- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Posted November 10, 2014
I discovered Julie Cross when I reviewed Whatever Life Throws At You. I was so taken by her voice, the story, and the characters that I rushed out and picked up Letters to Nowhere. Sometimes it's a gamble to go back and read an older book by an author you love. This isn't one of those cases. I loved everything about Letters to Nowhere. Seventeen-year-old Karen Campbell is a spitfire at under five feet and a gymnastic dynamo. When her parents are killed in a car accident, she's left an orphan, struggling to understand how she's supposed to go on. Forced to choose between a promising gymnastics career and family, her coach steps in and offers to be her guardian in place of her grandmother, allowing her to continue her training. Gymnastics is the only thing Karen understands and takes him up on the offer.
Things get interesting when she meets her coach's seventeen-year-old son, Jordan. He gets her in a way no one ever has and she soon discovers why. With shared pain, they bond on a deeper level than either of them has ever known. When friendship turns into something more, things get complicated considering they live in the same house. And oh yeah, his dad is her coach. Karen struggles with how to cope with unimaginable loss, plans for her future, and how to help Jordan cope with his own pain.
The plot is complex. The main plot is likely the relationship between Karen and Jordan, but there are strong subplots, including Karen's gymnastics career, her ability to cope with the loss of her parents, the mystery surrounding the accident, the secret Jordan's best friend Tony is hiding, and Jordan's relationship with is father. Julie Cross manages to weave all of these together seamlessly, creating a beautiful tapestry of emotion. Letters to Nowhere is definitely a page turner, with increasing tension and heartfelt moments that are worth the wait.
As a former gymnast, Julie Cross creates an authentic world filled with juniors, worlds, elites, olympics, bars, vaults, floors, and more. I don't know much (anything) about this world and yet I was so immersed in it, I could easily understand Karen's drive, her fears, doubts, and goals.
All the characters are strong. Karen is deep, troubled, sympathetic, and exceedingly believable. Watching her process her grief and anger over her parents' deaths is sometimes difficult. I love that it wasn't an easy transition for her, that the author didn't have her move on too quickly and make the dead parents just a plot vehicle for the romance. It's more like the romance is there to help drive the grief plot. Everything Karen does is laced with thoughts of her parents. I love that she writes letters, sometimes only in her head, that she never intends to send. She writes letters to Jordan, her parents, and her coach, giving us a glimpse inside her head and allowing us to connect with her on a very deep level.
Jordan is equally fascinating, yet we only see him through Karen's eyes. He's sweet, loyal, a total daredevil, and he's deeply wounded himself. Karen recognizes his pain for what it is and tries to help him through it.
The rest of the cast from Coach Bentley to the other gymnasts, and even Jordan's best friend Tony, are well-rounded and support deeper plotting and characterization with their presence.
Letters to Nowhere is a compelling young adult story that is as uplifting as it is tragic. Karen deals with loss, triumph, and first love, with equal parts grit and humor.
Posted January 31, 2014
Letters to Nowhere is the poignant story of Karen Campbell, a teen gymnast trying to pick up the pieces of her life after losing her parents in a tragic car accident. Her gym coach offers up his home as a place to live, and that’s where she meets his son, Jordan. As Karen works hard to achieve discipline on the mat, she works equally hard to overcome her grief and give her relationship with Jordan a fighting chance.
Growing and learning with Karen was an emotional experience. It broke my heart to see her grieve, battle nightmares, and try to determine the course of her future. I enjoyed watching her inch out of her shell and relate to Jordan. Though emotionally and even socially vulnerable, she tackled mature issues directly and with honesty, always striving to overcome her weaknesses.
The most heart-wrenching moment for me was when Karen discovered a secret involving her parents. Having experienced parental loss myself, I was moved to tears by her reaction and the way she chose to move forward.
Letters to Nowhere is a great novel about love, loss, and friendship set against the competitive backdrop of gymnastics. A coming-of-age story you won’t want to miss!
Posted August 30, 2013
I have only read a small amount of books that revolve around some sort of sport field. It's hard for me to relate to them since I've never been a big sports person. That said, I really enjoyed this book. It was easy to follow all of the terminology and easy to fall into Karen's life. There weren't really any grammatical errors, which is awesome because that happens more often than not. The plot was completely believable and not completely outlandish.
Karen was very realistic about going through what she had. Losing your parents is never easy (I lost my mom at a very young age). It's hard to figure out where they are and how to live your life without them. She seemed to go through all the stages of grief in this story which was very believable. There weren't any things about her that really bothered me as so many teenager POV's do these days.
Jordan was also very realistic to me. He was going through his own family problems in a believable manner. He was able to be there for Karen in a way that other people not in a similar situation would have been able to be. They truly helped each other in overcoming their problems and actually being there for each other. The thing I liked best is that it was not insta-love, but a gradual love. He didn't expect her to change for him as many guys in literature do.
