My twitter feed has been full of anticipation for Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn. I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Meg hand letters planners, invitations, wedding programs and such for clients. Her profile has recently gone up after being featured in the New York Times as The Planner of Park Slope. But as her professional profile has grown, she is losing her best friend for reasons she doesn’t understand and becoming blocked creatively. Reid Sutherland arrives at the stationary shop where she bases her business and confronts her about the code she included in his wedding program. The code spells out MISTAKE. Because of the code, the wedding never happened. Reid wants to know what Meg saw that made her send the message. Reid is a numbers guy. He sees patterns in numbers the way Meg sees signs in letters.
I keep walking, head up, and I feel as if I’m counting, noticing signs I’ve never looked at before, and that’s saying something. It soothes me in the same way it did back then, when I learned the city by walking it, by paying attention. I learned neighborhoods letter by letter, sign by sign. It’s how I got inspired; it’s how I fell in love with the city but also how I learned to make it here. …There are signs, I’m thinking, to the invisible Reid who won’t get out of my head. You just don’t know how to read them.
They cautiously start spending time together, her looking for a way out of her creative block, him for distraction, both because they feel lonely and isolated. They begin exploring New York City together. Meg starts in a place where she is feeling adrift, but she takes responsibility for fixing what is wrong in her life and actively works to make her life the one she wants to live. Meg is the main focus here and the other characters, her best friend, Reid, her work friends and clients all start out a bit fuzzy around the edges but come into greater focus as Meg learns how to connect as herself without the polite cheerful mask she has worn. I loved that Meg had the experience of undermining herself and taking ownership of her actions and the consequences. Through taking off the mask of politeness she becomes happier and the people in her life become more real. It has taken me years of therapy to get anywhere close to this level of self awareness.
I had an unusual experience while I was reading, I started seeing the story in panels as if it were a graphic novel or an animation that was unfolding. I don’t usually see stories (this is why I love a good film or tv adaptation), I feel them but I don’t see them. Love Lettering comes out on December 31, and will be a lovely gift to yourself as you move out of the holiday season.