Thursday, 22 October 2015

Book review: If you find this letter

Hannah Brencher's mother always send her handwritten letters and they became her lifeline in growing up. So when she moved to New York and saw around her a city full of people searching for their place in the world Hannah decided to write to them. Seeing a culture where people only connected to each other on screens, Hannah poured her heart out on paper and send the letters to people who might need them. Her idea quickly grew when she started the blog More Love Letters and she involved other people in her quest: to make the world better, one letter at a time.

(I saved a great many quotes from the book, so I will sprinkle some throughout this review for you to enjoy and get a taste of the book.)

I never heard of Hannah Brencher or her project More Love Letters before I read this book, but let me just say: she is wonderful. I think she picked up on some very important things in our modern society: the loneliness of people despite being always 'connected' and the lack of real, meaningful relationships. I found the first part of the book very relatable as Hannah describes trying to find her way in the 'big city'. She struggles with things I struggled with (and still do!) and I think many young(ish) people do: am I on the right path? Am I good enough? Who can I really be myself with? What I also really liked was how Hannah doesn't write impersonal and factual about problems in society, but keeps her thoughts close to her own life: what are her struggles and how do they relate to struggles of other people.

'Books change you. They mess up your insides. They make you drool over the prospect of being a
better lover and a better friend. They pull at your stomach and leave you raw and open and naked. Books can straight-up
mangle you and sometimes it’s better if you let them do their work.'

I was pleasantly surprised about the Christian content of this book. I hadn't picked up from reading the synopsis that Hannah Brencher is a Christian, so apart from her spot-on musings about life and relationships in general, there are also some great thoughts about the meaning of faith and how your relationship with God changes as you grow up. The writing style of If you find this letter is really lyrical and beautiful, making the book a pleasure to read. It's also very visual, I could easily imagine the places and people Hannah wrote about.

'Our hearts are restless until they rest in You. I loved that.
I loved knowing a restless heart wasn’t an accident.
I loved the idea of finding the sort of God who would just let you rest in Him.'

Unfortunately, after enjoying the first half of the book very very much, the latter part was a bit of a let-down. The musings became repetitive, the stories about people who received letters from Hannah's project were like loose anecdotes and here and there the writing felt just a little bit self-important.

'Sometimes we don’t get stronger right when we want to.
And sometimes an attitude change isn’t as simple as we think it can be.
I think it’s more than okay to wake up some days and just be ‘okay’.
Not amazing. Not having the best day of your life. Life is just hard sometimes.
And people deserve more credit for even getting out of bed sometimes.'

All in all, this is a very inspiring book with lots of important messages that I can definitely recommend. It could have been even better had it been somewhat shorter and edited more strictly.

And one more quote, because I believe it's true and because I think it's apt for a review posted on this blog!

'And I learned the Internet is really just a thin veil between us.
Sometimes you’re only a blog comment away from meeting a best friend or falling in love.'

I received an ebook version of this novel from NetGalley and the publisher Howard Books in exchange for an honest review.

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