Letters to the Lost Review (AKA My Admiration for Brigid Kemmerer)

April 24, 2017 Reviews 26 ★★★★½

Letters to the Lost Review (AKA My Admiration for Brigid Kemmerer)Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on April 4th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 400
Source: NetGalley
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing)
My rating:
4.5 Stars

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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My Take copy3

I have read every single one of Brigid Kemmerer’s books, and I have not been disappointed yet. When I first read the description of this one, I was a little surprised to see that it’s a straight-up contemporary (considering that her Elementals Series is paranormal and she wrote so many of those).  But as I read, I started to realize that I was falling in love with it for the same reasons that I fell in love with the Elementals books: her characters. Kemmerer writes characters that I can’t help but connect to, and whether she’s telling a contemporary story or a paranormal one, her books focus on the characters and what drives them—and, often, the pain behind their stories. Letters to the Lost is a beautiful example of this.

What Fed My Addiction:

  • Heartbreak. Honestly, if Declan and Juliet’s stories don’t tear you to pieces, you have to be made of stone. They’ve both experienced tremendous loss in their young lives, and neither of them have figured out how to process it. There were so many times that my heart broke during this book, for both the main characters. Tears were definitely shed.
    • Juliet has been clinging to her mother’s memory like a lifeline by writing letters to her (something they did while her mother was still alive, so it makes her feel close to her), but at the same time, she’s completely avoiding living and anything that reminds her too much of her mother. She’s given up her passion for photography because she doesn’t believe she can ever live up to her mother’s legacy. She can’t seem to drag herself out of the pain and sorrow that have surrounded her since her mother’s death, and she’s tired of people telling her to move on. Juliet doesn’t want to move on—she wants to hold onto every scrap of memory she can manage to pull up from her spotty history with her mom.
    • Declan is recovering from a tragedy of his own, but I won’t reveal what it is since his story unfolds as the book progresses. Like Juliet, he holds onto pain and guilt, unable to move past it—but he responds with sullenness (and sometimes surliness). He has a reputation for being trouble, and he doesn’t figure there’s any way to make people see him in any other way. In a lot of ways, he’s given up.
  • The Letters. Declan and Juliet communicate via letter, and neither of them know who they’re writing to. Because of the nature of letters, they can be a lot more honest and open with each other than they’d be in person, especially since the letters are anonymous. The letters reveal so much about these characters and their hidden pain, and a connection is forged between Declan and Juliet that’s both intense and believable.
  • Perspective. One of the major themes of the book is how Juliet and Declan only show one side of themselves to the world—and they judge each other based on preconceived notions. Juliet has heard the rumors about Declan and she has no reason to doubt them—especially when he doesn’t exactly put his best foot forward when they meet in person. Declan makes his own assumptions about Juliet as well. This book reminds us that we don’t ever fully know someone’s story, that we can’t know what goes on in someone’s heart and mind unless we’ve walked in their shoes—or cared enough to truly listen.

What Left Me Hungry for More:

  • Declan’s surliness. The only thing that holds me back from giving the book a full five stars is that Declan sometimes borders on being an actual jerk in real life (not in his letters). The thing that saves him is that we get his perspective and we know his pain—we can see how he’s been judged and why he sometimes lashes out when he feels like he’s being unfairly targeted. Still, I couldn’t help but feel like Juliet was sometimes justified in her criticisms of his behavior, and there was a little part of me that wondered if Juliet could (or maybe should?) truly fall for Declan before he had all his issues figured out. (Of course, the implication is that he’s managed that by the end of the book, but the realistic part of my brain wondered if it was that simple….) Still, since we got Declan’s POV and could see where he was coming from, I have to admit that I mostly fell in love with him.

If you are a fan of heart-wrenching contemporaries, you need this book in your life. Kemmerer manages to pull the reader in and make us love her characters, even through their flaws. I give this book an easy 4.5/5 Stars.

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

About the Author

BRIGID KEMMERER is the author of LETTERS TO THE LOST (Bloomsbury; April 4, 2017), a dark, contemporary Young Adult romance;  THICKER THAN WATER (Kensington, December 29, 2015), a New Adult paranormal mystery with elements of romance; and the YALSA-nominated Elemental series of five Young Adult novels and three e-novellas which Kirkus Reviews calls “refreshingly human paranormal romance” and School Library Journal describes as “a new take on the supernatural genre.” She lives in the Baltimore area with her husband and four sons.

Author Links:
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26 Responses to “Letters to the Lost Review (AKA My Admiration for Brigid Kemmerer)”

  1. Lily B

    I really want to read this, it sounds lovely and emotional. The characters sound so good. Emotionally, don’t feel like I am ready for a book like this yet. Soon, I hope

  2. danielle hammelef

    I’ve been keeping this book on my must read list for this year. I love emotional reads. Thanks for the great review! I appreciate your thoughts on books.

  3. JennRenee

    I have seen this book around just a little. I am sucker for heart wrenching books of any kind. This one sounds amazing and a little on the deep side- maybe more than a little. I will for sure pick this one up as soon as i can.

  4. Sam

    Your review brought me right back to the feels I experienced reading this book. Seriously, I got chills. Lovely review, and I agree, the characters are everything. I am waiting with bated breath for Rev’s book.
    Sam @ WLABB

  5. ShootingStarsMag

    I’ve never read anything by this author but I do love a good contemporary novel and this sounds like it was done really well. I like that they get to know each other via letters – it does allow for more openness and honesty.

    -lauren

  6. Ksenia @ Something Delicate

    I see so many praises to this book recently. Letters is one of my favorite tropes. Wonderful review, Nicole! I need to brace myself for heartbreak and finally start this book. I’m not a fan of jerkish heroes, but it looks like Declan show some character growth by the end of the story.

    • Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

      I love this concept too. In fact, I just read ANOTHER similar book called Tell Me Three Things (done with email), and I was worried I’d find it too repetitive since I just read this one. But, nope—I still loved it. 🙂

  7. Elena @ Book Lady's Reviews

    I was so excited when I saw your review because I just ordered Letters to the Lost and can’t wait for it to finally arrive! The story and the characters definitely sound intriguing and right up my alley! It’s also been a while since I’ve been blown away by a contemporary so, I’m hoping for the best! So glad you enjoyed it!

  8. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    Great review. You’ve hit the nail on the head for me on why this book was so great. I loved every page and I really need to get ahold of a copy for myself since I read and ARC. I haven’t read any of Kemmerer’s other books but I have heard people mention her Elementals books so I am definitely going to have to try and get copies of those and give them a try. I also heard she’s got a book coming out which will be Rev’s story so I can’t wait to read that.

  9. Geybie's Book Blog

    I haven’t read any book by this author yet but I’ve read great reviews for this book. Awesome review. Thanks for sharing. I’ll consider this book. 😁

  10. Preethi @ The Lone Reader

    I’m really excited to read this one! I know I’ve read at least one of this author’s books before, and I absolutely adored it. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the same way with this one, but I have to wait until I’m in a contemporary mood to read it.😫 Great review!!

  11. Jen

    Fabulous review, Nicole! I couldn’t help but connect to the characters in this book too! And everything you loved, I of course loved also! I’m SOOOOO excited that we get Rev’s book next year, I just know it’s going to be fabulous! And here’s hoping we get peaks into Declan and Juliet’s life. ♥

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