Thursday, 20 March 2014

Reviewed by Emily: Letters to Nowhere by Julie Cross.


Product details:
Publisher: Long Walk Press.
Release date: August 1st 2013.
Ebook, 288 pages.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ages: Mature YA
Source: Received for review.
Reviewed by:  Emily. 

From the International Bestselling Author of the Tempest Series...

Set in the tough world of Elite Gymnastics...

I've gotten used to the dead parents face. I've gotten used to living with my gymnastics coach. I've even adjusted to sharing a bathroom with his way-too-hot son. Dealing with boys is not something that's made it onto my list of experiences as of yet. But here I am, doing it. And something about Jordan--being around him, talking to him, thinking about him--makes me feel like I can finally breathe again. That's something I haven't been able to do lately. He knows what it feels like to be me right now. He knows what it's like to wonder--what now? I think about it constantly. I need answers. I need to know how to get through this. In the gym, if you're struggling, you train harder, you do drills and conditioning. How do I work hard at moving on? At being on my own? And what happens if I might be...maybe...probably falling for Jordan? I mean we live together now. That can't happen, can it? But kissing him...well, let's just say it's not an easy activity to forget.



Julie Cross has crafted a powerful story of grief and love that explores the many different ways people deal with loss. 

When we meet Karen Campbell, her world has just been turned upside down. Her parents have been killed in a car accident and she’s about to move in with her gymnastics coach and his teenage son, Jordan. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure if Karen’s grief was being portrayed authentically. I kept thinking, you just lost your parents, how can you even function? But it soon becomes clear that Karen isn’t really functioning. Yes, it’s true she was back in the gym the day after her parents’ funeral. But she sleeps in the closet to avoid the smell of home, she has horrific nightmares and debilitating panic attacks. She writes letters to her parents, begging to understand where they are now. 

Karen finds herself opening up to Jordan, who is also no stranger to loss. Readers who are tired of insta-love will be pleased to hear Karen and Jordan’s relationship develops slowly and realistically. Their chemistry and easy banter are my favourite things about this book. I love that they could talk to each other openly about everything from sex to death, as well as more light-hearted things. I think Cross has done a fine job of portraying a healthy, loving relationship. Even though they’re sure to come across bumps in the road, you can tell these two are the kind of couple that could end up married and living happily ever after. 

I also liked that Jordan is a character in his own right, not merely in the story to be Karen’s cute love interest (although he does sound very cute). In fact, almost all the characters in this novel are well-developed. Many of them have been affected in some way by the death of Karen’s parents and Cross shows there’s no right or wrong way to deal with grief.  

In addition to love and death, much of this novel revolves around elite level gymnastics. Julie Cross has been part of the competitive gymnastics world for fifteen years, and her experience definitely shows. But I have to admit my mind kept wandering during a lot of the gymnastics talk. Although the routines and politics of the sport were described very clearly, I found these scenes a bit boring. Fans of sports-orientated YA are sure to love this, though.  

There are two more books in the Letters to Nowhere series – Return to Sender and Return to You – but this story has a satisfying ending and could be read as a standalone. However, I think most readers – myself included – will want to read on to find out how things work out for Karen and Jordan
 

--Emily.

6 comments :

  1. I loved Make it or Break it - this sounds good!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

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  2. Well developed characters are the best. :) For me, characters are what I'm there for (like plot is a bonus, lol, okay I really like plot too! But characters first), so when they're awesome....ah, I love it. :)

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  3. Me too, Cait! I can forgive a less than awesome plot if there are great characters, but not so much the other way around.

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  4. I recently read a NA by Julie Cross and was highly impressed with it. It wasn't the average oversexed NA but a thoughtful and wonderful story. I'll have to give this one a try too! Great review! :)

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  5. I've never heard of this one before, but I've always been fascinated by the world of gymnastics. There's such a beautiful power to that sport…and adding it to a novel could be amazing. I must try this! Lovely review :)

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  6. I love the sound of the gymnastics setting however it also sounds very emotional and intense. I want to check this one out.

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