Review: Letters to Nowhere

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Letters to NowhereLetters to Nowhere by Julie Cross
Series: Letters to Nowhere #1
Published by Author on August 1, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 351
Source: Author
Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

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.

Fun fact about me: sports are super not my thing. The only time I ever watch them is during the Olympics, because I can handle sports-watching about once every two years. Generally, I’m like “Oh, look, he kicked the ball. Clearly, that merits applause.” For all my lack of spirit about sports though, I have an odd attraction to YA novels about less popular sports. Cricket or curling? I would be all over that. I just finished Being Sloane Jacobs with ice hockey and figure skating, and now Letters to Nowhere with gymnastics. Based on the title, I really didn’t know what to make of Letters to Nowhere (frankly I was petrified of some sort of The Lake House scenario), but Cross’ contemporary novel is a sweet story about dealing with grief, building family where you find it, and, of course, gymnastics.

On the rare occasions I do voluntarily and with purpose sit down to watch sports, gymnastics is probably my favorite, particularly women’s gymnastics (how boring and torturous is watching routines on the rings?). Karen is in training as an elite gymnast, which means she practices for HOURS every day. When she’s not practicing, she’s completing high school online, and doing so in three years too. There’s a whole lot of gymnastics stuff in Letters to Nowhere and, though I’m not too familiar with the terminology, I never felt out of my element and I loved learning about the sport. The dynamics between Karen and her teammates are great, capturing both the competitiveness and the support the girls give one another.

Family and gymnastics are the main focuses of the novel. Right before the novel opens, both Karen’s parents died in a car accident. Her grieving has resulted in panic attacks, nightmares, and her coach, Bentley, being declared her legal guardian. The grief actually has one other side effect: increased motivation for her gymnastics. From what I can gather, Karen was always motivated, but she really throws herself into developing as a gymnast in the wake of her parents’ death, if only to keep her mind and body occupied.

Before her parents died, they’d done the parent thing and forced Karen to agree to the safe plan for the future: a college scholarship for gymnastics. Now, with them gone, she’s trying to decide whether she should accept the full ride or follow her dreams to the possibility of competing on an international level. Her success in gymnastics and grief about her parents are all twined together in a knot she has to work through in her own head.

The romance really shined for me in Letters to Nowhere as well. Karen and Bentley’s son Jordan develop an attachment. It’s sort of a slow burn, starting as tentative friends, then a tentative relationship and building to more serious feelings. My favorite thing about them is how silly and honest they are with one another. They go shopping for tampons together, make jokes about sex, and discuss embarrassing things openly (like which boob is larger than the other and how long sex really lasts). I also like that this sounds like a really melodramatic romantic set up, but it’s not treated that way at all. Jordan and Karen are actually really good for one another. The way that Karen’s introduction to the Bentley family helps Jordan and his father deal with their problems is also quite touching.

By and large, Letters to Nowhere is well edited. I noted a couple of grammatical issues (just like I do in finished copies of traditionally published books), but they weren’t all over the place. The one aspect of the novel that didn’t work for me were actually the letters that give the book its title. Karen writes these letters to her deceased parents, and they’re symbolic of her emotional state and it’s all a big metaphor. However, I think the metaphor would have worked without the letters, which tended to be a bit redundant as she told them about her life. In addition, Karen’s voice in the letters is much younger than in the rest of the first person narrative. However, the letters she wrote to other people (Jordan, Bentley, her gymnastics teammates) were cute and funny. I can see where the letters are an interesting frame concept, but they didn’t really work for me.

Put into gymnastics terms, Letters to Nowhere started a bit wobbly and almost fell of the beam, but by the end the routine flowed smoothly and Cross stuck the landing. I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy this one quite so much, but I love finding contemporary novels that are about more than just romance, have nice witty banter, and a non-standard romance.

Favorite Quote:

“There’s no score in therapy. No Russian judge.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

beam routine

17 responses to “Review: Letters to Nowhere”

  1. Oh, I died at: “β€œOh, look, he kicked the ball. Clearly, that merits applause.”” That’s about my attitude toward sports.

    The way you describe the relationship in this book is so cute, I’m almost tempted!

