Once upon a time, Rachel and Henry were best friends. And Rachel wondered if it might be more than just friendship. In a moment of great bravery, just before she moves away, Rachel writes Henry a note about how she feels. She asks him to call when he gets it. He never mentions the note or her declaration.
Years later, Rachel returns. A lot has changed. She barely responded to Henry’s letters and emails while she was away. Even in the midst of personal tragedy, she didn’t reach out to him. Now, not only are they in the same town, but she’s working at his family’s bookstore. She’ll see him every day. How’s that going to work?
Henry’s thrilled to have his best friend back. But Rachel has changed. She’s angry and private. She won’t explain why she stopped talking to him. As his divorced parents discuss selling their home and the bookstore, though, Henry will need Rachel, his old best friend, who understands the value of the store and the memories they’ve made there.
Is it possible to both like and not like a book at the same time? While not a happy story per se, this is a beautiful look at grief and loss, friendship and love, and the value of words. The author does an excellent job of describing the losses experienced by the characters and their attempts to move forward in life and in their grief.
I liked the main characters, although I wanted to shake them at times. Henry’s infatuation with Amy was frustrating as Rachel’s assessment of her motives was always completely on target. And that assessment should have clued her into some things that happened in the story. Many of the characters felt stuck, repeating the same choices or feeling like they had no other choices. I liked characters like Martin and Cal who seemed healthy and optimistic about the future.
I struggle to describe this sort of book. I liked it in that it was well written and emotionally honest with characters I wanted to see succeed. At the same time, it’s emotionally heavy. I can’t say that I enjoyed the journey with these characters all the time. If you are looking for a happy-go-lucky sort of story, this is not what you are looking for. But if you want to read something that will hit you emotionally and make you think, give this a try. I would recommend this to older teens and young adults due to language and the emotional weight of the story.