The thing I liked best is the plot. It was consistent and things were resolved by the end. There weren't any forgotten threads and it wasn't completely outlandish. As well, I liked how it did not give any real references to eating disorders as that is one thing that is brought up with gymnastics. This story shows you can be successful in the field without it. You can be healthy and still achieve your dreams. I strongly recommend this!
Posted August 7, 2013
So, confession time. I am a gym mom. I have two girls and spend a lot of time in the gym. And my future in the gym just looks like it is going to increase, not decrease! So, when I got the request to review this book about an elite gymnast, I jumped all over it! And I’m glad I did.
We meet Karen as her world is falling apart. She has just lost both her parents to a horrible car accident. At that point she thinks she is going to have to leave everything she knew and move from St. Louis to New York with her Grandmother. But then her coach offers to let her move in with him. It turns out to be the best thing for her.
Karen has amazing skills, but has never been pushed to realize those skills. But her coach is determined to prove to her what she is capable of, and along to way, she find out that Jordan, Coach Bentley’s son, might have more in common with her than she originally thought.
Jordan is a pretty complex character as well. Jordan doesn’t know how to talk to his father and has gotten into some trouble along the way as well, but when Karen moves in with him, they find some common ground and begin to heal a little bit as well.
I adored this book. It was so well written and such a great story. I seriously couldn’t put it down and read way longer than I should to finish it. Both Jordan and Karen have some pretty deep scars and need some time to heal, both find someone that they were not expecting in each other.
Posted August 2, 2013
I have read this authors debut book Tempest & sequel Vortex (1&2 of trilogy) about time travelers, romance and secret agents which I enjoyed.
Her writing has grown to a new, deeper level in this book. It's definently a page turner, finished in one day. This book is about the life of an elite gymnast, romance, relationships and vulnerability expressed from the loss of someone you loved. Well written. Full of emotions.
Looking forward to future books from this author.
Posted August 2, 2013
I loved this book because of how honest it was about grief. ‘Letters to Nowhere’ really empathized that there are different ways to grieve, and that it’s not always outwardly dramatic. The main character here, Karen, is very driven to be the best. She’s lost her parents and she feels very guilty that she might want a different path from the one her and her parents decided on before they passed away. Karen’s in a very difficult situation, and she’s also becoming aware for the first time of her true potential in gymnastics.
One of my favourite things about ‘Letters to Nowhere’ was the relationship between Jordan and Karen. These two have a very special connection, as they’re both mature beyond their years because of the things they’ve been through. Their bond right from the beginning lies with them being able to talk and actually be honest about their feelings. However these characters are realistic teens in that they’re not mature and perfectly communicative all the time. Jordan is a bit of a daredevil and does dumb teenage boy things, while Karen has been sheltered her whole life and is unschooled when it comes to boys and relationships.
I liked how this book was about Karen’s grief and trying to heal from losing her parents, but it was also about her potential as an international elite gymnast. Beyond Karen the book also focused on Jordan and his Dad working through their own issues. There were a lot of layers there, but they all worked so well together.
What’s awesome about this book is that it doesn’t offer any easy answers about grief. There isn’t a perfect concrete answer or epiphany that happens. ‘Letters to Nowhere’ features an open ending, but a perfect one. What I took away from the book is that just moving forward and trying to do your best is really all any of us can do.
‘Letters to Nowhere’ is a fantastically written book. It’s emotional, but not to the extent it will drain all your energy. It features gymnastics in a way that is technical enough to believe that Karen is a real gymnast, but also describes things well enough for people who have no clue about gymnastics (aka: me!). I absolutely loved reading this one, and I can see myself re-reading it again soon.
Posted August 2, 2013
I fell in love with Karen and Jordan's story. A beautiful story of hope, growth, and relationships. I love Julie's sci-fi Tempest series, but this one is even better. I love Julie Cross's progression as an author - she gets better with every book and it is just a treat to see what will come next from this fantastic author.
Gymnastics books are always a treat to read - I have always been fascinated by the sport and the immense talent it takes. Julie Cross knows what she is talking about, as it comes so clearly across in Letters to Nowhere.
I am so excited for Letters To Nowhere to finally be coming out - I feel as if it has been so long since I read it and fell in love with Karen and Jordan's story, yet their story is still so touching to me and just magical. There are so many aspects of Karen and Jordan as characters that are so diverse - they are both so flawed, yet together, they make a perfect match.
While it's known I am not the biggest contemp fan, Letters To Nowhere blew me away! While the deeper themes of the novel are darker and sad, that isn't what drives Letters to Nowhere. There is happiness and laughter to balance it out.
Posted August 2, 2013
Letters to Nowhere by Julie Cross is one of the best books of 2013. I loved Letters to Nowhere. I am a fan of her Tempest series, but LTN was something totally different, and a fabulous close to home read.
Letters to Nowhere is about tragedy, grief, hope, relationships, competition, and growth.
The heroine in this story is 17 year old Karen, an elite gymnastic athelet, and we totally identify with her from the start. When the story starts, Karen has lost her parents in a car crash, and her life is in turmoil, filled with grief and anxiety. Where will she go? Will she be able to stay with her gymnastic dreams? Can she rise above her anxiety attacks and live a normal life? So many questions early on, but Karen’s Gymnastics coach, Bentley offers to allow Karen to remain with the team, and stay at his house with his son, Jordan.
Throughout this book, we feel Karen’s pain, especially as her outlet, she writes short letters to her parents, her coach, and Jordan, who will become an important part of her life. These letters are Karen’s ways of expressing her fears, but these go nowhere, as she keeps them for herself. They are truly The Letters to Nowhere. But each letter, though short, allows us to share her emotional grief, and we follow her every step of the way.
There are so many wonderful parts of this story. Karen and Jordan take a slow journey to friendship and then eventually something that could possibly be more. But Jordan is the right person to help Karen get through her grief and anxiety. He helps her with basic things to get past it, as Jordan has gone through is own grief (as does Coach Bentley), having lost his mother and sister to a different terrible tragedy a few years earlier. But this friendship between the two of them is beautiful and it is Jordan, who comes across as her savior. What family wouldn’t want a Jordan in their daughter’s life.
I am in awe of Julie Cross doing something so heartwarming, so emotional, and yet give us the enjoyment of seeing what it’s like in the world of gymnastics. It was fun to be with Karen, Coach Bentley and the wonderful secondary characters that Julie has created. I just loved the practices, competitions, and how each of the athletes handle the daily stress of being an elite gymnastic athlete. Julie uses her own gymnastics coaching background perfectly to let us see it all. So well done.
But the heart of the story is Karen, whom we love from the start; and Jordan, who totally grows on us, as their friendship grows. They are both wonderful, being so realistic, as both have to rise above their own flaws & tragedies. The focus is though on Karen, if she can overcome her anxiety, come to terms with her grief, and not it allow this to ruin her chances to make the US teams that lead to the Olympics. Watching Karen’s growth in this book was amazing, as we felt her every emotion. I can’t say enough about Julie Cross’s writing, as Letters to Nowhere is a wonderful and heart wrenching story. The ending does have resolutions, but I do feel there is so much more to go for Karen and Jordan; the Olympic goal for Karen and her friends, and for those wonderful other secondary characters. Letters to Nowhere is a touching, emotional, & gripping story; and yet a fun read with the gymnastic background, the competitions and great the characters. This is a must read.
Posted August 2, 2013
LETTERS TO NOWHERE is one of the best contemporary books I have read in awhile. It is touching, heart wrenching, and powerful. You will fall in love with Karen and Jordan.
They both have their flaws, their ups and their downs, but it works for them.
The letters from Karen that you read throughout the book are the perfect touch. I just loved seeing Karen's growth throughout the book, and Jordan's as well.
While the book is sad in some parts, you will find yourself laughing in others and enjoying every minute of it. I couldn't stop reading it!
It is so well written and such a powerful story. You grow along side the characters and find yourself wrapped up in their story.
As a huge fan of Julie Cross, I wasn't disappointed. In fact, LETTERS TO NOWHERE made me love her books even more.
Posted August 2, 2013
You know those books that stick with you long after you read them? Where the characters take up some of your thought and you wonder how they are doing? The ones where you can't wait to get back to only to realize the story is over? Well, Letters To Nowhere by Julie Cross is one of those books. When the ARC of Letters To Nowhere was available for review, I was intrigued. I have been a huge fan of gymnastics and followed elite gymnastics since the 1988 Seoul Olympics. However, I was a little hesitant because the overall tone of the book sounded quite emotional. I generally like to read books to take me away from reality and the "sad" things that happen in real life, however, once I started reading it I couldn't put it down.
Julie Cross writes a very emotional and hopeful story about Karen, an older teen who loses her parents in a car accident. She moves in with her gymnastics coach "Coach Bentley" and his son, Jordan. From there we watch her cope with her parents death and handle the extreme pressures of elite gymnastics. She finds a friend in Jordan, who has gone through a loss of his own. They turn to one another when they can't turn to anyone else. I fell in love with Jordan and his father pretty quickly. Karen has shaken up their world in a way that forces them to face things they did not want to before. She brings them closer together.
I thought the friendship and romance aspect between Karen and Jordan was so appropriate for the story line and the two characters. There were several scenes between the two of them in which my tears fell, but then other scenes in which my heart would swell with happy emotion. It was fun watching the two of them do "regular" teen activities together as well because those were things Karen hadn't really experienced yet.
Karen's teammates brought a lot to the story. You get to see how each one affected Karen and helped her cope with different aspects of her life and her gymnastics. Julie develops all of the characters well and you get a sense that you know them well at the end of the story. I enjoyed Jordan's friend Tony very much and hope we will see him in future books (Julie, I sure hope there are future books!). I can tell Tony and Karen are going to be special friends.
Letters To Nowhere is about coping with life and death and finding hope. It is also about young love and figuring out who we are as individuals when life gets messy. If you are looking for a book that feels as though it could be a true story and is both heart wrenching and heartwarming I highly recommend Letters to Nowhere.
Posted October 13, 2014
No text was provided for this review.