Reviews

Letters to the Lost – Brigid Kemmerer

February 14, 2018

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
 

TITLE: Letters to the Lost
AUTHOR: Brigid Kemmerer
SERIES: Letters to the Lost, #1
RELEASED: April 4th, 2017; Bloomsbury Children
GENRE: Contemporary
AGE RANGE: YA
SYNOPSIS: 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.

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I’d heard somewhat mixed reviews from my friends on this book, but after learning that the ARC of Brigid’s I’d been approved for, More Than We Can Tell, is meant to be read after this one, I decided to go ahead and read it – and I couldn’t put it down. Don’t get me wrong, Letters is an incredibly sad story filled with grief, pain, and regret, but there’s also something tremendously heart-warming and comforting in Brigid’s writing.

“What you wrote implies that you understand agony. I don’t think you do. If you did, you wouldn’t have interfered with mine.”

lttlsm

I’m such a sucker for romances and friendships that form through written correspondence, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it done while being intermingled with an enemies-to-lovers trope, and this book executes it in such a fun, captivating way. From the start, Juliet and Declan can hardly stand each other – Juliet is self-absorbed and terrified of his large stature and stoic, harsh mannerisms, while Declan has written her off as just another pretty girl who thinks she’s out of his league.

“When everything goes to hell around you, the only way to go is forward.”

While I honestly loved Declan from the beginning – I have such a soft spot for angsty, hurting “bad boys” – Juliet was fairly unlikable at the start, mostly due to the way she treats the people around her. She’s hurting, and her mother’s passing is recent, so she lashes out constantly, whether it’s at Declan, her father, or her friends. The thing about her behavior, though, is you can’t help but empathize for her even when she’s at her worst.

“One day isn’t your whole life. A day is just a day.”

It takes some time for Juliet to come around, but Declan is the shining star of character development in this story, if you ask me. In the beginning, he’s at the edge of a cliff, and it’s taking everything in him to make it through one day at a time. He’s living with guilt that nobody should bear, being harassed by his step-father and forgotten by his mother in the wake of his younger sister’s passing. There were moments in his narrative where I was so worried about what would happen to him, but he becomes so strong, and under all the pain and rage is this mushy little teddy bear that just wants to protect the people he loves.

Sometimes I think fate conspires against us. Or maybe fate conspires with us.

Of course, I can’t review this book without talking about Declan’s best friend, Rev, who is hilarious, awkward, precious, and a delightful addition to every scene he’s in. I loved his character so much, and I didn’t realize until after finishing this book that he’s the star of the follow-up story, so now I’m twice as excited for that one as I already was. I can’t wait to see where life takes him next, and to get to know him and his sordid past a little bit better.

“You’re okay,” he says again. I like that, how he’s so sure. Not, “Are you okay?” No question about it. You’re okay.

If you enjoy YA contemporaries about grief and healing, or if you’re just like me and you can’t resist a good falling-in-love-through-emails trope, pick this one up right away – you won’t regret it.

5flakes

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No Comments

  • Reply The Darlings Diary February 14, 2018 at 11:04 am

    AH I LOVED THIS BOOK! I received it last year when it first came out and finished it in no time. I am so glad you like it!

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries February 14, 2018 at 2:14 pm

      It was absolutely wonderful! It was so sweet and sad and precious. I’m reading the ARC of the sequel right now and loving it just as much.

  • Reply Scrill February 14, 2018 at 11:06 am

    Okay, after reading your appreciation for friendship built through a written medium I think you should edit your DTTBRH decision to remove P.S. I Like You….It’s a little (a lot) more upbeat than this (and granted has some high school cliqueish stuff) but is still friendship through emails.
    I am so jealous you have Rev’s book as an ARC! I adore him.

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries February 14, 2018 at 2:15 pm

      Oooooh, I didn’t know that! Dammit… lol! Okay, back on the TBR it goes. <3
      I got halfway through it last night and had to FORCE myself to put it down and go to sleep, lol! It's so good. He is just so precious and such a little cinnamon roll, I swear. <3

  • Reply Kathy @ Books & Munches February 14, 2018 at 11:17 am

    Skimmed this since I literally just started reading it. Not even 40 pages in and I was already tearing up a bit so… that’s promising?😂

  • Reply 5171 Miles Book Blog February 14, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    I cannot wait to read this. -Ashley

  • Reply Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku February 16, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    YES! Epistolary novels are basically my favorite format of literature. I could read them forever. This is a new book for me, but thanks to you I’ve added it to my TBR. I cannot wait to pick it up. How did this book fall on your radar, Destiny?

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries February 16, 2018 at 7:28 pm

      You know, funny enough, Jackie, this one actually found its way to my TBR because I was able to get an an ARC of her upcoming release, More Than We Can Tell, and didn’t realize it was a spin-off until I’d already downloaded the eARC! Once I did, I figured I had to read this one first, so I hunted it down. 🙂 I haven’t heard a ton about it, still, but it was so good that I hope it will gain more notoriety!

      • Reply Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku March 5, 2018 at 5:28 pm

        Haha– that has happened to me more times than I care to admit, sadly. I don’t mean to request second (third, fourth…) books in series, but I do it far too often on NetGalley.
        I’m so glad that you found a wonderful read in this adventure. Hopefully the rest of the series will speak just as much to you!

  • Reply More Than We Can Tell — Brigid Kemmerer (ARC Review) – howling libraries February 26, 2018 at 11:02 am

    […] the absolute delight that was Letters to the Lost – and, even more, considering how much I adored Rev’s character in that book – I thought […]

  • Reply Wrap-up & Book Haul: [Fantastic] February – Books & Munches March 2, 2018 at 1:55 am

    […] is creating a Book Community Media Dashboard so be sure to add your own! I loved Destiny’s @ Howling Libraries review on Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer! Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek tells us why you […]

  • Reply Best of 2018: CONTEMPORARY! – howling libraries January 25, 2019 at 3:30 pm

    […] 10. Letters to the Lost — Brigid Kemmerer (review) […]

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