Book Review – 53 Letters For My Lover by Leylah Attar

by Maryse on September 25, 2014 · 23 comments

in My Book Reviews

53 Letters For My Lover
Here’s a book that has been on my “TBR list” since July, and I totally should have read it sooner! That blurb sounded emotionally, romantically angsty, and I knew it would take me right out of my comfort zone (which I absolutely love, when reading). But somehow, I kept passing it up.

It had come HIGHLY recommended a few times…

Diane: I HIGHLY recommend 53 letters, me and my reading buddy can’t get it out of our heads a week later and there’s a free companion novella ‘From his lips’. Angst to the max and so beautifully written. Also surprisingly explicit.

Andee: I loved 53 letters too!!! **** is just so great…. That’s all I’m going to say. :)

Diane: 53 letters!! SO intense and beautifully written! Good thing my hubby can’t see this bc that and The Last Letter from Your Lover: A Novel by Jojo are my 2 faves this year, he might be concerned LOL

Maryse: Yeahhhhhh 53 Letters sounds SOOOOO GOOD!!!!! Adding that one to the top of my TBR list…

Sophia: I loved 53 Letters for my Lover! I couldn’t put it down!!!

This part of the blurb totally did it for me. I just knew we’d be “in” for it, ’cause it has that “Arsen” feel, if you know what I mean (just not as tumultuous and… wrong-feeling). A much more understandable, gentle approach. And I know this reading subject matter is not for everyone…

…the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect daughter. For thirty-three years, she has played by the rules, swallowing secrets, burying dreams and doing whatever it takes to anchor her family. Shayda Hijazi is about to come face to face with the one thing that can rip it all apart, the one thing she has always been denied: love.

How could I not put it on my reading list? But I *squirreled*, and it’s only when I saw it mentioned again (in passing) last week on in my Facebook feed that I jumped on it for good. A reader mentioning to her friends… something along the lines that she couldn’t get enough of this one. She loved it, and I think she even re-read it. And once I finally decided to read it, I could barely put it down. Mind you, it took me about the first 30-35% of the book to really get into it (the beginning, laying down the foundation of their connections, their personal traumas, getting to know the characters, their customs, etc…). But once I hit that 30%-ish area, I was IN!

Amy: …started 53 Letters, which so far at 25% is good with a buildup between the past and present which is pacing well.

Maryse: I need more emotional action, angst and passion and intensity, right now… So now I’m trying 53 letters.

Amy: I’m at 70% of 53 Letters, and I have no idea how this is going to end. It’s definitely not on an Arsen level, but I’m still a little apprehensive as to if/when it is all going to blow up. Bracing myself here…

Maryse: …it’s good! First 30% is a bit slow as we get to know the characters and their connections, but soon after that it gets emotionally intense and pretty much stays that way (at least so far)…

Jean: I am just finishing 53 Letters For My Lover and I just love it! OMG I am feeling everything in this book… my heart is pounding….so different, great writing…yep heading for a book fog!

Amy: I can’t stand when a main character in a book gets cheated on by their guy, and yet I like to read books like Arsen and 53 Letters where the main character is the one doing that. But I’m going to steal Maryse’s tagline again: In books…ONLY in books. ;)

Jean: I hate cheating! But 53 Letters is different….. I accepted it from the beginning for some reason.

Amy: I finished 53 Letters and while it was no Arsen (I swear that book has ruined me for all other books like it), and for me the angst wasn’t near as high, it still packed a good punch straight to the ovaries. Buh-bam! Both sides.

Jean: Oh and I can’t stop thinking about 53 Letters For My Lover…… and it’s days later… love when that happens!

Maryse: I ended up loving Letters to my Lover! 4 to 4.5 stars… (still thinking about it…)

So what’s it about?

A… sort of… “arranged marriage”. Two damaged souls with terrible scars that have yet to heal. Two members of Iranian families living in Canada (families that consist of loving members, and monsters alike), with customs, and expectations, traditions that are expected to be upheld, but for two “modern Canadian-Iranian” adults, hard to live up to. But they form a sort of friendship bond, in their marriage. A trust and an understanding. A love… albeit a different kind than the all-consuming love we love to read about. And yet, most of her young to adult life, she has crossed paths with “Troy” the arrogant Canadian “playboy” that just won’t leave her alone.

“Are you happy, Shayda?” A second. That’s all it takes. A single beat of hesitation on my part.

And she doesn’t know if she wants him to…

Here I am, ten years later. Troy Heathgate is at my door.

Let me in.

I falter.

Sometimes I wonder how many worlds unfurled in that one second.

And how does one review a book like this? How can I love this kind of ”love story” so much, when in essence, it is everything that is vehemently wrong, in a commitment.

Our eyes lock.

What is this madness?

I don’t know. I don’t know.

But I did. With it’s gorgeous writing, exquisite detail and a thoughtful, cautious yet raw exploration of something that is absolutely illicit. I say “gentle” in it’s approach compared to other books of this genre, but not so gentle that you don’t actually feel it. You feel it. BIG TIME.

You feel her.

“Then leave him,” he says.

“I can’t. I can’t just leave him. He needs me.”

Troy’s jaw clenches. “You can’t leave him. You can’t leave me. You can’t handle the in-between. What do you want, Shayda?”

You feel him.

“You think I like waiting on the fringes of your life, wondering when I’ll see you?”

With the kind of detail that allows us to feel every stomach-butterfly, smile and soar, and yet in her private thoughts, experience the guilt and shame of it all.

“Are you afraid, Shayda?”

“Of…?” I swallow, wishing he’d go back to pretending we’re watching music videos.

“Of this? Of me?”


“Then what?”

“Of… me,” I reply.

It’s true. I don’t know this person lying beside him.

How can something so wrong, be so right?

They tell you that an affair destroys everything, that there are no winners, that there is only heartbreak. I know this. And still I do it. Still I take his face in my hands and kiss him until he returns my fierce, desperate kisses with a fervor that pushes everything else aside.

But in a way… it is. Both. Right and wrong.

And I’m going to let you discover that on your own. Come up with your own conclusions, experience the journey she took to get there, and the heartache and loneliness, the different kinds of love. It’s angsty, yet so eloquent in its portrayal. It hurts, it’s exhilarating…  it’s traumatizing, it’s wonderful.

And my heart still aches. In a good or bad way? Ah ah ahhhhh… I won’t say. ;) Shhhhhh…

4.5 stars!

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy September 25, 2014 at 1:09 PM

That sums it up perfectly. I said it before, but I’ll say it again…that lakeside cottage. *sigh and swooooon* ;)

Maryse September 25, 2014 at 1:17 PM

Wow… right??


Yep, I’m still thinking of this book a few days later, and going over all of my highlights… I realize I really loved it. This one’s going to stay with me.

Amy September 25, 2014 at 2:06 PM

You know, I had mentioned how I had a difficult time grasping the initial pull to each other after all that time and no real relationship to base it on (that’s not spoilery for those who have not read it yet ;) ), but the more I have thought about it and reflected on certain conversations and interactions with each other and all of the circumstances, the more I can see how it all developed between them.

Yep, this was definitely one that will stick with me as well. :)

Diane September 25, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Yay, Maryse! Amazing review, I’ve been dying to hear your thoughts on this one. I still think about it 2+ months later, def consider Jojo Moyes Last Letter from your lover when you’re in the mood for *this* kind of book again (;

Diane September 25, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Amy, I was drunk when I started it LOL so I had trouble too, I immediately reread the book and I felt it more and it was even better, it is a little tough to follow timeline wise, that would be my only criticism

Maryse September 25, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Agreed, Diane… at first, as I was settling “into” the writing style, and the characters, the timeline switches were a bit perplexing, but boy did it find it’s rhythm soon enough!

