TBR Review: Letters to Nowhere by Julie Cross

April 16, 2014 2014, A-, book rating, Reading Challenges, reviews, TBR Pile 10

This is my TBR review for the month of April hosted by Wendy @ The Misadventures of Super Librarian. The review for this challenge is posted on the third Wednesday each month.

letters-to-nowhereLetters to Nowhere
by Julie Cross
Series: Letters to Nowhere, Book 1
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Published by Long Walk Press, 2013
E-book, Purchased
288 pages
Grade: A-
Synopsis: 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.

She looked young and trendy…. Her smile was warm and inviting, like she wanted to be my best friend or sorority sister or something. And I began to immediately doubt that we’d get anything remotely therapeutic accomplished….

“Dr. Carson, right?”

“Technically, yes.” She sat behind the desk and pointed to a large armchair for me to occupy. “But you can call me Jackie.”

Okay, I totally called this one. Jackie and Karen: best friends for life.

and

Grandma,

Do you miss Mom as much as I do? Can we just talk about it instead of reading books? We spent thirty minutes on the phone today and I didn’t ask any of the questions I really wanted to ask you. Are you so sad you can hardly breathe? Are you so sad you want to stop breathing? Sometimes I feel like that, but I can’t tell you because I’ve accepted it and I’m adjusting well.

What worked for me:

  • This is a touching story. I wasn’t sure I wanted to read a sad story about a teenager whose parents die suddenly. However, Karen is such a good character. Her emotions seem so honest. Her letters to her parents and others reveal how she feels…and yes, she’s very sad. but she’s still a teenage girl and she’s still alive and she perseveres.tara-lipinsky-johnny-weir
  • I’m fascinated about the world of elite gymnastics. I know nothing about gymnastics. (Other than watching the Olympics and struggling to do anything other than a somersault in my P.E. class in high school much to my classmates’ amusement!) What Julie Cross writes about elite gymnastics seems true.
    • On a side note–Olympic gymnastics and figure skating have always seemed very similar so when I read this book so soon after the Sochi Winter Olympics I immediately thought of the figure skating–and especially the commentary of Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir during the figure skating competitions. (Actually now I think about it I’m not sure why I think of them. I guess because I enjoyed watching and listening to their commentary so much?!!)
  • Karen, Jordan, Coach Bentley, Nina Jones (the USA gymnastics coordinator), Karen’s teammates, Jordan’s friends all seem like real people to me.
  • The friendships which go along with the rivalries on her gymnastic team.
  • Karen’s honesty talking about her feelings.
  • I quickly read this book. It’s very absorbing.
  • The friendship along with the romance are wonderful.
  • Karen is very mature. She almost seems too mature for 17 years. This bothered me for a while, but then I thought maybe this isn’t unrealistic. She’s an elite gymnast who competes at the top-level, she has to listen to often harsh criticism about her skills, she’s been injured and had to sit out for a season and now her parents have died. I guess it’s unrealistic she’s mature.

What didn’t work:

  • When I read Karen was going to live with Coach Bentley. He’s a widower with a teenage son so I’m surprised her grandmother and the attorneys had no problem with her living with them. With all the worries about sexual abuse these days I think there would have been more scrutiny.

 My thoughts:

I first heard about this book when Li from the Me and My Books blog named Letters to Nowhere one of her top books of 2013. I don’t usually read YA contemporary books. If I do read YA it’s fantasy or science fiction, but I’m glad I decided to read this.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

As well the TBR reading challenge hosted by Wendy I’m also participating in the following reading challenges for this book:

10 Responses to “TBR Review: Letters to Nowhere by Julie Cross”

  1. nath

    So glad you enjoyed this book, Jan! It was one of my favorite read of 2013 🙂 Ms Cross just captured Karen’s emotions and world so well. I was really interested in the elite Gymnastics world too!

    As for what didn’t work for you, when I read the synopsis, I thought that was the direction the story would take as well. So glad it wasn’t! However, it makes me realize, are we not a bit too cynical about the world? Can’t people do anything nice/good without us thinking bad about it? Because that’s sad.
    nath recently posted…TBR Challenge 2014: Sea Glass Winter by JoAnn RossMy Profile

  2. Jan

    Thanks, Nath. I should have given a shout-out to you as well as Li. I knew Li had talked about it, but I forgot you talked about it, too.

    And I agree it is sad I immediately thought that might be the direction of this book. I know people do things because they want to help someone–but we hear so much else I immediately wondered about the coach’s motives. That’s depressing. 🙁
    Jan recently posted…TBR Review: Letters to Nowhere by Julie CrossMy Profile

  3. Li

    I’m glad this book worked for you! She got a RITA nomination for this, which both surprised and impressed me 🙂 Surprised because (a) it was self-pubbed and (b) they dropped the YA category, so this finalled in the main Contemporary Romance category against the more traditional contemps – and not because I didn’t think it deserved it, in case that wasn’t clear…

    I think you may have made the link to Lipinksi/Weir’s commentary because both are former figure skaters and therefore know their sport really well, similar to Julie Cross and gymnastics? We didn’t get their commentary here in the UK, but I’ve heard so much about how good they were, and am really jealous.

    Agree with you and Nath re the immediate though re Coach Bentley offering Karen a home – it is depressing that it is the default thought!
    Li recently posted…Graham Edwards’ TALUS AND THE FROZEN KINGMy Profile

  4. Michelle

    I have recently read and enjoyed my first julie cross book. I like that this one is about elite gymnastics. It seems interesting and honestly it seems like kind of a raw book that I have really been enjoying lately.

    Great review.

    Michelle @ Book Briefs
    Michelle recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (7)My Profile

  5. Lark

    I admit, I wondered about that too — though I didn’t immediately assume the worst, I did think, “she’s got a grandparent but the authorities let her go live with her coach?” The book does sound good, and you’ve given it a thoughtful and well-written review. I’m not sure I’ve got the emotional energy for this one right now, given that I’ve promised to read The Fault in Our Stars. But I’m putting this on my “someday” list.
    Lark recently posted…Early review: Guidebook to Murder, by Lynn CahoonMy Profile

    • Jan

      Sorry it’s taken so long to answer this and thanks, Lark. I had a twitter exchange with Julie Cross about the comments after I posted my review. It was lots of fun since I don’t talk to authors much! She said she was so invested in these characters that even though she knew it could look bad to the parents and others she had to write the book. I’m really glad she did write the book because even though it deals with heavy issues–death of parents–the book isn’t characters wallowing in grief. It’s a very hopeful book.

      I wasn’t sure about reading this book since I’m still sad about my parents dying, but I’m so glad I did. It was good for me to read!
      Jan recently posted…Review: Honor’s Knight by Rachel BachMy Profile