Book Talk: Words & Their Meanings by Kate Bassett

Book Talk: Words & Their Meanings by Kate BassettWords & Their Meanings by Kate Bassett
Published by Flux on September 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!




Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”


Anna O’Mally doesn’t believe in the five stages of grief. Her way of dealing with death equates to daily bouts of coffin yoga and fake-tattooing Patti Smith quotes onto her arms. Once a talented writer, Anna no longer believes words matter, until shocking discoveries– in the form of origami cranes– force her to redefine family and love.

As Anna goes in search of the truth, she discovers that while every story, every human being, has a last line, it might still be possible to find the words for a new beginning”

a2MAN, I wanted to connect more so I could have really FELT this emotional story.

a4I’m conflicted about this one because I can’t say I was SUPER drawn into it and it was a bit slow for the first half but it was a beautiful book in so many ways.  I loved the piercing story of grief it told. Anna’s grief is real and alive and she wears it in a way that everyone knows. She’s so inside herself and tormented by her grief that she can’t really let herself live after the loss of her “bruncle” Joe (technically an uncle but more like her brother). She’s the kind of character where you FEEL for her but she frustrates you in the way she does her family members and friends. I FELT THAT.

The “mystery” aspect that comes into play when she finds a note, that suggests she didn’t quite know Joe as well as she thought, didn’t really pick up until the second half and that part REALLY drew me when it finally got somewhere.   I think setting up Anna’s grief and family situation, while important, just dawdled a little bit too much for me and I was just holding on until I got to that element that would drive the plot and Anna forward. I love character driven books but I was struggling with her so I needed that plot to engage me a little more.

As a reader I could just FEEL the holes in the fractured family and I thought the people in Anna’s world were VERY fleshed out which I LOVED. I did GUESS the mystery’s outcome but not in a way that made it a dud for me. This book is quiet in the way it reads but OH THE ACHE IS LOUD AND PULSING and her journey back into LIVING her life was hard yet beautiful to watch. Also, I dogeared a lot because the writing is fantastic. Like really fantastic. I WISH I would have connected a little bit more considering how emotional this novel WAS but this was a good book that I WOULD recommend to people who don’t mind a bit of a slower, quiet novel.

factors+ writing, aching portrayal of grief, the plot
I didn’t FEEL as much as I should have, some boredom in the first half

Re-readability: Probably not.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Because it wasn’t a favorite or a reread, unfortunately no.

a5people who like quiet & slower books, readers of stories that deal with grief, fans of a little mystery, people who want beautifully written books, people who like stories about writers

a8I think that what would have made my rating on this one SOAR to the higher scale would have been having some sort of emotional response. I can recognize the emotional nature of the story with Anna’s grief and discovering new pieces to her uncle and SEE that it is written in a way that, at times, did make my heart ache but I never felt that “in my bones” emotional response. The first half was REALLY slow for me too but when it finally picked up for me it was worth it. I loved the exploration of grief and this idea that we only have our own pieces to the existence of someone we love even though it might seem we have seen the whole of them.

review-on-post-itWords & Their Meanings by Kate Bassett


a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does this book feel like something you’d be into?


The Perpetual Page-Turner


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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I have a hard time getting into a story when the beginning drags. Like you mentioned, I understand that creating that palpable grief is important, sometimes it gets to the point where you just want to get it over with. I love books like this but they have to grab me pretty quickly or else I get bogged down and keep putting it off. I’ll make it through a chapter and then find something else to do instead.

    • Yeah, I was really kind of bored in the beginning which I think put a dark cloud over the whole story even when it got better? I don’t need to go 0 to 60 in the beginning but complete boredom? EEP. Such a shame because it got really good!

  2. This sounds like it’s trying hard to be “Tell the Wolves I’m Home” which I loved. I will have to pass cause I know I’d be comparing it the entire time!
    (I accidentally posted this same comment in the wrong spot under the “reviews” tab so please feel free to delete that there:)

    • Ah I’ve read Tell The Wolves I’m Home! LOVED IT SO MUCH. Now that I think about it the summary totally DOES sound reminiscent of it. It really IS a lot different though. I hadn’t even though about it until you mentioned it. I will say out of the two, Tell the Wolves is WAYYY better.

  3. I’m sorry you weren’t able to connect emotionally with the main character! That’s often what makes or breaks my feels for a novel, really. That being said, I do find that I’m very interested in novels that depict grief. It’s always interesting to see different takes on it, as everyone goes through grief and all the other emotions too in very different ways.

  4. Annalee Ferguson says:

    I absolutely loved this book. It reminds me a little bit of “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson, in the way of the reader keeping a secret and letting it dominate their lives. I also love the book Speak, and so that made me have a little pre-existing connection to the situation. I do agree that it started out slow and boring, but as it got on I could not put it down. I did feel the ache of Anna in my bones, maybe just because I’m 16 and named Anna. After I finished (with many many many tears) I felt like refreshed almost and like I had a new start. Almost immediately after finishing, I picked up a pen and underlined passages out of the book that really stood out to me (library book oops) and even put some on Tumblr. Needless to say this has moved in with Speak as my favorite book ever and plan on buying the now written in copy from the library to go more in depth into and try to find more beautifully written passages and of course re-read again and again and again. Thank you so much for giving your opinion on it, I throughly enjoyed reading yours and everyboys else who commenteds. xoxo Anna

    • Yes totally has a vibe of Speak! So happy you loved this and it affected you like that! LOVE when you make that special connection to a book!