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Letters to Nowhere (Letters to Nowhere #1) by Julie Cross

Letters to Nowhere (Letters to Nowhere #1) by Julie Cross

5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis
From the International Bestselling Author of the Tempest Series…

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.

My Review
I discovered Julie Cross when I reviewed Whatever Life Throws At You. I was so taken by her voice, by the story, by 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 I 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 soon she discovers why. With shared pain, they bond on a deeper level than either of them has ever known. When friendship becomes 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.

Plot
The plot is complex, layered, and deep. 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 their 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 so its impossible to differentiate the plot points as the create a beautiful tapestry of emotion. Letters to Nowhere is definitely a page turner with increasing tension and heartfelt moments that are worth the wait.

World Building
As a former gymnast, Julie Cross creates an authentic and detailed world of international gymnastics. I don’t know enough (anything) about this world, but she so fully immersed me in the language of  juniors, worlds, elites, olympics that I feel like I understood Karen’s drive, her fears, doubts, and goals, as well as the drama and politics that are a part of any elite sport.

Characters
All the characters are strong. Karen is deep, troubled, sympathetic and exceedingly believable. Watching her process grief and anger over her parents’ deaths was intense. I love that Julie Cross doesn’t give her an easy transition. I never got the sense that the tragedy, her parents’ deaths, was 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. These letters help her process her thoughts and emotions. She writes letters to Jordan, to her parents, and to her coach, giving us glimpses inside her head and allowing us 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. I love that 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.

Bottom Line
Letters to Nowhere is an intensely beautiful 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.

About the Book
Title:
 Letters to Nowhere
Series: Letters to Nowhere #1
Author: Julie Cross
Publisher: Long Walk Press
Release Date: August 1, 2013
Pages: 356
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

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Author Julie Cross

Author Julie Cross

About the Author
Julie Cross lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast and longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former gymnastics program director with the YMCA.

She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres.

Outside of her reading and writing credentials, Julie is a committed—but not talented—long-distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar-weather survivor, and expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym-shoe addict.

Where to Find Julie Cross
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter