Books Chick Lit contemporary fiction Realistic Fiction Romance Young Adult

Letting people in and opening up in Lauren Barnholdt’s “Through to You”

There are different reasons for reading a story. Sometimes we read them to transport us to somewhere away from our current loves; sometimes we read to be reminded that we’re not alone. There are also times that we read a book because we need to hear that kind of story. But there are those moments when we read because we simply want to, and it’s these times that we want something easy, something lighthearted and enjoyable to read. That was what Through to You by Lauren Barnholdt was for me.

It starts with a scribbled note in class: “I like your sparkle.” Harper had casually threaded a piece of blue and silver tinsel through her ponytail in honor of school spirit day. And that carefree, corny gesture is what grabs Penn Mattingly’s eye. Penn—resident heartbreaker of the senior class. Reliably unreliable. Trouble with a capital “T.” And okay, smolderingly sexy.

Harper’s surprised by Penn’s attention—and so is Penn. The last thing he needs is a girlfriend. Or even a friend-with-benefits. The note is not supposed to lead to anything.

Oh, but it does. They hang out. They have fun. They talk. They make out. And after a while, it seems like they just click. But Penn and Harper have very different ideas about what relationships look like, in no small part because of their very different family backgrounds. Of course they could talk about these differences—if Penn knew how to talk about his feelings.

Harper and Penn understand their attraction is illogical, yet something keeps pulling them together. It’s like a crazy roller coaster—exhilarating,terrifying, and amazing all at once. And neither knows how to stop the ride.


I’m a total sucker for a love story, so when I was in the mood for a good book, a romance novel was obviously my first port of call. Something nice and easy to read that didn’t require too much concentration, but still with a good plot and storyline that kept me reading and kept things interesting. That’s exactly what I got in Barnholdt’s Through to You. It was a novel I really enjoyed, and didn’t require my constant full intention to follow what was happening. I read it in one sitting, and felt like the ending was satisfying.

With it being a nice easy read, I didn’t need to delve too deep to find the deeper meaning of Through to You. Barnholdt made the message in her story clear to her readers, and it’s one that I believe her target audience (young adults) should hear. The message that we can’t keep everything bottles up inside us; we need to let people in and open up to them.

What Through to You teaches us, is that bottling everything up only creates problems for ourselves and our loved ones. It causes problems for the people we love and those who love us when we can’t open up our hearts to them and let them in. But bottling everything up and keeping things to ourselves we push away the ones that we love.

Sometimes we do this because we are afraid to let someone see the deepest parts of ourselves; because we’re afraid to love. What Barnholdt remind us is that the more you try to protect yourself from love, the more pain you bring to yourself and those that love you.

Near the end of the novel, Harper talks about the pain she’s in because the person she loved can’t, or won’t, open up to her when she she’s her friend doing the same thing. She says:

“I want to yell at her that she’s being just as fake as Penn, that she’s not letting her feelings out, and that if you hold everything inside, you end up with broken hearts and misunderstandings.”
— Lauren Barnholdt, Through to You

We need to open up to the ones we love, we need to tell them our problems, our hopes, our dreams, our fears, the things that make us happy and the things that weight down our hearts. Otherwise, what’s the point? If we don’t, we only end up pushing away the ones we love, and pushing love away.

If you ask me, there is no excuse good enough to ever be out of alignment with love. Because you’re going to get hurt, and you will feel pain. Yet your purpose is to keep loving, anyway. To keep moving forward with an open heart. Love is a gift, and wasting it is no longer an option. It brings light to a dark place; pushing it away and doing things that push our loved ones away is the real pain.

Because in the end, love is the only thing that really makes us feel better. It may not take away our pain but it heals it. And when we open up to the people we love it’s not a burden, it’s a relief. Both to us, when we let it out, and to them, so they know we trust them to handle whats inside of us.

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