Letters To Nowhere by Julie CrossPublished by Julie Cross on August 2nd 2013
ARC from Author
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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.
Letters To Nowhere is the most glorious YA Contemporary Sports Romance I’ve ever read. “Why oh why, do you say so,” you ask? Don’t worry, I’ll get there soon.
First off, what would you do if your parents died in a car accident? Wouldn’t you want some time away from real life? Karen Campbell, however, jumps right back in to her usual gymnastics routine. She also moves in to the home of her gym coach, who has kindly offered Karen to live in his house so she could continue with training.
Gymnastics was a huge part of Karen’s life and Julie Cross has done exceptionally well in writing about it. To be honest, I know nothing about gymnastics except that it entailed splits, flips and arabesques. (Okay, I may not know how an arabesque is done but at least I know how to spell it.) Having read about it in this book, I feel like I know so much more now. Cross’s portrayal of the life of elite gymnasts was vividly detailed. She perceptively elaborated about the intense practices that were involved and also how procedures in the competitions go. All these were unfamiliar territory but it was really great to have learned more about the sport.
Karen doesn’t know anyone outside of her gym but it was fun reading about her relationship with her team mates and coaches. Karen had a sisterly bond with Blair, Stevie and Ellen that was adorable. But as most sibling relationships go, there’s always some occasion where competition rises- which is acceptable for them since they’re gymnasts who are constantly trying to outdo each other. Stacey, the assistant coach was a hardass but she did a great job getting the girls to focus. Coach Bentley, the head coach and the one who’s house Karen had moved in to, was hard to understand at first. Even Karen was confused with what Bentley’s intentions were. As I read the story, Bentley became one of my favorite characters. He was a fantastic coach and he really helped Karen’s character grow more.
Grief was a crucial issue discussed in the book. Despite continuing gymnastics, a part of Karen was unable to move forward because of her loss. Haunted by nightmares, she was restless. Wanting to ease out of that restlessness, Karen began writing letters to her parents and the people surrounding her. She kept these letters to herself, but in it, I found her character sincere and immensely relatable. I loved how reflective Karen’s letters were. She pondered on so many things and her worries were relevant and real. Her thoughts and emotions were beautifully put- my heart completely ached.
“Are you so sad you can hardly breathe? Are you so sad you want to stop breathing?”
“I missed them both so much right now I thought my heart would break into a million pieces even before my head split open.”
I’ve saved the best part for last- sweet, innocent, amazing romance. Living in Coach Bentley’s house, Karen was forced to coexist with his son, Jordan Bentley. Oh my goodness, Jordan Bentley. Be still, my heart. Jordan, in Karen’s words is the “most perfect boy in the world.” I’d claim exaggeration but I completely agree with her. I love love love Jordan. Cross did such a fantastic job creating this male lead. Don’t get me wrong- Jordan is flawed, he has his own demons and anxieties. But what’s so great about Jordan is that he is so reliable and honest. He truly cared for Karen- there is no denying that. He said the sweetest words, but you could tell they came from the heart.
Jordan and Karen’s relationship- let’s just call it Jaren- won’t fail to make you fall in love. It took time to build, starting first from a friendship. The two were adorable, with their cute banter, and it was an easy decision to root for them to be together. Compared to other YA romances, Jaren did not come from a sudden, out-of-the-blue attraction but from a true connection. They shared the same grief but this wasn’t at all the base of their relationship. The love they had rooted from their concern for each other’s welfare and the fact that they enjoyed each other’s companionship. (Okay, I’m getting really cheesy but hey, I’m only stating truths.) Writers of insta-love romances, do take a lesson on how to write love stories from Julie Cross please.
So there. I’ve managed to pour all my heart in this review. I just really loved this book! It’s rare to find a self-published book that I truly enjoyed. This was the first book I’ve read by this author and it won’t be the last. I’m still hoping for a book two for this one. (Need more Jaren!) Overall, if you’re looking for one helluva romance, you really should read Letters To Nowhere.