Saturday, October 26

Buddy Review: Letters to Nowhere by Julie Cross

The groove has been elusive so far ^_^; However, we're trying :) Enjoy the review!


Letters to Nowhere by Julie Cross
self-published in August 2013
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.
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Contemporary
Series: Letters to Nowhere, Book #1


Ames:  Thank you so much Nath, for bring this book to my attention! I didn’t notice it mentioned anywhere in blogland. And then when I was looking for a book to read and asked you what was the last excellent book you read, you recommended this one and you were right. It was really good!

Nath: LOL, I’d love to take credit for it, but I got lucky as others recommended it to me :) So big thank you to Brie and Li!! Because Letters to Nowhere was really a good book!!

I think what I loved about it is the fact that it wasn’t stereotypical at all. When I first read the blurb and saw that Karen was going to live with her coach, immediately, I thought the worst scenarios possible. Bad coach or bad son… and it wasn’t like that at all. Aside from Karen’s parents’ deaths which is a common theme in New Adult/Young Adult books, Letters to Nowhere was just sooo refreshing!

Ames:  I agree. The whole parental death thing is so overdone, but despite that, Letters to Nowhere definitely stands out among other NA/YA books I’ve read lately.

One aspect I really enjoyed was the gymnastics. She’s an elite gymnast and has to train hours and hours a day. And I found it all interesting, it wasn’t tiring to read about at all. And the dynamic with her teammates and the coaches. I loved it.

Nath: I agree. The gymnastics aspect of the book was well-done and felt real. I think it helps that Ms Cross knew what she was writing about given her experience. I liked seeing the life of an elite athlete - how much of her life is dedicated to gymnastics and how much she had to give up. The fact that she took online classes instead of attending school which actually makes a lot of sense! The fact that her social life was almost non-existent… It is often said that young athletes are very mature… and it’s true. But at the same time, they are very immature, or I should say inexperienced, in some aspects because they are missing out on the regular evolution of growing up and Ms Cross showed it really well in Letters to Nowhere. In addition, I think Ms Cross captured the atmosphere of the gymnastics world very well. I loved seeing Karen’s relationships with her teammates - friends, but rivals at the same time... a fine balance between camaraderie and jealousy. Their interactions with the coaches and the competitions, dealing with the selection committees. This all contributed to make Letters to Nowhere very unique in my opinion :) 

Ames:  Exactly!! Ms. Cross did an excellent job of balancing the story with introducing the reader to an elite athletics world. And showing the maturity with the inexperience. Another thing was Karen’s parents. I like how that affected her in such a visceral way - she was having panic attacks, she couldn’t go back into her house. And how her parents were shown as not being perfect. Her reaction to that revelation made perfect sense to me. I feel like the angst from their deaths really moved the plot forward in a way that I haven’t felt with other YA books I’ve read.

Nath: I think part of it is because Karen had a good and normal relationship with her parents. There weren’t any dirty secrets, any guilt… Karen got along well with her parents even though they had some conflicts. What I loved about Karen’s parents were the fact that they did not push Karen in her gymnastics career, they weren’t obsessive about it. Overall, this was another good aspect of the book that the author handled very well. Even dead, her parents were present in the story :)

What did you think of Jordan and Coach Bentley?

Ames:  I liked the Coach and Jordan. I liked how they had their own problems, as father and son and dealing with a shared loss, that Karen helped them bridge a little bit by her presence and what she was going through. Jordan was the perfect person for Karen at that point in her life. And that made me like him a LOT. A lot a lot. LOL

Nath: At first, when I read the synopsis of the book, I was a bit hesitant. I immediately assumed the story would go in a bad direction, what with Karen going to live with her coach and his son. We’ve all heard about how tough the gymnastics world is and a lot of coaches are portrayed negatively in the media… However, I was so wrong and so happy to be wrong! Letters to Nowhere was a great read because the characters weren’t dark or bad… Instead they were normal and that includes Coach and Jordan   Yes, they had some personal issues, but that only made them more realistic.

I liked that both Coach and Jordan  understood what Karen was going through and wanted to help her. Ames, you say that Jordan  as the perfect person for Karen at this point in her life, but I think so was Coach. And I liked how Coach, Jordan and Karen were all looking for their footings in this new relationship :)

Ames:  I didn’t include Coach because I felt like there was something left unresolved between him and Karen. They did come a long way together and that feeling of unfinished business does not take away my enjoyment at all. I think I just wanted a wee bit more there.

This book, although very enjoyable, had some major emotional stuff going on and I thought that the author handled it very well. Karen went through a major trauma and I thought the author dealt with her grief in a realistic way. She didn’t heal instantaneously, she went through the whole process and it was good to read about that. Nothing was glossed over. I appreciated how down to earth this book was. And a major thing here was that life goes on. Karen lost her parents, but her life, especially gymnastics, went on and she had to learn to cope with that loss and the fact that she had to keep moving forward.

Nath: For sure, the relationship between Coach and Karen is not perfect. I think it’s the newness of it. They haven’t known each other long and suddenly, Coach Bentley is not only coach, but guardian and parent and so both are struggling to find the perfect balance to their weird relationship. Still, I want to see that relationship develop :)

Ames, you nailed it. 
What I appreciated most is that Ms Cross didn't go with the destructive road for Karen like so many other heroines. Instead, Karen dealt with everything - the tragedy, her grief and the aftermath - the best way she could, relying on the people around her when she could.  I liked that nothing was instantly resolved. I think the most interesting was seeing Karen deal with her future, take decisions that she knew her parents hadn't been 100% in favor for before their deaths… especially in her gymnastics career. Many other heroines would have continued on the path their parents would have wanted, because it was their “last” wishes. It took courage for Karen to make her own decisions and I really admired that about her. 

What did you think of the romance between Karen and Jordan   I thought it was sweet and can’t wait to read more about it!

Ames:  I like that Karen forged her own path too.

Ok, the romance. I loved it. Karen’s never had a boyfriend before and I like how at first she didn’t care for Jordan but then they got to know each other and things grew from there. Jordan was so great. He was very empathetic with Karen’s situation and he helped her so much. He was just so cute. I could go on and on about all the things I liked about him but I think readers should find out for themselves how cute he can be. :P

Nath: Me too, I loved the romance. It just simply worked and felt natural :) I liked how Karen didn’t just see Jordan  nd started crushing on him. They got to know each other and be friends. I think in the end, they were both there for each other and that’s the sign of a good relationship. Also, I liked that they are taking their time, that Karen doesn’t feel pressure to take the next step right away… and I liked their honesty to each other. Also, there was a lot more to Jordan than simply being a 17 years old boy and that was interesting :)

Letters to Nowhere was an excellent book :) In the sea of YA and NA books, it definitively stands out for the writing and the characters. I’m giving it an A- :) I loved it, but thought there was still some loose ends… I’m so glad that there’ll be a sequel soon!!

Ames:  I know! I’m excited for the sequel. :P I’m giving Letters to Nowhere a B+. A really enjoyable read and I totally agree that it stands out.

***

Because we enjoyed this book so much and want to support the author, we're doing something we haven't done in a long time, a....

GIVEAWAY!!

You have till next Saturday, November 2 11:59pm EST to leave a comment to be eligible for the giveaway. The lucky winner will get an electronic copy of Letters to Nowhere :) However, if you already own a copy of Letters to Nowhere, it'll be our pleasure to gift a copy of the sequel, Return to Sender!!

No comments: