More Than We Can Tell — Brigid Kemmerer (ARC Review)

February 26, 2018

More Than We Can Tell

TITLE: More Than We Can Tell
AUTHOR: Brigid Kemmerer
RELEASES: March 6th, 2018; Bloomsbury Children’s
GENRE: Contemporary
SYNOPSIS: Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay…until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.
Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.
When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling.


After 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 there was no way this book could be anything less than a home run for me. Unfortunately, I think I may have overestimated this one. I tried to write a standard review of this book, but honestly, there’s just not that much to say about it, so instead, I’ll give you a list of what I liked, and what I didn’t like.

That makes me smile. “I do what I can,” I whisper.
“Shh,” he says. “I’m texting with someone.”
I grin and slide my fingers across the screen.


→ what I liked ←

We get to spend a lot of time with Rev and learn more about his backstory, including some insight into his life as the child of an abusive pastor, and how religion and abuse have shaped him into who he is today.

• Emma offers fantastic insight into the life of a gamer girl, as well as the life of any female content creator in the gaming stratosphere, as we see her suffer harassment, unfair treatment, and unrealistic expectations – all of these fueled by the fact that she doesn’t hide her gender identity from the world.

• With Emma’s harassment comes a painfully realistic view of how men in the gaming community tend to treat women. A misstep isn’t even required from her to warrant lewd and horrific comments from the men playing the game she has created; her existence alone, her “intrusion” into the space these boys have called their own, is plenty to bring these attacks upon her.

• We also get some “nice guy” portrayals in a character who belligerently convinces himself that an act as simple as basic politeness to a woman means she somehow owes him her time, attention, and money.

• My favorite part of the book: we get to spend a bit of time with Declan as Rev seeks comfort and advice from him. In many books that I’ve read where characters had a cameo in a later story, it felt like the original characters had been changed to somehow fit this new “side character” mold, which is always really jarring, but Brigid Kemmerer doesn’t put Declan through that in the slightest; he’s still 100% who I knew and loved in Letters to the Lost.

I haven’t seen him in ten years, and one little note has me craving his approval.

→ what I disliked ←

• Am I imagining things, or does Brigid Kemmerer refuse to write enjoyable female characters? In Letters, Juliet had a terrible attitude and lashed out constantly, but at least her behavior was usually almost justifiable; Emma, on the other hand, is absolutely horrible to everyone she meets! She spends the entire book casting petty shade at her “best friend”, verbally attacking Rev for no reason whatsoever, and throwing herself a massive pity party.

• The weird love triangle was so unwelcome; despite Rev giving her every reason to like him, Emma has an unhealthy fascination with this online stranger. I could understand if there was ever any actual growth between the two of them, but the bulk of their conversations are just Emma repeatedly whining about her parents while Ethan offers quips like “It could be worse!” and “At least it isn’t as bad as my parents!”

• Emma’s attitude towards her best friend constantly revolves around saying rude things about her friend’s YouTube beauty channel, and Emma belittles the struggles that come with that hobby/business ceaselessly, which is not only catty and some serious girl-on-girl hate, but it also re-enforces this “geek” vs. “hot girl” dichotomy crap.

• Despite a tremendous amount of build-up to Rev’s issues with his father, the ending felt really… bizarre? Lackluster? Anti-climactic?

• I never found myself rooting for Emma and Rev, at all. In fact, I spent most of the book just hoping Rev would run far, far away and find someone who actually respected and cared for him.

• There’s a male side character who gets picked on with homophobic remarks, but we learn that he isn’t gay; instead, he has suffered horrible sexual assault from multiple men in his life and is being taunted for it. Despite his trauma apparently being widely known at the high school he attends, no real time is spent on getting him the help that he needs or stopping the assailants from continuing to do this to other boys, and the whole thing just felt like this poor child’s rape was being used as a plot device.

• We get to see Juliet for, like, five seconds, and in that five seconds, she does something kind of rude and intrusive, so, you know… not a great bonding moment – again, it strikes me as odd that she’s so poorly written, considering how great Declan was and the substantial amount of time we get to spend with him in this book.

When people dismiss him as crazy, I know they don’t understand. He wasn’t crazy. He was… deliberate. Calculated.

→ final thoughts ←
As you can see, unfortunately, my dislikes were much more prominent than my likes in this one. I wanted so desperately to love this book that, when I reached the 30% mark or so and realized there was no way it was redeeming itself enough for 5 stars, I honestly considered DNFing it and saving myself some of the disappointment. I’m not saying 3 stars is a terrible rating – there were still things to enjoy about Rev and Emma’s story, for sure! – but when I compare it to Letters, it just feels like a totally different author wrote this book.

All quotes are from an unfinished ARC and may not match the final release. Thank you to Bloomsbury Children’s for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!


More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

Leave a comment
    1. Awww man, this was one of my most anticipated, and it really sounds a little disappointing right now, it’s definitely moved down my list. 🙁

    1. I’m like.. *Why does commenting on a review of a book you just reviewed yourself as reviewing it again?*
      Anyway! I did like this novel but I think I was waaaay swept up in Rev to get annoyed by a lot of the things you didn’t like. I certainly understand your points though and reading them makes me realize you’re pretty much right in every one of them, but I just didn’t really notice? Like I said, way too swept up in Rev. :’)

    1. This book sounds good for the little things you could enjoy in it but yes, the dislikes are definitely more prominent. A rude attitude of a female protagonist, especially when unjustified, gets me super irked because it just shows how the author didn’t want to let the character appear three-dimensional by giving them just one set of unlikable emotion. Rev sounds good and I can understand how desperate we become as readers when the book couple is totally unshippable and we just want the more-deserving partner to run out of the scene, haha 😀 The whole girl-on-girl hate sounds prominent and would’ve drew me out instantly; I mean, downgrading your best friend herself because she’s different from you (and because you consider yourself the superior one) is so bad, I can’t even. Great review, as always, Destiny!

      1. Yesss, exactly! I struggled a lot with how unjustified the attitude felt, so I love how you worded that. Thank you so much, Fanna! Your comments are always so kind and uplifting! <3

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