Book Review: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Sorry we didn’t post a review last week, I’ve been a bit under the weather. Wait. What does that even mean? Under the weather? Aren’t we always under the weather? Hm. A quick Google search reveals this:

The term is correctly ‘under the weather bow’ which is a gloomy prospect; the weather bow is the side upon which all the rotten weather is blowing.

Well. I’ve been under the weather bow and it has been unpleasant to say the least. My poor husband has certainly had his wedding vow tested over the past week! In sickness and in health, right?! And, to make matters worse, for some reason whenever I get sick, I can’t read. I just can’t stand the thought of skimming my eyes over the pages. It’s like a kind of vertigo. Does anyone else get like this?

The sky is looking brighter however, and I have to tell you about this fantastic book I just finished. It’s called Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley. Cath is an Aussie Young Adult author, particularly well known (to me at least) for her YA book Graffiti Moon, which came out a few years ago and received a whole host of accolades.

Words in Deep Blue is a love story (it even says so on the cover). But it certainly isn’t a traditional YA romance. It’s more of a love letter really. One long love letter to words and literature, to books, to family and friends. A loss letter too. The loss of a brother, the loss of a friendship, the loss of a place.

The story is told through Rachel and Henry, two late teens who grew up together before Rachel and her brother moved away. When Rachel’s brother dies, her outlook on life changes. She becomes afraid. Depressed. Sad. Distant. Everything she wasn’t. She returns to the city, to Howling Books – Henry’s family’s second hand bookshop – to try and piece her life together after she fails Year 12.

There’s a delicacy to this book that I didn’t expect and much of this is thanks to the Letter Library – a shelf of books in the bookstore which can be written in and where people leave letters to their loved ones. Entire conversations occur within the pages of these novels. It feels like a comment on the fragility of the online world and the permanence of print. I can see Letter Libraries popping up in second hand bookstores all around the world. I know I’m already wondering how we can incorporate one into the library.

This book really struck a chord with me. It’s lyrical and lovely, the words flowing across the page, the story coming to life so clearly. It’s full of whimsy and philosophy, full of little nods to great literature, all the while maintaining its modernity. It’s also an intelligent book, it doesn’t assume ignorance and naivety from the YA audience it seeks and I love that.

Perhaps Words In Deep Blue was exactly what I needed at this time. But perhaps it’s just a great read and I’d bank on that.

Amanda x

On the Golden Age of YA and Getting Your Mojo Back

Sometimes, when we hit a bit of a reading rut, we pick up a young adult book. Why? Well, you may or may not have heard we’re in a YA golden age. And we are. These books tend to be fresh, trend-setting reads that are equally suitable for adults. They often explore sensitive issues, even political concerns, through the frank lens of a modern-day teen. While there is usually romance, usually a little angst, they also offer a glimpse into the future, and what’s important to our younger generation. Even if you haven’t read any, you are probably familiar with the influx of young adult books that have strong female characters, lasting relationships and dystopian story lines that reflect a conscious concern for the future.

Both Jody and I have been in a little bit of a reading rut lately and we thought there might be some of you out there struggling with the same thing. So here are five YA books that have helped us get our mojo back in the past – do you have any you would add to the list?

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – a quirky, often hilarious and totally awkward read which is a little bit Harry Potter, a little bit John Green and a whole lot of Rainbow Rowell. Rowell wrote the bestsellers, Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, where we first met the protagonist of Carry On, Simon Snow. This odd, entertaining book was a delight to read.

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet on the ledge of the school bell tower, both contemplating a dramatic end to their lives. With this in common, they embark on an unlikely friendship. This book is a great one for fans of The Fault in Our Stars, although it’s quite different, and for adults with teenage children. It does well to outline some of the issues at the forefront of their minds today.

The Heart of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson – the second book in the Remnant Chronicles. One of Jody’s favourite young adult series, with a great story line and characters you can love and hate. She even bought the eBook first so she could have it sooner!

The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – Definitely one for fans of The Hunger Games series. This story is set in a world divided by blood-type, red or silver. The Reds are commoners, the Silver elite. What happens then, when Mare, a red-blooded commoner, discovers she has powers that should only belong to the Silver elite? While the story is predictable, the world is so interesting you’ll find yourself eager to pick up the second in the series!

Stay with Me by Maureen McCarthy – Maureen McCarthy has been a favourite of ours for a long time. The Australian born author wrote the much-loved Australian YA classic, Queen Cat, Carmel and St Jude Get a Life. Stay with Me is the fast-paced, dramatic story of Tess, who is running from a life of domestic violence with her young daughter. This intense book is definitely skewed to the older-teen age bracket but it packs a punch worthy of its accolades.

There are so many other great YA titles out there, so maybe next time you’re browsing for books, it might be worth taking a stroll past!

 Amanda & Jody