Brigid Kemmerer wasn’t even a blip on my radar a week ago, but you can damn well believe she’s on there now.
This is undoubtedly one of the most beautifully written, emotionally affecting, character driven, young adult stories I’ve read in years.
Juliet Young has recently lost her mother in a tragic accident. She’s drowning in her grief, but finds comfort in her almost daily visits to the cemetery, where she writes and leaves letters to her mother at her grave.
Declan Murphy has been written off by most people as an irredeemable delinquent. After a drunken joy ride resulted in major property damage, Declan is working off a community service sentence doing maintenance work at the local cemetery. It’s here that he finds and reads a letter left on a gravestone; a letter Declan has no right to read, but which resonates with him on a personal level, to the point that he’s compelled to write back.
The story follows Declan and Juliet, as they connect through correspondence (beginning with hand written letters and progressing into frequent email chats). They manage to keep things anonymous, even while sharing huge, often emotionally fraught moments of their personal lives with one another. They find themselves growing desperately closer as they share in each other’s pains and frustrations, challenging and supporting one another in their attempts to overcome their grief and anger at the world around them.
What Declan and Juliet don’t know is that they know one another in real life, at least peripherally speaking, attending school together and even interacting, somewhat caustically at first, on a semi-regular basis. Their epistolary connection develops rapidly, especially as they grow closer to discovering each other’s identities. But when they discover the truth, will that connection still hold true?
This story was angsty as hell, but in the most delicious, emotionally poignant and personally satisfying kind of way. I’m one of those readers who wants to be knocked around the emotional wringer - especially if the characters come out the other side emotionally richer and happier for it. And that’s exactly what I got here and I enjoyed every moment of it.
My favourite aspect of this story was how strong the character development was. From Declan to Juliet, all the way through to their friends, teachers, and oftentimes infuriatingly apathetic parents, each and every character was genuinely crafted - honest, raw, and so very human in their thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
I absolutely loved this story and I’ll certainly be back for the sequel featuring Declan’s best friend and my personal favourite secondary character, Rev.
Juliet's mother traveled a lot because of her job. Juliet used to exchange letters with her and after the awful accident that killed her mother she keeps writing them and takes them to the cemetery. When one day someone replies to her letter Juliet is upset at first, but the writer seems to understand her. That's why Juliet writes back. She has no idea who the person behind the letters is, but they don't stop exchanging them. The last thing Juliet expects is that she's writing to someone she knows well.
Declan is doing community service at the cemetery. He lost control one night and he's paying dearly for it. Something is broken inside of him, but writing to Juliet helps him heal. They don't know who they're trusting with their secrets. What will happen when they find out? Declan and Juliet go to the same school and Declan doesn't have a good reputation. Will Juliet give him a chance to explain himself and discover what he's really like or will she write him off based on gossip?
Letters to the Lost is an impressive love story. Declan and Juliet have both lost someone they love. They're mourning and are dealing with plenty of guilt. My heart ached for both of them. They're really young and have to shoulder so much responsibility already. When they start writing they've finally found someone they can open up to. They understand each other and could use the support and friendship. As they know each other well it's bound to come out who's behind their aliases and I couldn't wait to find out what would happen to their relationship afterwards. I read the book in one sitting because I was curious and too moved to stop at the same time.
Brigid Kemmerer writes about loss in a raw and empathic way. Letters to the Lost is a fast-paced story with plenty of unexpected twists and turns. It's an emotional book about parents who are constantly falling short. This is a sad topic, but because of the beautiful friendship Declan and Juliet are forming there's also light. Letters to the Lost is a great multilayered book. The story is compelling, meaningful and thought-provoking.
I was really looking forward to reading this one, the synopsis from the get go capture me, and then I picked it up – and loved it. The writing is beautiful, the concept intriguing and the characters enthralling. They too me on an emotional ride.
Letter to the Lost follows protagonist Juliet and Declan – both who have lost so much and feel like they are lost in this big world. They are closed off, they are hidden. Then something happens. They start writing letters to one another – but they don’t know who the other person is.
Juliet was a hard protagonist was hard to get along with. She has a lot of issues and she projects them in a way that may distant the reader from her. At times she has a very entitled way of thinking – and I think it’s because this is the first time something big has happened in her life. And it’s hurt her – hurt her a lot. In saying that, I understood her and I loved how she grew throughout the novel, how she learnt.
Declan on the other hand is amazing – like can he be mine? Please. He like Juliet is hurt, and feels like his alone in life – like he doesn’t have someone to talk to, that there isn’t someone that cares. Declan has this demeanour about him that creates this façade, and people only see him for that. And he acts to that. He thinks that because people see him that way – he should act that way.
The romance – holy, it was so adorable. I loved the notion of writing letters and not knowing who the other person is. And that the person that you are writing to is someone that you least expect. I adored how much Juliet and Declan understood each other. They have both been hurt, but together they can heal. It’s not ‘love’ that is healing, but the understanding. I also loved that it was slow burning. And even though they got to know each other from letters – it was still real.
Family, was a big theme is Letter to the Lost. Both Juliet and Declan have somewhat dysfunctional families. But, not in a harmful sense. It’s the fact that heartbreak and death have torn both of their families a part. I loved the growing relationship between Juliet and her father. At the start it’s very fragile, but as the story goes on and Juliet starts to deal with her grief, they start to rebuild. Declan also has a very rocky relationship with his mother – but it’s all to misunderstand and things left unsaid.
Another big theme of Letter to the Lost is friendship. And I loved both of the protagonist’s friendships. Juliet friendship were again rocky because of her dealing with grief, but as the novel goes on we see her rely on her friend and trust in her. Rev is Declan’s ‘best friend’. Can he be mine? He created this light in a very dark and emotional book. And guess what? He is getting his own book. I cannot wait to delve into this mind and really see what he is thinking. Because Rev has his own demons.
Letter to the Lost like most contemporaries is character driven and although there is some plot movement, it’s more about understand and grief. I also loved that the characters had likes and interest. I liked they were not all about their grief, but so much more.
Overall, Letter to the Lost is an emotional read. It’s a story about grief and dealing with those who you have lost. It’s about understanding that sometimes aren’t what you think they are. It explores the notion of family, friendship and finding yourself. It’s heartfelt, heartbreaking, but also uplifting. It’s one for the tissues.
I was intrigued by the blurb and I love the cover of this book. I must say it was just an okay read for me. Juliet and Declan have both lost love ones and they are trying to cope. Juliet writes letters to her mother whilst Declan works at the cemetery doing community services. He starts to reply to Juliets letters to her mother and there it begins a friendship in a way yet they both do not know who each other are even though they interact through school.
This book is one of my all time favourites. So raw and emotional and may just bring a tear to your eye. The author tells this story as if it were her own and describes everything with full genuineness. This is the type of book that you will be reading non-stop and you won’t be able to put it down.