    • Christina Franke says:

      Ha, that’s a paraphrase of a line from a show called The IT Crowd. It’s fantastic and you should watch it. Available on Netflix Watch Instantly!

  2. I’m a fan of sports and sports in books when done right (I’ve seen it go wrong more times than not), but I agree that LETTERS TO NOWHERE was great. I loved the romance. πŸ™‚
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    • Christina Franke says:

      The romance was so well done, and didn’t follow the traditional alpha male pattern. It was sweet and they felt like teens falling for each other, not like destiny’s instalove or whatever. πŸ™‚

  3. I’m definitely not a sports fan, either. In fact, I don’t even watch the Olympics. I’m actually not a huge fan go gymnastics. I get so stressed watching it. I’m always worried that they’re going to crack their heads open or something. I actually feel this way about figure skating too. They get WAY too close to the edge of the ice rink, if you ask me.

    But I am curious about this book. I do like a slow-burn romance, especially one that’s isn’t all drama, drama, drama. Thanks for the review.
    Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook recently posted…Review: The Fairest Beauty by Melanie DickersonMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Hahahaha, I like watching figure skating and gymnastics, but you could not make me do them for all the money in the world. I’ve gone ice skating exactly once and you could not pry me off of the wall. Haha. Something else you wouldn’t like? Cirque du Soleil.

      Maybe gymnastics won’t freak you out as much in print?

  4. Zoe N. says:

    Great review Christiana! I’m so glad you liked this as much as I did! πŸ™‚ Like you said, I loved how realistic this was; it felt so real to me! The romance between Jordan & Karen was by far my favorite part though!
            Being a competitive gymnast myself, I thought the gymnastics element of the story was a definite plus; and I felt Julie did an incredible job explaining the skills in terms that even non-gymnasts could understand. However, I guess I can see how this might be a tad boring or overwhelming for people who aren’t huge gymnastics fans; but I’m glad you liked it overall!

    As always, brilliant review Christina! πŸ˜€
    Zoe N. recently posted…Code Name VerityMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      The romance was SO well done. A lot of times it’s the big drawback, but the evolution of this one was so adorable and very authentic.

      Oh wow! It’s awesome to hear from a competitive gymnast. I know very little about gymnastics except what can be garnered from a bit of watching. I was always to afraid to hurl myself at the ground. Anyway, I’m glad that it’s so accurate from the perspective of someone who knows!

  5. I have yet to read this book. I think I had a copy of it somewhere, but I’ve just been putting it off so far that it fell under my bed and has been living there ever since.

    Love the review and the way you stated your points. I’m quite confident in this one now. πŸ˜€
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Wah wah. I think you should dig it out. Adorable contemporary with some nice darker themes too. πŸ™‚

  6. Meg says:

    Ugh. That cover. Why would you pass up the silver platter-presented opportunity to do a sweet gymnastics cover?

    ANYWAY.

    I’m glad you liked it!! I forgot the boob conversation. That, the tampon shopping and all the gymnastics were probably my favorite parts. The whole thing with her parents didn’t give me any kind of feelings at all, which is weird because hello tragedy.

    I also loved how Jordan helped Karen cope, he was a sweetie for sure.

    I see what you did there with your wobbly starts and beams metaphor. Well done.

    • Christina Franke says:

      FOR REAL. This cover could have been so cool. Such a waste.

      Basically, the relationship moments were almost entirely adorable.

      Thank you, ma’am.

  7. celyn says:

    great review! this sounds like an interesting read!

  8. Antara says:

    Cover, you’re supposed to tell me that you’re awesome!
    I would never pick this book and I L-O-V-E gymnastics thingies (Make It or Break It I’m looking at you). It holds the distinction of being the only 3 Olympic sports I watch.
    Anyhoo, great review! Definitely adding it to the TBR.
    Antara recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday #2: Resolutions For 2014My Profile

  9. Lyn Kaye says:

    “Generally, I’m like β€œOh, look, he kicked the ball. Clearly, that merits applause.” ”

    You have my love over this comment.

    I agree, I so agree.
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #72My Profile

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