This is, pure and simple, ‘a love story’ (yep it says so right on the front cover). YA Romance authors pay attention, your writing masterclass is now in session. Rachel is grieving. After 3 years living by the coast, and in the aftermath of her brother’s drowning, she returns to the city. It is a homecoming not without significant protests. After all, she has flunked year 12 and failed to get into university. More importantly it means facing up to her ‘best-friend’ Henry the guy she was in love with, and who rejected her in preference for red-haired Amy the day before she left. Seemingly, when the worlds of Henry and Rachel collide once more, Henry is in a world of pain. Amy (the girl who loves her reflection more than she does Henry), has dumped him (yet again). As Henry pines away for his lost-love, readers will certainly be cheering for Rachel and wondering how this couple will find their way into each other’s arms. Of course, and in true Crowley fashion, while Words in Deep Blue might be a love story, it is so much more. This is a celebration of words, literature and the power of both to bind us together through the human experiences of love and loss.
It goes without saying that, told through switching first person narration interspersed with letters, Words in Deep Blue is beautifully written. The final product is a rich tapestry, a powerful celebration of language and storytelling. While this is not something that I would explicitly use in the classroom, it is certainly something that I will promote and which will be deeply cherished by those wonderful and rare students who proudly refer to themselves as ‘book nerds’. Such readers will appreciate Crowley’s numerous references to literary works of note. In saying this, I personally found the multiple references to the likes of John Green a little amusing. Does Crowley even realise that she is firmly in this league? If anyone deserves to be in the ‘Letter Room’ it is she.
It is not all serious though. In fact in many ways this is a joyous book, immensely comedic in places. I mean, the notion of two guys being stripped down to nothing and gaffer-taped to a city street light should be horrifying. Instead Crowley has me laughing along with her central protagonist (who also seems to see light of the moment).
Evidence that great things really do come to those who wait can be found within the pages of this book.
Okay, so I read this as a digital galley. I’d have preferred a paper copy (feel free to send me one Pan Macmillan), since an e-version could never hope to do justice to this superlative piece of literature. Then again, beggars can’t be choosers, and this is Cath Crowley after all. It has been a while (has it really been 6 years since Graffiti Moon?) since Crowley blessed us with a story. I’m not complaining, Crowley is quite possibly a perfectionist and she can ferment (or marinate) her manuscripts for as long as she likes if this is the outcome.
Tanya Grech Welden