Maryse September 25, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Yep, Amy… I think that our issues with the initial “draw” between them were due to us trying to get to know everyone and their relevance, the timelines, and both of THEM at the same time…

Maryse September 25, 2014 at 2:16 PM

“Shaydahhhhh” < — I loved that!!! ;)

Diane September 25, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Troy is up there, he really came to life for me and I loved everything about him

Jean September 25, 2014 at 4:20 PM

Been waiting for your review of this one Maryse! So happy you loved it as much as I did! (I actually had chills and tears in my eyes as I read your review…I know, I’m pathetic)! This book is unforgettable!!!

Amy September 25, 2014 at 5:02 PM

“Shaydahhhhh” It made my heart hurt right along with hers when he said it and didn’t draw out the last part. :(

Amy September 25, 2014 at 5:10 PM

YEAH DIANE!!!!!! Drunk reading…I’m not the only one who does it!!! :D

*gasp* Look who showed up!! *eyes Jean* You’ve been hiding and I’m not happy… :P

Jean September 25, 2014 at 5:49 PM

Haha Amy! I missed you too! Been a little sick the last few days, but did manage to read OES…… what did you think? Camden or Javier…..I was straight up for Camden before, but there’s just something about Javier…I don’t know….hoping to start Shooting Scars tonight!

Anyone finish Unrequited? I was curious about that one!

Maryse September 25, 2014 at 7:31 PM

I haven’t read that one yet, Jean…

Amy September 25, 2014 at 9:16 PM

Hope you’re feeling better, Jean! I have no idea at this point who I want her with. There’s history and passion with Javier but he has such a dark side (and I would like to punch him in the junk so he can’t use it anymore, the jackass!!), but Camden is so sweet and would be good for her in getting away from all the dark stuff. *sigh* I’ll let you know where I stand when I finish SS.

You haven’t read it yet, Maryse? *scoff* Well, get on it already!! :P Just ignore me…feeling a little ornery right now!

Maryse September 25, 2014 at 11:05 PM

I read Javier… I LOVE Javier. We have a *thing* ;) Why do I always like the bad guys?


Andee September 26, 2014 at 1:12 AM

Awwww – GREAT review. I loved this book. And reading your review made me think of those special moments in this book. I agree that it took some time to get into the story at first, but once I was in, I was all the way in. The companion book is a great fast filler read – quick knock out and a little more of them. LOVE!!

Jean September 26, 2014 at 6:40 AM

I’m with you Maryse. ..I definitely fell forJavier in OES. Maybe that will change with Shooting Scars because he’s not very nice so far in the beginning.

Amy September 26, 2014 at 8:45 AM

A *thing*?!?!?!? That sounds so…so…scandalous!!! *whistling* Ooooh, you bad girl Maryse!!! :P I’m way too wound up for this early in the morning…

Jean, if you fell for him in OES then don’t expect it to change in Shooting Scars. I get Maryse’s “thing” with him. ;)

Jean September 26, 2014 at 10:26 AM

Hahaha! Yep I’m still loving Javier and all of his badassness!!!

I think I want to read Rules of Protection next….. Sounds like a nice light read unless I am compelled to continue Artists Trilogy!

Happy Friday everyone!!!! Beautiful weekend expected here on the East Coast!

Maryse September 26, 2014 at 12:17 PM

You know me and “scandalous” Amy… I can’t resist it!

Melinda September 27, 2014 at 11:31 PM

Oh maryse, just finished 53 letters 4my lover. I just loved it. The whole story was almost sad. Such a great recommendation. I would have given it 5 stars as the writing was so good.

Louise September 30, 2014 at 10:26 AM

I just finished 53 Letters for my Lover. I purchased solely because of Maryse’s 4 stars. I went in blind and wow! I absolutely loved it!! Had a Arsen (as you mentioned), Collide & Pulse feel to it. Did anyone catch the date on chapter 51 & think this will not end well….they were in NYC after all. Still swooning!!!

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