(No actual dueling—or even arm-twisting—was involved. Don’t worry, this is a dual review, not a duel review. Sorry if you’re disappointed.)
Danielle Hammelef was the latest winner of my Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up “Make Me Read It” giveaway, and she chose to make me read More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer. I’d received an ARC of this book at an event I went to at Anderson’s Bookshop a few years ago, and I have no idea why I hadn’t read it yet. I’m so glad she made me pick it up finally!
This dual review is actually sort of a trio review because as soon as I was done with it I passed it along to my fifteen-year-old daughter (also Danielle), and I asked her thoughts on it too!
Read on to see what we thought of the book…
More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Letters to the Lost #2
Also in this series: Letters to the Lost
on March 6, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
My content rating: YA (Themes of online harassment; physical and sexual abuse)
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.
*While this book exists in the same universe as Letters to the Lost, it is a standalone title.*
An emotionally compelling contemporary that will give you plenty to think about!
What Fed Our Addiction:
Compelling characters. Honestly, this is what hooks me with every single one of Kemmerer’s books, whether they’re contemporary, paranormal or fantasy (I’ve been reading Kemmerer since 2013 when I first found—and loved!—her Elemental Series). I am always completely invested in her characters. They feel like real people who you know personally, and you only want the best for them! Rev has a tragic backstory to stir up sympathy, but I felt just as connected to Emma, who’s dealing with more everyday issues of familial problems and online harassment.
The perils of online life. I hadn’t read the synopsis recently, so I was actually surprised by this part of the plot. I recently read Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith and loved how it explored how online gaming can be unpleasant and downright dangerous for girls sometimes. This book presents those same issues (in a slightly different way, of course). Emma is being harassed, but she doesn’t want to make a big deal out of it, especially because she doesn’t want her mom to have any more reason to be opposed to her gaming. As things escalate, Emma resists help from Rev (or anyone else) because she doesn’t want to feel like she’s being rescued. This adds an interesting tension to the relationship between these two.
DANIELLE SAYS: I recently read Slay which also addresses the peril of online gaming for girls and the predators who stalk them. I enjoyed this author’s take on this issue too and the resolution just made me love Rev with all my heart.
NICOLE SAYS: Oh, yes, I forgot about Slay. You’re right—that’s another great example!
The effects of abuse. Rev suffered abuse at the hands of his father when he was a child, and even though he’s been living in a loving and stable home for years, the echoes of that abuse remain in his life. This seemed like a very realistic depiction of someone who has survived trauma. The past can never be completely wiped away, even when we’ve found healthy ways to move on. Rev’s struggles with his feelings about his father were incredibly compelling as well.
DANIELLE SAYS: This is the aspect of the book that made me cry–really cry–and a book hasn’t made me cry for a character in a long time. I just wanted to hug Rev, be there for him, so bravo to the author for being able to bring out these intense emotions for me.
NICOLE SAYS: Tears were definitely shed.
An exciting plot twist. It would be easy for this book to fall into the category of being a character study that’s light on plot, but things get very interesting near the end of this book, and it’s definitely injected with an added dose of excitement!!
DANIELLE SAYS: Yes, I had to keep reading as the end escalated, but I totally saw it coming. That was actually a bit of a bummer for me, but didn’t ruin my love for this book.
NICOLE SAYS: I saw it coming in the moment, but I wasn’t expecting it all the way through the book—I had moments of thinking maybe something like that would happen, but not enough to be literally waiting for it.
What Left Us Hungry for More:
Rev’s religious beliefs? Rev’s father used his religious fanaticism as an excuse to hurt his son, but Rev never lost his faith. I really liked that aspect of his character, but I wish we had been able to see a bit more where Rev’s faith came from outside of his father. He was raised in a nonreligious family and had nonreligious friends (and didn’t go to church from what I could tell?), so I couldn’t blame his friends for feeling that maybe his faith was based on a backwards connection to his father—I wished we could have seen how his faith developed for him.
Some loose ends. Okay, it was actually (my daughter) Danielle who brought this up to me. When I asked her how she liked the book, she said she loved it (she had told me that the night before she didn’t want to stop reading but put it down at 12:30 since she figured she shouldn’t read much later). BUT she did say that she was disappointed at some of the loose ends left when she’d finished reading. She wished she’d closure on (I put some of this in spoiler brackets, even though the spoilers are mild):
- What happened with the relationship between Emma and her father? View Spoiler »(Since the relationship seemed to sort of take a backward slide as the book progressed—she wished we’d gotten to see that improve. I pointed out that I think that was sort of one of the points of the book—that Emma hadn’t been seeing her parents completely clearly—but I get why she wanted more.) « Hide Spoiler
- What happened to the foster brother? View Spoiler »(I guess it’s true that we don’t find out what happens to him in the long-term.) « Hide Spoiler
- Aspects of the harassment. View Spoiler »(She wanted to know who the actual harasser was and what happened with him, but again, I think part of the point was that Emma couldn’t see the real dangers because she was so focused on the obvious harassment.) « Hide Spoiler
So, that wraps it up. More Than We Can Tell more than fed my fiction addiction. Thanks, Danielle, for making me read it!
DANIELLE SAYS: It fed my addiction too (if you haven’t copyrighted that phrase, Nicole 😉) (I suppose I can lend it to you, Danielle. 🙂 ) The first book and this companion book were my first by this author and won’t be my last, so I’m more than happy to have made you read it.
About the Author
Brigid Kemmerer is the New York Times bestselling author of dark and alluring Young Adult novels like A Curse So Dark and Lonely, More Than We Can Tell, and Letters to the Lost (Bloomsbury), as well as paranormal YA stories like The Elemental Series and Thicker Than Water (Kensington). A full time writer, Brigid lives in the Baltimore area with her husband, her boys, her dog, and her cat. When she’s not writing or being a mommy, you can usually find her with her hands wrapped around a barbell.
Have you read this one? What did you think? We want to know!