Another one I was lucky enough to snag from Hatchette Children’s on Netgalley (and another one I somehow managed to lose the review file and bought a finished paperback for).
I think this is a case of I liked the concept of this book, I loved the supporting characters, but I completely hated the main characters for most of the book. The book is an Australian based YA, telling the story of two main characters, Rachel and Henry.
Henry’s family own a popular second hand book stop, and have this wonderful thing called a Letter Library, a section of the bookshop stuffed with books that aren’t for sale, but where customers can put letters in the books where anyone can pick them and read them, and maybe write back. This was such a wonderful concept, there’s something about writing a letter where you can express yourself in words that you would never be able to say to someone’s face. Rachel and Henry were best friends, but Rachel has been crushing on Henry for years and never told him. When her family has to move, Rachel leaves a letter for Henry in his favourite book in the Letter Library telling him how she feels.
By this time Henry has a girlfriend, the beautiful Amy, who Rachel doesn’t really like much or get along with that brilliantly. Henry never finds the letter. Fast forward to school being over, Rachel is suffering from a family tragedy and struggling to cope, she hasn’t told any of her friends about what happened and is keeping everything bottled up inside. I found Rachel aloof, cold and rude. Yes, I get she’s going through something terrible and I could certainly empathise with her, but I really did not like her as a character at all. Her attitude grated on my nerves.
Rachel comes back to her former home town to move in with an aunt. She finds a job at Henry’s family’s bookshop. She hasn’t spoken to Henry since she left and he never found her letter. Henry meanwhile, is moping over a broken heart. His beloved girlfriend Amy has broken up with him, just weeks before they were scheduled to go on a round the world trip together. Henry can’t get over it, he can’t figure our or understand why Amy had ended the relationship.
Out of the two characters, Henry was marginally more likeable than Rachel. He was friendly and approachable, though he spent most of the novel pining over Amy and basically acting like a love sick moron. It got very annoying very quickly.
One thing I really loved about the novel was the supporting characters. Henry had a wonderful family, his mom and dad were active characters, as was his sister George. Rachel’s aunt was also wonderful. The two of them had the same friends, and some additional characters came in, and I loved them all. I just didn’t like Rachel and Henry (or Amy and her douchebag new boyfriend).
The more time they spend together the more Henry realises he might have feelings for Rachel, and Rachel finally finds herself dealing with some of the stuff she’s been going through and talking about it, and therefore finally able to get to a place where she can be comfortable with herself and move on.
It was well written, and very easy to picture what was going on. As I said, I just did not like the two main characters at all. There were some lovely emotional parts towards the end, but it wasn’t really enough to give this book a wow factor for me. It was just okay.