.
Howling Books is such an original setting. It’s a bookshop! I had no trouble imagining it in my head. The garden. The monthly book club. The letter corner. I wish such a place existed near my house. It’s a beautiful shop that brings people together and spreads the love of books.
I expected to like this more. It was fine… Three stars isn’t the worst case scenario, but it means the book is not worthy of a reread.
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