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Review: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Letters to the Lost
Brigid Kemmerer
Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Published April 4, 2017

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About Letters to the Lost
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.

My Review
Letters to the Lost totally blew me away. I loved it. It was all the things I loved about You’ve Got Mail but with all of these deep emotions, unresolved grief, family issues, and loneliness. I felt immediately hooked by the idea of this blind exchange between two people who both feel completely isolated from everyone around them which gives them a sense of connection. I loved the way the relationship plays out as they meet each other in real life (without knowing it’s the person they’ve been writing to.) Also, I absolutely adored Rev. He may have been my favorite. It’s hard to say because I loved so much about the story, but if I had a book boyfriend list, Rev would probably be at the top.

At its surface, I’d say this is a romance. It’s about a girl and a boy who meet through letters and fall in love, but they have to figure out who that other person is and face the idea that it may be someone they’ve judged harshly or even don’t like in real life. Beneath that, though, Letters to the Lost deals with some pretty intense grief. Juliet’s mom died in a hit and run car accident. Declan’s dad is responsible for his sister’s death. Both Juliet and Declan have difficult relationships with their parents. Declan’s mom remarried a guy who Declan can’t stand. Juliet’s dad has been distant since her mom’s death.

I loved the way the story began to unravel the truth about Juliet and Declan’s pasts. Some things took me by surprise—in a good way. Each of them have a steadfast friend who sticks with them through their grief, and I loved those friendships, too, and the way Juliet and Declan began to realize how their grief affected others through those relationships. It all felt very organic.

If you’re looking for a romance packed with emotion, you want to read this one. It’s heavy, yes, but has so much hope and love in it. This is one of my favorite books I’ve read this year.

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Cultural Elements
Major characters are white. Juliet competes with and later befriends an Asian boy in her photography class. Black parents adopt Declan’s best friend Rev.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used with moderate frequency. One instance of stronger profanity.

Romance/Sexual Content
Brief kissing. At one point one girl jokes with her friend about whether or not her boyfriend has sent a picture of his “manhood” to her.

Someone finds nude pictures of a man and woman together.

Spiritual Content
Rev is a Christian and sometimes shares Bible verses with Declan. It’s clear his faith means a great deal to him.

Violent Content
References to physical abuse in one character’s past. One character talks about a fear he has that he will become violent and be unable to stop.

Drug Content
A girl accuses a boy of trying to spike the punch at a school dance. (He’s not.)

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.