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Letters To Nowhere (2013)

Letters to Nowhere (2013)
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4.04 of 5 Votes: 3
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English
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Long Walk Press
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Letters To Nowhere (2013)
Letters To Nowhere (2013)

About book: I discovered Julie Cross when I reviewed Whatever Life Throws At You. I was so taken by her voice, the story, and the characters that I rushed out and picked up Letters to Nowhere. Sometimes it's a gamble to go back and read an older book by an author you love. This isn't one of those cases. I loved everything about Letters to Nowhere. Seventeen-year-old Karen Campbell is a spitfire at under five feet and a gymnastic dynamo. When her parents are killed in a car accident, she's left an orphan, struggling to understand how she's supposed to go on. Forced to choose between a promising gymnastics career and family, her coach steps in and offers to be her guardian in place of her grandmother, allowing her to continue her training. Gymnastics is the only thing Karen understands and takes him up on the offer.Things get interesting when she meets her coach's seventeen-year-old son, Jordan. He gets her in a way no one ever has and she soon discovers why. With shared pain, they bond on a deeper level than either of them has ever known. When friendship turns into something more, things get complicated considering they live in the same house. And oh yeah, his dad is her coach. Karen struggles with how to cope with unimaginable loss, plans for her future, and how to help Jordan cope with his own pain.PlotThe plot is complex. The main plot is likely the relationship between Karen and Jordan, but there are strong subplots, including Karen's gymnastics career, her ability to cope with the loss of her parents, the mystery surrounding the accident, the secret Jordan's best friend Tony is hiding, and Jordan's relationship with is father. Julie Cross manages to weave all of these together seamlessly, creating a beautiful tapestry of emotion. Letters to Nowhere is definitely a page turner, with increasing tension and heartfelt moments that are worth the wait.World BuildingAs a former gymnast, Julie Cross creates an authentic world filled with juniors, worlds, elites, olympics, bars, vaults, floors, and more. I don't know much (anything) about this world and yet I was so immersed in it, I could easily understand Karen's drive, her fears, doubts, and goals.CharactersAll the characters are strong. Karen is deep, troubled, sympathetic, and exceedingly believable. Watching her process her grief and anger over her parents' deaths is sometimes difficult. I love that it wasn't an easy transition for her, that the author didn't have her move on too quickly and make the dead parents just a plot vehicle for the romance. It's more like the romance is there to help drive the grief plot. Everything Karen does is laced with thoughts of her parents. I love that she writes letters, sometimes only in her head, that she never intends to send. She writes letters to Jordan, her parents, and her coach, giving us a glimpse inside her head and allowing us to connect with her on a very deep level.Jordan is equally fascinating, yet we only see him through Karen's eyes. He's sweet, loyal, a total daredevil, and he's deeply wounded himself. Karen recognizes his pain for what it is and tries to help him through it.The rest of the cast from Coach Bentley to the other gymnasts, and even Jordan's best friend Tony, are well-rounded and support deeper plotting and characterization with their presence.Bottom LineLetters to Nowhere is a compelling young adult story that is as uplifting as it is tragic. Karen deals with loss, triumph, and first love, with equal parts grit and humor. 4.5 stars.In the past I wasn’t an audio fan. But Ready Player One changed my mind on that. And the audio version of Letters to Nowhere confirmed to me that as long as I like the narrator then audio works perfectly for me. A huge thumbs up for this book and in particular the audio version. I have a rule that I only listen to audio when I exercise but this book was far too good to be restricted like that and I was constantly sneaking in listening sessions whenever I had free time.First Line of Letters to Nowhere:“Jan 18 : Mom and Dad, we are meeting with a lawyer today.“My Thoughts on Letters to NowhereThe narrator (Erin Spencer) has a perfect voice for Karen; she sounded young and her tone was really pleasant to listen to. I loved how she caught the emotions of elation, sadness and awkwardness, those butterfly-in-the-stomach feels of falling head first into your first relationship and the release of your inner flirt. This book has a range of feels in it and the narration did them justice. When doing Jordan’s voice, Erin deepened her voice slightly. Just a tiny difference but enough to make the conversations work really well.I enjoyed the characters and the setting of this book so much. Karen is such a strong character. She is disciplined, focused on her gymnastic career and has a lovely innocence about her. After the tragic death of her parents, she hides from her pain with gym goals that require a single minded focus.The setting for this book is one of my favourite things about the book. I know very little about the technical side of gymnastics but love watching during the Olympics. So the technical side of the book intrigued me and I think the author did a great job of slipping in explanations of the routines and various moves. And seeing how hard Karen is pushed by her coach and how hard she pushes herself leaves you in no doubt as to what an unforgiving, competitive world this is. Her coach’s son Jordan is another character that I can’t help but love. He knows what a battle Karen has on her hands to accept the death of her parents and he is full of practical support. Their relationship is so sweet and I love how they have awkward but fun conversations about sex, first times and lack of experience. It is just so believable and I don’t think this is an area covered often enough from this angle in YA books. Karen’s embarrassment initially when talking about the subject made me laugh and cringe and is very easy to relate to.Karen’s relationship with her teammates was fun too. They are like sisters and they don’t hesitate to be blunt when the occasion calls for it. Just like any good sister would. And I’m looking forward to seeing how this progresses in the future as they will be going head to head in competitions with the highest of stakes. I smell trouble!The letters that Karen writes form a huge part of the book too and this was another aspect that really worked. They do a great job of portraying all the emotions that Karen tries to suppress during the day.Overall this book has a great setting, believable main characters and a great support cast. It copes with a deeply emotional subject without becoming twee. And despite the heavy subject, it is also good fun at times (helped by the cutest of romances!).Who should read Letters To Nowhere?If you like contemporary YA novels then I can’t recommend this one enough to you. And if you have an interest in gymnastics (even if it’s only from the couch like me!), then this is a must read. Or if you want a sweet romance with two very cute main characters; then give this one a go. And again I want to give a special shout out to the Audio version, it was excellent and I recommend this to you if you like audio.Thanks to Julie Cross for giving me an audio version of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
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Reviews
bobbie
Julie Cross has done it again! Can't wait to read the rest of the series!!
gen
Review will be posted on the blog on April 10th! amidsummernightsread.com
BGulett0007
This is how I rate it: eh. I know. I'm a chatter head lol.
jgarcia2012
*actual rating 4.5 stars Loved this! Review coming soon.
shan
I LOVED this book. Review to come!4.5 stars
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