Dear Jane, by Rachel Ward, was one of those books I wasn’t super excited to read. The book cover and book description didn’t sound very complex or interesting, but rather kind of cheesy and uncomplicated.
If you read the book cover and think the same thing, read this book anyway, because the actual book is absolutely amazing. It really, truly is.
Now, if you aren’t LDS, you probably would find this book confusing. The author does not explain anything about LDS culture or beliefs, but rather assumes that the reader is LDS. There is nothing wrong with that, but just know that if you aren’t LDS, you probably won’t understand the book unless you have a very close LDS friend who can fill you in. The author also completely engulfs the reader into the state of Utah – from its weather to its geography to its restaurants. It helps to be familiar with Utah when reading this book, but not a requirement to enjoy it.
In the beginning of Dear Jane, Quinn Matthews is in her last few months of her LDS mission in Florida, when she receives a “Dear Jane” letter from the love of her life, Joshua, which basically says that he has gotten engaged to someone else and doesn’t think they were meant to be. This, of course, breaks Quinn’s heart.
Once she comes home from her mission, she isn’t motivated to do much and isn’t sure of her future. But, through the gentle prodding of her father, she ends up getting a job at a local realtor’s office. Through this new job, a missionary she knew in Florida comes back into her life, much to her dismay.
I won’t tell you anymore details other than to promise you that this book reads as if it is a true story. Every detail is brought before your eyes. You are with Quinn from start to finish, experiencing her annoyances, anxieties, fears, tragedies, confusions, loves, and joys.
I found myself really relating to her – maybe not her fear of public speaking, addiction to cotton candy, or her love of running – but I felt that if I were in her shoes, I probably would react very similarly to her. Her character was so real. Her reactions from every trial and moment she went through were completely authentic and human.
The author was full of surprises. Just when I thought something in the story was predictable, Ward threw in something to completely prove me wrong. The story definitely had me guessing, and kept me yearning for more. I couldn’t drink it up fast enough.
A true test of a good book is when you want to read a particular part more than once so you can experience it again. Another true test is whether or not the book makes you cry. I gasped and burst into tears more than once in the book. No, nothing about Quinn’s story (and the stories of those around her) is superficial or easy. She lived a life of real problems, imperfections, and trials. Darkness seeped into the light of her life through much of the book, but how she endured – and how she helped others endure – really solidified the uplifting factor of this work of art.
This will be a book I keep on my shelf forever. It was absolutely beautiful. Well done, Rachel Ward!
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
About the book:
The plan was to serve a mission, marry her boyfriend, and live happily ever after. But all of that changed when Quinn got a Dear Jane email. Now she’s stuck at home with no boyfriend, no job, no major, and absolutely no social life. Will Quinn ever find the path that leads to her eternal happiness?
About the author:
Rachel Turner Ward graduated from Hillcrest High School after spending two years writing for the yearbook and the creative writing magazine. She then studied English at Brigham Young University—Idaho, graduating with an emphasis in Literary Studies. She has contributed to several online publications, including Mormon Mommy Blogs and SheSteals. She has written a personal blog since 2009, Trapped Between a Scream and a Hug.