By Ellie Estrema
As Valentine’s Day approaches, many people on Cedarville’s campus are pulling out their heart-shaped decorations, red roses and cards with cute sayings to celebrate this sweet holiday. However, for readers, finding books appropriate for the season can be a little bit more tricky. Everyone enjoys a fluffy romance now and then, but reading a steady diet of them around Valentine’s Day can be underwhelming at best and nauseating at worst.
This is where Caitlin Miller’s “Our Yellow Tape Letters” comes in.
Amidst a sea of fluffy love stories, this book shines like a lighthouse on the shore, standing out in several ways.
First, unlike many historical romance books, this book is set directly after World War II. The main character Lucy Skyes has to work through her grief over her brother who died in battle. Meanwhile, Jeremiah Sparrow, the man who blames himself for her brother’s death, deals with the ramifications of his injuries from the war. I appreciate this unique perspective as Miller tackled a portion of history that most authors simply address with a “Happily Ever After.”
Second, while most romance books wade in the shallow end, “Our Yellow Tape Letters” dives deep into topics like grief, depression and fear with sensitivity and a faith-filled perspective. The characters struggle with the consequences of war as they wonder if there is ever light at the end of the tunnel. My heart breaks along with them over what they had to endure as Miller leads me through the reality of loss and showed me the beauty of hope.
The third thing that makes “Our Yellow Tape Letters” stand out is how it is told in letters. Lucy Skyes writes to Jeremiah Sparrow for information on how her brother died, and he writes back, telling the story of how he met her brother. I was curious to see how Miller would convey this storm of emotion in letter format, especially considering the usual overdramatic, overly perfect letters in this genre.
But Miller allows us to see the messy reality with multiple letter drafts, crossed-out lines, and notes of commentary. I could see the character’s stream of thoughts, grief and pain in a way that made me feel they were alive and dynamic people. I also enjoy the astonishing amount of variety as Miller includes little notes from side characters, journal entries from both main characters as well and the main correspondence.
These are the main things that make this book stand out, but there are a few other reasons that make it a must-read this time of the year.
The book’s tone, though told in many different letters and notes, is consistently beautiful. Miller’s prose feels like lyrical poetry as it flows from sentence to sentence, and every other line is one that you want to underline, quote, and hang up on your wall.
I also enjoy the honesty of the story. Rather than having characters who always forgive each other when they mess up and accept what comes into their path with unquestioning faith, Miller shows us how hard things are in this broken world while also giving us hope in the Savior who redeems the broken.
Incredible themes aside, the love story does not disappoint. Miller nails the friends-to-lovers theme as Lucy and Jeremiah get to know each other’s souls through their letters. The relationship proceeds slowly and honestly.
This book also has amazing sibling dynamics. Ben and Lucy have so much mutual love and respect, a breath of fresh air in a world where books too often glorify broken families. And yet, their relationship has its dark side. Ben is afraid of letting Lucy down, which causes him to hide his mental health issues from her, while Lucy feels like she can’t live up to her older brother. And that’s not even considering Sage, their best friend who has her own story to share.
Tone, theme and incredible character dynamics combine to create a book you won’t want to miss. With themes of love, forgiveness and grief, this book goes deeper than your average fluffy love story, while still giving the reader a powerful picture of the triumphant nature of love. I highly recommend “Our Yellow Tape Letters” for readers looking for a little bit deeper book this Valentine’s Day.
“Our Yellow Tape Letters” is available on Kindle Unlimited and Amazon.
Ellie Estrema is a freshman double majoring in PWID and Spanish. As a TCK, former MK and current PK, she loves learning languages, traveling to see old friends and describing herself with weird acronyms. When she’s not buried in homework, you can usually find her curled up in a hammock: reading stories, writing poetry or laughing with her friends over steaming cups of tea.
Photos courtesy of Amazon.com