RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Letters to Nowhere by Julie Cross


Title: Letters to Nowhere
Author: Julie Cross
Publication Info: Long Walk Press August 2013
ISBN: 978-1492935285
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Letters to Nowhere This RITA® Reader Challenge 2014 review was written by Amanda K. Byrne. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Contemporary Romance category.

The summary:

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.

And here is Amanda's review:

I love gymnastics. It’s my favorite event of the Olympics. Those athletes have to be fearless to contort their bodies and launch themselves into the air like that, knowing one minute slip could lead to a career-ending injury.

Karen Thompson has never been all that fearless when it comes to her routines. She’s good, but she’s known throughout the sport as the one with the “safe, clean routines.” After losing both parents in a car accident, her anger over their deaths helps her uncover her daring side, and she starts learning new tricks, upping the complexity of her routines.

And she starts learning how to flirt.

Taken in by her coach, she’s forced into close proximity with his teenage son, Jordan, and it’s hard for her not to drool over him all the time. The attraction is mutual, and soon they’re sneaking around. But Karen’s still got a lot of questions, and the biggest one is, What now?

The way Cross handles Karen’s grief made me teary-eyed a few times. She composes letters to everyone, sometimes in her head, sometimes in a notebook, saying all the things she wished she had the courage to say. Her parents supported her choice to stick with gymnastics long past the point most children outgrow it, and that they wouldn’t be there to see her complete her layout Jaeger or stick her Amanar is kind of heartbreaking. She doesn’t have the option of texting her mom anymore after a meet, telling her how she did.

Despite her social awkwardness, Karen comes across as pretty mature. She takes responsibility for most of her actions and encourages her teammates to do the same. Leery of what will happen if her coach finds out she’s dating his son, she insists on no kissing in the house. She knows what her body can do, and she takes care of it (unlike some of her teammates).

Jordan…Jordan was a little too perfect. He had his dickish moments in the beginning, but as the story progressed, he became a sweet, caring, and understanding guy. Yeah, he’d dealt with something similar, but I would have liked him better if he’d leaned a little more toward a typical teenage boy. The best thing about him was he didn’t treat Karen like she was fragile. Her parents are dead. It’s a fact. Around him, she gets to be a normal teenager, going to parties and the movies, learning how to kiss.

Unfortunately, the romance doesn’t seem to be the central thread of the story. A lot of the focus is on Karen, her training, and her drive to understand what happened to her parents. It’s more a story of coping with loss than a romance, and honestly, if there’d been more of a shift to include more romance, it would have downplayed the seriousness of what else she was dealing with. Karen’s grief had to be the top priority, not falling in love.

Even with its faults, Letters to Nowhere is a fantastic story. Well-paced, funny in all the right places, and thoughtful, Karen isn’t magically healed by her relationship with Jordan. For that alone, it gets my recommendation as a must-read.

This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Olivia'sMomReads says:

    Wait…I’ve heard of this book. Isn’t it a YA?

  2. 2
    Amanda says:

    It is YA! But it’s nominated for the Contemporary Romance RITA this year. I’m not really sure how the categories work for the RITA awards. I know they changed it up this year, but maybe Sarah can speak more to that than I can.

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