by Kasie West
This is a recommendation that originally came from the Trope-ical Readathon to fulfill the secret messaging trope. Obviously, it’s too late for the readathon but I had to wait a few weeks for it to become available through the library. I am glad I followed through with the library loan (Libby is awesome) because I ended up enjoying the book.
The book isn’t overly complicated. It’s about a girl who finds a connection with a fellow student through anonymous letters in chemistry class (chemistry in chemistry…what a perfect set up right??). Initially, the connection is enough but it is inevitable that Lily starts to wonder who it is she has been sharing so much of herself with. Who is it that seems to understand her so well? I’m a bit of a romantic so I started to look forward to the letters as much as Lily did. I also shared her anxiety at the realization that weekends and vacations meant no letters to read or to write back. (Where are my letters??)
The book gives us the upside of communicating anonymously, tapping into the romantic ideal of falling for someone for who they are rather than what they look like. The letters aren’t terribly deep or introspective but they’re intimate. Within the letters are things neither writer would probably tell anyone else, even to best friends for that matter. That’s the beauty of being anonymous. You can be vulnerable in a way that you’d be afraid to be in real life; you don’t have to be self-conscious.
Of course, when dealing with a trope about communicating anonymously, it cannot be helped that the author tries to have readers do a bit of guessing —whoever could this person be??? Thankfully, West does not drag it out too long and if she had, I might have stopped reading it or skipped pages. As much as I liked the anonymity, I think I like what happens after a bit more. It calls for certain discussions that I can’t exactly talk about without giving things away. (But if you’ve already read it and want to discuss it, we should definitely do that.)
Having read so many stories with absent parents or bad familial relationships, it was nice to have a main character with a loving family despite life being somewhat chaotic–Thanksgiving with her family was fun. I generally liked Lily even though she could be flaky at times. Because she has to fulfill family obligations, she constantly has to reschedule hanging out with her best friend, who seems to just have to take it in strides. Of course, I sympathized with Lily just a bit more than her best friend because of my own experiences with trying to balance family expectations with anything outside of the family.
A few events leading up to the ending weren’t necessary. But, that’s just my opinion. The book would have been fine without the additional hurdle. Also, the book ends rather abruptly. I had to swipe to back and forth to make sure I hadn’t skipped over anything, to make sure there were no more pages. (This is it? It’s really over?) Despite this, I think it ends on a note that will leave readers somewhat satisfied. I mean, I eventually came to terms with it but would not have minded a few more pages to close it off a bit more neatly. Overall, it was a good book.