When it comes to pretty covers, there’s a 75% chance my admiration for the aesthetic will overpower that wise little voice that tells me the book isn’t worth my $20.
Alas, such is the case with The Love Letter.
Now I hope you don’t find this review overly critical, but when it comes to Christian fiction I find that quality writing, character development, and deep messages are challenging to find. (I’ll do a blog post soon on what I look for in a book, soon. I promise… well if I can swim out of the ocean of schoolwork that’s currently drowning me.)
The Love Letter follows two timelines, one being a Revolutionary War romance, and the other centering on two individuals making a movie about the aforementioned romance.
I needed an easy read, I had been reading some pretty heady stuff/emotional stuff and this book seemed light and nice. (Complete side note: I finished my Goodreads challenge! Looking back on my reading selections, I’m pretty pleased with this year’s books.)
While The Love Letter was nice, it was too light for my taste. The book, in my opinion, had too much in common with a Hallmark movie – feel good and lacking substance/quality.
The Revolutionary War plot was not as interesting as I expected. I found it focused more on the love of the characters than it did on the characters themselves, making the plot underdeveloped and not engaging.
I applauded Hauck for the unconventional conclusion of Esther and Hamilton’s (the couple of the Revolutionary plot) love story, but since the substance wasn’t there in the first place, this end wasn’t as strong as it could’ve been.
Hamilton’s guilt over war violence added something that hinted at deeper meaning, but this fell flat, and I didn’t feel it was executed as well as it could’ve been.
As for the modern plot, the characters had more flesh on them, but there were some problems I had with the story. Jesse and Chloe both have something in their past that they can’t quite rid themselves of, which was wonderful for the redemption element of the story. I enjoyed the ending of their story and that the happy ending wasn’t spoon fed to the reader.
Chloe’s character annoyed me in some ways however. I found it odd that as someone who had given her life to Christ, she never considered the fact that (for most of the book) Jesse doesn’t share her faith. She comes to depend on him and trust him but not once does she recognize his apathy toward God as a problem.
Overall I felt that this book was lacking. Love triumphing is a beautiful message, but if not carried out well, it can be cheesy. In this case it was. I didn’t walk away from this book inspired, or with a piece of insight to treasure.
This kind of message needs substantial, above average writing, and well rounded characters – characters with flesh and bone, not just notions. I also think this book didn’t stick with me because the writing wasn’t my taste. It involved more tell than show. This prevented me from relating to the characters and immersing myself in the story.
(Maybe my writing standards are too high, but does anyone else feel Christian fiction often lacks in this department? Of course there are some phenomenal authors in this genre, but I find them difficult to discover.)
The characters themselves had more to them than some, and they did have insecurities, but they weren’t believable enough to make me feel as if I knew them as friends.
Like I said, not a terrible book, but not one I’ll remember by next year.
(Photos in collage from Pinterest)