Release Date: April 4th, 2017
Trigger Warnings: school shooting joke, grief, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, car accident, cheating, the death of a sibling, the death of a parent, alcoholism
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: contemporary, young adult, romance
Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.
Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.
When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.
R E V I E W
Fun fact, I read the second book (More Than We Can Tell) before Letters To The Lost. However, I am posting this review before the other because I am still mildly embarrassed by my screw up (seriously, how did I manage to read the second book before the first when Goodreads clearly labels them?!) Brigid Kemmerer is one of the most talented authors I have stumbled across. The way she writes grief and the connection between characters is something that really speaks to me. I haven’t experienced loss of someone I deeply love and I know I am lucky, but this book really brought to the surface what those emotions are. With Declan still recovering from the incident that killed his sister and Juliet having lost her mother in the past six months. The pair makes an unlikely match but I found it very easy to connect with the characters through the authors writing. This book explores grief, depression and panic attacks in such a deep and remorseful way. There is no ‘cure’ from Declan and Juliet coming together and I think that’s what made me enjoy this book so much.
What is Letters of the Lost about though? Declan Murphy is on court-ordered community service for getting drunk and driving his car into a building. His work means working at the local cemetery and helping the man who tends to the grounds. One day he comes across a letter sitting on a headstone and it speaks to him. He writes a simple response and suddenly a conversation is formed between the pair of their shared tragedies. Juliet Young writes letters for her mother. It was how they talked when she was alive and she keeps the tradition in her grief. In their everyday life, these two are not friends. If anything, they hate each other and it is clear in the few interactions between each other. The pair shares secrets of what they’re going through with each other, hoping the anonymity of the letters will allow them to be safe. Unfortunately for the pair sparks begin to fly and thus becomes the trouble of working out how to deal with the ‘who’ is on the other end.
I’m going to preface this before I go into what I didn’t like about Letters To The Lost by Brigid Kemmerer, my feelings on this book are a mess. I truly can barely even begin to describe what I did and didn’t like about this book. The characters are bitchy (love) but the female friendships are messy (hate), there is simply a contradiction of everything I like that in retrospect makes it seem as if this books should be sitting at a two star read for me. I really enjoyed this book, and the fact I read it in one day really makes it all that more enjoyable for me. So, what I’m saying is, ignore the mess that is my likes and dislikes and just pick up this book.
what I did like
✗ JULIET WASNT LIKEABLE
I love an unlikeable character. The depth they add to a story and the fact they simply never care is something I crave in books. I really love the fact that Brigid Kemmerer decided to write Juliet’s character this way. Throughout the whole book this doesn’t change either. Juliet remains slightly uptight that I love. I was worried that the author would have Juliet change to fit the delicate female mold. I want to mention my dislike here (because it’s not long) that the author writes the exact same female characters. I’ll go into this more on my review for book two, but the unlikeable female characters seems to be a common theme in this series.
✗ DECLAN HAS A HEARTBREAKING STORY
Obviously the big catch with both Juliet and Declan is that they have heartbreaking stories in which the grief is consuming. At first we simply feel for Juliet, since her grief is so at the surface. Declan, on the other hand, is struggling internally and silently. As we chip away at the layers of Declan’s story and more comes to light, I really struggled with keeping my emotions in check. I won’t say too much because I want to avoid spoilers, but the anger I feel over his story and the part people played is very sad to me.
✗ LOVED THE INCLUSION ABOUT CARS
I love when characters have hobbies or passions. I’m not into cars but both my mum and younger sister are. I’ve grown up hearing about the names of cars, the parts of cars, and how to fix cars all while never touching a car. Whenever a book has a big focus on cars though I always get excited because it’s something I grew up with and can understand, whereas in some of the books I’ve read science is the hobby and I know nothing. I think the author did a really good job of adding another layer to her book by including this hobby for Declan (and photography for Juliet).
✗ THE WRITING IS INCREDIBLE
How else can I say this without sounding redundant? The writing of this is spectacular. I know that it is 100% not up everyone’s alley but it was up mine. I can’t even describe why I loved the writing but it simply connected to me on another level.
✗ CHARACTERS ACTUALLY SOUND LIKE TEENS
A lot of the time in YA you can tell an adult wrote the book and doesn’t really understand how teenagers talk. In Letters To The Lost it really felt to me as if these characters were in their late teens in high school. The individual voices of both Declan and Juliet really spoke out through the story and allowed them to act their age. I give the author major props for this.
what I didn’t like
✗ THE FEMALE BEST FRIEND DISAPPEARED
This was really weird. It seemed the author forced a relationship for the best friend of Juliet (really, there was no connection between her and the guy) and shoved her off into a corner. It really felt as if the author wanted to isolate her – which is something I noticed in book two as well. These two characters are meant to be best friends but it seemed that as soon as a guy came along the friendships were over. It really frustrated me while reading Letters To The Lost because I am such a massive fan of female friendships in fiction.
Overall, I’m going to end my review here. Letters To The Lost was a powerful book about friendship, love, acceptance, grief and ultimately moving on. It’s a book in which the two characters don’t need each other and simply support one another. The characters in this book don’t rely on sex or love as the push for moving on, which is so important. I saw a few people say they recommend this if you like All The Bright Places and Eleanor & Park but honestly no. I recommend this book if you want a good cry. If you enjoyed this book I also recommend reading A List of Cages by Robin Roe.
Happy reading everyone!
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