Book Club: Nineteen Letters

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Author: Jodi Perry
Hachette Australia
Courtesy of the Publisher

Nineteen Letters is the debut novel of Jodi Perry, but the tenth novel by the author who has written bestsellers as J.L. Perry. This is my introduction to the author under either name. It has been said that the book has echoes of Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook in particular. Well, I can’t comment on that because I haven’t read it, or watched the movie so that was not one of the reasons that I picked it up.

Stories of high school sweethearts and childhood sweethearts make for such beautiful love stories, Perry takes this one a step further. Braxton Spencer meets Jemma Robinson when she moves in next door to him, when he is 7 and she is 6. They become friends on the very first day and that relationship grows and stays with them through the years.

For much of the book Braxton is referred to by his full name and I found that to be quite a mouthful because he only ever would have been Brax to me. I think in the years leading up to the book he may have been a Brax but life has been thrown into chaos by the time we are brought into the picture and everything is a little more distanced.

Jodi Perry has written an absolutely gorgeous friends to lovers story that we don’t follow from start to finish, instead we learn about it all from Braxton’s letters.

In a heartbreaking twist of fate Jemma is in a serious car accident on the way to her first day back at work after her honeymoon, nineteen days after marrying the love of her life. She is critical but after a heartbreaking wait she awakes, with total amnesia.

Nineteen is a significant number for Braxton and Jemma, it has been present in all the biggest moments of their lives. The way it is woven into even the most heartbreaking moments is extremely well done.

Jemma’s amnesia is something they can’t fix, there isn’t a rehab for the mind. There is an intensive physical rehab program that Jemma undertakes but only time will answer the questions of whether her memories will return.

Nineteen Letters is told from the dual perspectives of Braxton and Jemma so we get to see how this situation is affecting each of them. Braxton is devastated that the love of his life has absolutely no memory of him, all he wants is to wrap her in his arms and take her home but he is a complete stranger to her.

Jemma struggles with these people who tell her they were once so close and she can see the pain in them at ever step but she just can’t remember. There is just nothing there and she’s not sure how to move forward. The whole amnesia storyline is totally horrific to comprehend and I guess not something I have ever given significant thought too, like what would you remember in terms of just living and that was something sensitively explored by Perry. Jemma doesn’t know what she liked or didn’t, no places are familiar and to present her with a menu was terrifiying.

Those closest to her stand by and help through Jemma’s recovery in the hospital and rehab facility; and though she doesn’t remember them she is thankful they are so good to her. On release from rehab she decides to return to her mother’s house, devastating Braxton who couldn’t comprehend the idea of returning home without her.

Unwilling and unable to give up on this once in a lifetime love Braxton writes letters to Jemma detailing events from their shared past. Through his letters he offers an insight into their lives through the years, along with a memory bracelet he builds by sending charms relevant to the letters.

Braxton’s letters encompass their shared history, and that of their families, so we get an intimate look at the relationships that surround them. We learn the stories of both sets of parents and also Jemma’s grandparents as they unfold in Braxton’s letters; each of them signed “What we had is far too beautiful to be forgotten”.

I managed to get through the book without tissues but it is certainly one to tug on the heartstrings. The beauty of their love story, through nineteen years of friendship into lovers; the heartbreak of the accident and a love cut short; the lengths Brax will go to for the love of his life and the loneliness of Jemma’s amnesia.

Perry takes us through Jemma’s recovery and how she needs to learn to live again, she has to come to terms with the fact that she may never regain her past but that just means she needs to make the most of her future.

She may not remember the people surrounding her and the relationships she had with them but over time she forges new relationships, they may never share the same memories but they will create a host of new ones.

Nineteen Letters is a beautiful love story of never giving up. It is first and foremost the story of Brax and Jemma but it’s also the story of everyone around them. I’m not going to tell you what happens, you really need to read it for yourself. I will tell you that you can’t help but hope Braxton gets his happily ever after.

The characters are well developed and I was invested in the secondary characters, and Jemma’s relationships with them, as much as I was with Brax and Jemma. I think the amnesia was the most intriguing element, knowing the memories are gone but the feelings of familiarity and the always wondering why you are drawn to certain things remains.

Nineteen Letters is book #34 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.

Jodi Perry loves to hear from her readers and you can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

We also have Jodi Perry on call from August 28-September 1 in our Ask An Author segment so if you have a question for her head over and ask in our Ask An Author post.

Nineteen Letters is published by Hachette Australia and is available now from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia, Amazon AU, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play and where all good books are sold.


35 thoughts on “Book Club: Nineteen Letters

  1. Let me start by saying I absolutely loved this book!

    I have not read a lot of Nicholas Spark’s books, but I love the movies, so when I heard the reviews stating that Nineteen Letters was similar I was even more excited to read it! In fact, whilst reading Nineteen Letters, I was already casting the movie adaptation!

    I love stories about childhood best friends falling in love and this book did not disappoint. Although I have heard of some people saying that Braxton was a little ‘whipped’, in the tradition of Nicholas Sparks, the hero of this story was everything a girl wants in a man! Even when Jemma didn’t want to know him, he didn’t give up and continued to put his heart on the line.

    Getting to know their past through the letters was a very creative and awesome way to create a backstory. It created a little bit of a dilemma though – the chapters were just the right length and the writing flowed beautifully, but it made it very difficult to put down!

    This was the first one of Jodi’s books I have read but I look forward to reading lots more!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to write this. I’ve never read a Nicholas Sparks book either, although my publisher just sent me a few. I recently watched The Notebook on my flight home from America in March, and cried my eyes out. It’s the only movie I’ve watched of his. The protagonists in my other stories are very alpha, so I enjoyed writing a male lead that had a softer side to him. I’d love to know who you would cast if it was ever made into a movie.

  2. This book was the ultimate tribute to a beautiful love story. It had all the element of love, tragedy and hope. The story looks at the lives of two young people who fall in love and have all of the elements of a great love story to suddenly befall the tragedy of an accident which leaves Jemma without any recollection of her greatest love Braxton. This story shows what the power of love can overcome in great adversity. The book has you smile, laugh and wonder what such a love could be like. It takes you into the story which is a hard concept for many writers to achieve but you actually feel like you are part of the story watching it unfold and you feel the pain of the characters as they strive to overcome this memory loss to get back what they have temporarily lost.

    The story is so well written detailing the fragility of life and love. I liked the way the story developed to mend many relationships along the way including the parents being able to look past their own difficulties to develop a new relationship.

    The letters were beautifully written tugging on many heartstrings with the intent to bring past and forgotten memories to the front of Jemma’s mind, a true out pouring of love to tenderly remind her of the love they share and shared.

    This book will take you on a journey of self discovery and have your look at your own relationship and try to bring a little of this unabashed love into your own life. A magnificent read for anyone wanting to really “feel” the characters and the struggles and love they face while trying to rebuild some sort of future.

    A definite book to keep and cherish forever thank you Jodi Perry … look forward to reading more of your stories.

  3. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Hachette Australia for giving me this book to read.

    Thank you also to Jodi Perry for writing a story that touches every one who reads it.

    Love. This story is all about love and the never ending love you have for those you hold close.
    Family, Family never give up on you even when you don’t know who they are.
    Friends. Friendship is the first ‘other’ bond we make aside from loving our family.
    Never giving up……..

    Braxton and Jemma have been friends forever.
    They have the perfect love, the perfect house, the perfect life and then tragedy strikes.
    There is an accident. Jemma is in a coma and finally she awakes.
    The most unimaginable thing has happened…..Jemma doesn’t remember.
    Jemma doesn’t remember her family. Jemma doesn’t remember her best friend.
    Saddest of all is Jemma doesn’t rememer Braxton. Not the boy she met, not the lives they’ve shared,
    not the love they shared nothing.
    Jemma has to start all life all over again while everyone around her wants her back to before and want to help her remember they can’t. How can strangers help you when you’re not sure of anything anymore.

    Braxton is not about to give up on getting the love of his life back and comes up with an idea.
    That idea is to write Jemma letters. Each letter is a piece of their past. Braxton writes about their life story in each letter.

    Those letters. Those letters are what takes you through the story. As Braxton writes his letters to Jemma we get to discover who they are and the path their lives have taken.

    This was an amazing way to follow along and such a clever idea.
    It meant that as she was reading the letters we were falling in love with their love story.

    This is the love we all dream about.

    This story is too beautiful to ever be forgotten.
    Jodi Perry, I had to put it in somewhere.

  4. In desperation to get to the end , I found I devoured this from front to back. Jodi Perry has given us a captivating story line that will pull at your heartstrings, bring forth many emotions and have you marveling at such a breathtaking tale of love and obstacles. How even in the darkest of moments true love finds its way even if its to remind, rekindle and refind love again.

    My thoughts.. 5 stars but why not 19 !!! its worth every star !

    If the love of your life had no memory of you … What would you do?

    Jodi Perry has penned a story that will not only make you wander what you would do – if your true love forgot who you were but at how Braxtons love and faith got him his ever after.

    Even after a horrific accident and the loss of his love in more ways then one. He still reminded her in every letter, about there love and moments. Challenges but never forgot to remind her of his loss and there love.

    You will read one letter at a time – not one chapter. You will absorb every word on paper .. We will see the memories brought forth and you wont budge Until you have turned that last page.

    Soggy tissue in the end, but you heart feeling, full, sad happy yet fulfilled.

    We watch Jemma fall in love all over again and this alone was truly amazing how Jodi penned this story.

    With her vivid imagery, and her wonderfully delivered story Nineteen letters will be a love story you will certainly remember way after the book has finished.

    I don’t think I ever wished for a happily ever after like I did with this story.

    Braxton reached into my chest and ripped it open = so many emotions within the story. With such perseverance and love Jodi delivered us yet another book boyfriend. One that we certainly wont forget any time soon. A love story you will tell others, share with others and even read time and time again .

    Jodi created her characters with such depth and definition you cant help but be immersed in the story . Even the story of Braxtons dad had me invested. So many wonderful characters within the story.

    One of my favourite quotes.

    “She may no longer remember the love we share, or everything we’ve been through together, but I do. Every moment…Every second…I carry enough love for the both of us.”

    Nineteen Letters is a mans fight to win his true love back, his unwavering devotion and love that even after darkness fights the light.

  5. An absolute gem!

    Nineteen Letters by Jodi Perry is such an amazing well-written book, I can’t stop thinking about it. In the theme of Nicholas Sparks’ novel, The Notebook , this novel focusses on love and tragic loss and the consequences of in an instant, losing something or someone you love.

    Jemma and Braxton are two newly married soul mates who are deeply in love and hate being apart. When Jemma is seriously hurt in a tragic car accident, she loses her memory and has no recollection of her time with or her deep love for Braxton.

    This is more than just a love story. The author has written this deeply moving novel beautifully. I could not stop crying, especially in the first part of the book. Jodi’s ability to extract my emotions using words is a testament to her excellent writing skills.

    Thank you so much Beauty and Lace and Hachette for the opportunity to read this amazing book and thank you Jodi for my signed copy of your book. I look forward to reading more novels written by you.

    To everybody else, Nineteen Letters is a book I thoroughly recommend.

  6. The number nineteen is very special to Jemma and Braxton. They met on the nineteenth, they got married on the nineteenth, they live at number nineteen… and Jenna’s accident happened nineteen days after their wedding.

    After the accident, Jemma doesn’t remember anything about her life, including her husband Braxton. Through a series of letters, nineteen in total, we get a glimpse into their lives before the accident, and see how things change between the couple.

    This story is truly beautiful. It evokes a strong range of feelings, including love, happiness, sadness, and everything in between. Jodi truly has a way with words, which draw you into the story and really make you feel.

    The story also makes you think about what is important in life. Braxton embodies what I aspire to: he’s dedicated to his family and friends above all else. He’s thoughtful, emotional and selfless.

    I am so glad that this story has a very happy ending – it’s the kind of book that you know will end well, but it’s always great to come to the end, and be able to close the book feeling a little more cheerful.

  7. From the moment the accident happened in the pouring rain I knew the tissues would have to come out ! What a beautiful love story reliving the life that was lost in the accident. What a terrible thing it is to loose the person you love the most in the world, even more terrible if they are standing right in front of you and don’t know who you are!! This book captures your heart and you can’t let go until the very last page. We Should all remember the life we’ve shared every day and how lucky we are in our lives. Beautiful book everyone should read it xxxx

  8. What a lovely story! I have read other books by Jodi Perry and also enjoyed them, this one was no exception.
    I found the storyline easy to read and it was easy to negotiate the chapters being told from different points of view of each character. I found some spelling errors which I’m sure will be picked up as part of the review process, and I found the cover of the novel strange that it did not actually have the title of it on the front but I presume that this is because it was a review copy.
    I would highly recommend this book to anyone and I enjoyed it a lot, thankyou.

  9. If only we could all have a love story like this one. To be loved by such a genuine man ” Braxton ” is something every woman dreams of and Gemma had it all until that fateful night of the accident But through all his nineteen letters Gem got to live all her treasured memories all over again. It was such an enjoyable book.
    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Hachette for the opportunity to read and review the copy of Jodi Perry’s Nineteen Letters

  10. Wow is all I could say when I finally put the back down. It had me from start to finish.
    Nineteen Letters is such a beautiful love story that certainly brought out the tears in me.
    Seeing Jemma and Braxton’s relationsh develop from a young age was beautiful to watch unfold only for the accident to tear everything apart.
    Having Braxton write the 19 letters to Jemma so she could relive her past was so beautiful to read, especially when watching her fall in love with him all over again.
    This book definitely tugged at the heartstrings and I highly recommend it.
    Well done Jodi Perry

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