Early Review | Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Young Adult / Contemporary
Publishing on April 4th, 2017
ARC from Netgalley


Book Blurb: 

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.

| Review |

Ironically enough, it was my buddy Birdie who put Letters to the Lost on my radar. I say that because I’ve been bellyaching to her that I can’t find any good YA lately, and then boom! This book lands on my Kindle. (I mean, I was expecting it because I sent it, but still…) The cover of this book is stunning on it’s own, but once I read the blurb, I had a full on book crush. Once I read the book, I knew it was true love. I was riveted from the very first page.My reviews have been so easy to write lately because I’ve been forcing myself to take notes, but it’s to the drawing board for this one. There was no way I was stopping this book even for a second, no matter that it would make reviewing easier for me down the road!

Though it’s been awhile since Juliet’s mother has died, she is still reeling from her death. Trying desperately to cope the only way she can, she continues the tradition of handwriting letters to her mother, leaving them (assumingly unread) on her mother’s grave. While Juliet had a better support system than Declan on the surface, I was frustrated with them for deciding how far along Juliet should be in her grief. As if you can ever put a timeline on how fast someone should get over death. Declan reminded me of a much darker Lucas Scott, but, again, without the support system. He was deep and brooding, so lost in himself that he couldn’t even see there were people all around him wanting to give him a helping hand. But he at least has his best friend Rev, and Rev’s parents there for him. I really love how Rev was a voice of reason for Declan, providing a constant for him and reminding him, even in the heat of his angry moments, that he was more than people gave him credit for.

The premise of this book (which is even deeper than I originally thought as we go along,) is so heartwarming. Basically, showing the most flawed parts of ourselves, but knowing there’s someone out there who likes you anyway. Anonymity really allowed Juliet and Deacon to be candid with each other. And I love how it wasn’t always all about commiseration – it was about banding together and being brave, giving each other encouragement to step out of their comfort zones and take risks, especially emotional ones.

I’m telling you – there were times when Declan’s mother and stepfather had me so angry that my rage could have given Declan’s a run for his money. His stepfather was jerk enough, but to know that Declan was hurting and his mother couldn’t (or wouldn’t) see it and step in made her so unlikable. As we find out that Declan’s support system is more inclusive than we thought, it felt like a stick it to ya moment to his parents, and boy did it make the petty parts of me feel good. Sometimes it can be the most unlikely of people, a community service supervisor or even a teacher you thought saw nothing in you, to make you feel like you’re worth something, and I love that Declan got that when he stepped back and took a moment to let it all in.

Declan’s character resonated with me more than Juliet’s did, I think because not only did he have feelings of isolation, but I could see it, especially in his own home. But I did love Juliet’s journey throughout this story, too, especially the way she saw a much clearer picture of her father as the story progressed, and how everything he does is basically wrapped up in his love for his daughter. I like that she didn’t always let fear or guilt rule her, and she didn’t always need to jump right into something. She liked to think about it. She was a strong young woman, and I loved seeing her grow throughout this story.

I don’t feel like everything in this book was wrapped up in a neat little bow and presented to the reader, which is a good thing. I don’t want my YA to have the perfect ending, because I don’t feel like that’s indicative of life. Especially when you’re so young.

There were parts of this book that were so moving, and I found myself in tears more than once. Why is teen angst so emotionally wrecking? There were some twists and turns that I didn’t see coming, and they fit the story perfectly. They weren’t so jarring it felt like what the heck was that? It was more like an ‘oh, man! Why didn’t I see that coming?’

So – I had to remove the portion of my review begging the author for Rev’s book because it’s a done deal! We’re getting Rev’s book, and I am tickled pink! There are so many layers to that young man, and I can’t wait to see them peeled away.

As I’m sure you can tell, I loved Letters to the Lost, and I can’t recommend it enough if you’re a YA fan. I know this is one I’ll be returning to over and over again.

| Rating |

 ~ snippets I loved ~

In a rom-com, this would be the “meet-cute.” The boy would be movie-star hot, first-string quarterback, and class valedictorian. He’d offer me his hand, and he’d coincidentally have an extra T-shirt in his backpack. I’d change into it in the restroom, and somehow my boobs would be bigger, my hips would be smaller, and he’d walk me to class and ask me to prom.

The man with the roses is leaving. He may have noticed me here, but no one ever really looks at me. I never look at them, either. We’re all united by grief, and somehow divided by the same thing.

When everything goes to hell around you, the only way to go is forward.

“She’s our age,” says Rev.


He glances around, as if she could be watching us. Instead of the same glee I felt, his expression is serious. “Are you sure someone’s not messing with you somehow?”

“Messing with me how?”

“She doesn’t want to meet you. You don’t know she’s seventeen. She could be a fifty-year-old guy getting off on this whole thing.”

Do you believe in fate? Sometimes I want to. I want to believe that we all walk some path toward . . . something, and our paths intertwine for a reason. Like this, the way we’ve found each other. The way you told me the right story when I so desperately needed to hear it.

I followed your lead and did something unexpected. You’re right. It was terrifying.

Let’s do it again.

…her words light me with a little glow.

It’s been a long time since anyone made me feel like I was good for anything more than taking up space until I could fill a prison cell.

Alan saw one side of me, one moment of my life, and that’s all I’m reduced to now. That’s all anyone sees. Declan Murphy, drunk driver, family ruiner. My snapshot, captured forever in time.

“You’re okay.” Declan is beside me, and his voice is low and soft, the way it was in the foyer. He’s so hard all the time, and that softness takes me by surprise. I blink up at him.

“You’re okay,” he says again.

I like that, how he’s so sure. Not Are you okay? No question about it.

You’re okay.

And right there, in the middle of his own crisis, Rev knows exactly what I need to hear. This is why he’s the perfect friend. And why I can’t wrap my head around him thinking he could ever hurt anyone.

There’s a lot you don’t show the world, you know. I think you should. Give them a new snapshot. Show them what you showed me.

11 thoughts on “Early Review | Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Add yours

  1. I added this to my tbr before I even finished your review! 😉 It seems to have a lot of depth, Angie Elle, and to be well written with great character development. I, too, like my YA to have flawed characters and I don’t need things to be wrapped up prettily. Plus, I really, really want to meet Deacon (and Rev too!) even if I know my petty parts are going to be inflamed by Deacon’s parents. Great review!


  2. I’ve been seeing this book pop up lately and it sounds amazing. Your review is killing me. It took all I had not to close out of your review and go right over to GR and add it to my list.
    p.s. I hate it when books are wrapped up with a pretty lil bow, too.


    1. I hope you get a chance to read it soon. It was such a great story. Yes – leave some things untied so I can tie them up in my imagination or be left hanging and not able to forget the story!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: