I cried. I actually cried at this book. This is going to sound really cheesy, but this spoke to me on so many levels… Letters to the Lost is about confronting your own demons, about facing loss, dealing with family problems, friendship, and love. It is a beautiful young adult contemporary that deals with so many issues.
Juliet Young has always written 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 of them knows that they’re not actually strangers. When real life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.
Let me get one negative out of the way first… There’s a trope. There’s the bad-boy who has had a troubled past, he’s brooding, he’s attractive, yet he has a kind heart that only the girl can see and he’s actually misunderstood. So yeah, that’s the trope that is in this book. However, Kemmerer doesn’t convey it as a trope. She works it to her advantage and the character of Declan is probably one of my favourites in this book and I loved all of the characters within Letters to the Lost.
Talking of characters, all of the characters within this book were amazing – even the secondary characters. All of them had major character development that was important to themselves personal and also important to the story. The character of Declan had a huuugggeee character arc and I love being able to witness how he managed the world around him, how he struggled with his own guilt and his own depression, how he used his own struggles to help Juliet. Juliet’s character arc was her coming to terms with the loss of her mother and trying to find a way to get through it, but not by losing herself completely in the loss, she gets through it by acceptance, by understanding, and by leaning on those around her for support. I also loved the character of Rev. He was a secondary character yet he had so much depth to him. I would love to see a novella or even a whole novel from his perspective because even though he was on the sidelines for this book, he still had a key role.
“Sometimes you get to a point where it hurts too much, and you’ll do anything to get rid of the pain.”
– Brigid Kemmerer, Letters to the Lost
I also loved the format of the book. The book was first told through a series of letters for the first part of the chapter, and then when the letter had finished, the chapter would carry on from the other person’s perspective after reading the letter. Does that make sense? I don’t feel like I worded that well at all… Letters then turn into emails, which then switches to text messaging and then back to emails. I love it when authors use different formats within their book to tell the story; I feel like it adds a whole new element to storytelling.
Even though there were two characters who had romantic feelings for one another, there was no romantic actions; no sexual content. And I found this a breath of fresh air. Kemmerer focuses on the mental chemistry between two people rather than physical chemistry. She focuses on the connection that two people share and how they use that connection to help each other through the darkest of times.
Overall – if you can’t tell already – I loved this book. I devoured it. I finished it in one sitting and then automatically started it again once I had finished. Even though there is the stereotypical trope of the bad boy, I enjoyed reading from his perspective and how he developed. I can’t wait to get my hands on a finished copy just so I can read it again.
Disclaimer: this book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Released 6th April
Trigger warnings: depression, war imagery, loss of family, domestic abuse