Thursday, April 6, 2017

Review: Letters to the Lost - Brigid Kemmerer

Letters to the Lost 
Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenges: #NGEW2017

Juliet and Declan were both suffering from great losses and they carried a great deal of guilt related to these losses. Both were dealing with it in their own way. Juliet was writing letters to her dead mother and withdrew from life. Declan took a more self destructive path, but neither were really healing until they began corresponding with each other.
I want to fall into him. I want to let someone else carry this weight, even if it's just for a little bit. 

I will start with the most important part for me - the feels. There were so many times when I experienced chills or had to blink away tears. Both Juliet and Declan had lost someone who was important to them. They had loved these people. They missed these people. They believed they played a role in the death of these people. That's a huge burden to bear. My heart just ached for them. For Declan, the pain was multiplied by the way he had become ostracized by his peers, his mother, and his stepfather. There were so many times that I wanted to simultaneously slap him and hug him. It wasn't all sad though, there were also many times that I smiled, sighed, and laughed. I thought Kemmerer did a great job building that balance into the story.
And yes...I can't help myself. Declan is prickly and explosive and sharp, but buried deep below all that is a boy who's caring and protective and loyal. 
I became invested in both main characters quite quickly. They were so broken and wounded, but Kemmerer slowly showed us how they were healing once The Dark and Cemetery Girl (their online alter egos) began their relationship. It didn't happen all at once, but the people around them started seeing some positive changes, and I enjoyed looking for those small steps towards them becoming whole again as well.
I should be thanking you. I followed your lead and did something unexpected. You're right. It was terrifying. Let's do it again. 
I had so much ire with respect to their parents. Both Juliet's dad and Declan's mom really dropped the ball, and allowed their children to climb into this hole of grief. I will thank Kemmerer a thousand times for all the wonderful auxiliary characters she assembled as a support system for Declan and Juliet. So, thank you for Rev and his parents for their endless love and affection. Thank you for Frank for his wisdom and understanding. Thank you for Rowan and her mom for always being there and giving Juliet a home away from home. I am even going to thank you for Mr. Gerardi and Mrs. Hillard, the two teachers who never gave up on these kids. It was quite beautiful the way all these different types of relationships were explored, and also that Kemmerer allowed these relationships to grow and change throughout the story as our MCs grew and changed.
And right there, in the middle of his own crisis, Rev knows exactly what I need to hear. 
There were also so many wonderful ideas and concepts that I adored. Juliet and Declan discussed this idea of people only seeing a "snapshot" of you and basing their opinions on this brief glimpse of you. That you are more than this part that people choose to see, and that you can do more than what they expect of you.
"We were wrong," she says. "You make your own path."
This quote is quite a powerful statement, and this was a gift Juliet gave to Declan. When he thought he was not able to rise above his mistakes, she reminded him that he can make his own path.
You were the first person to see all of me, Juliet. The first person who made me feel like I was worth more than a reputation and a record. 
Overall: A touching story of survival, redemption, and healing, filled with some really beautiful messages about making your own path and not letting one bad decision decide your future.

**I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy of this book

Have you ever had a pen pal?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. Ohh this sounds AMAZING!! I really hope I get a chance to read it someday. ๐Ÿ˜ I really love powerful novels and like, I do enjoy sad novels, even though it feels weird to say that?!? ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜‚ I'm glad this was really powerful and moving. (And eep, no I've never stuck out with a penpal but I have tons of internet friends!)

    1. It really is a great book, which is filled with some stand-out characters. I am really happy to see it getting so much positive attention. When I was a kid, there was no internet and the world was so much bigger. I had pen pals all over the world, and that was how I really learned about their cultures. Technology has made our world much smaller, but I still love a handwritten note.

  2. Review twins!!!
    And you made my day by telling me Rev was getting a book :)

    1. I was reading the GoodReads reviews, and Tiff at Mostly YA Lit was all "Give me book 2 now", and I replied about how I would love a book 2, and she responds, "You know there's going to be one, right?". I had tweeted my review and Kemmerer responded, so I asked her about it, and she confirmed March 2018!!!! So excited!

  3. This sounds like such a good book! Grief is such a tough subject and it sounds like it is handled well. Great review!

    1. Kemmerer really did a wonderful job. I always love the books, where the authors show that we grieve in different ways. I will definitely be reading Kemmerer's next book, mostly because it's a spinoff of this book, but also because I really enjoyed her storytelling.

  4. I have been so looking forward to this book. And your review just amped that up by 1,000. I swear, when a bit can make me feel, can rip my heart out... I eat it up. Juliet and Declan both sound like amazing characters that have been through a lot and are still dealing with it. I am so ready for this one. Great review, Sam!

    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

    1. It really was a wonderful reading experience for me. I have trouble with the really, really sad books, but when the author plants those seeds of hope and lets the sun shine in part of the time, I'm ok. This one had that balance, which I need in my reads.