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Letters to the Lost

Review

Letters to the Lost

Brigid Kemmerer is a young adult contemporary and supernatural novelist. Her newest novel, MORE THAN WE CAN TELL, is a companion to her acclaimed 2017 release, LETTERS TO THE LOST. Her first books included The Elementals Series and THICKER THAN WATER. She currently lives in Baltimore with her family.

LETTERS TO THE LOST follows Juliet Young, a teenaged girl who leaves her mother notes on her grave, and Declan Murphy, the teenage boy court-mandated to do community service at that same cemetery where Juliet’s mom is buried. Declan ended up in serious trouble after his sister died and he drove drunk. After Declan finds Juliet’s notes and responds to her, the two begin a chain of responses under creative aliases. Both deal with their individual internal struggles and discuss how they can best help each other through their grief.

"Kemmerer creates a riveting story that centers on incredibly heavy topics, yet she writes characters that were so readable that it was impossible to put the book down."

Kemmerer creates a riveting story that centers on incredibly heavy topics, yet she writes characters that were so readable that it was impossible to put the book down. I usually am skeptical about books with written messages, like emails or texts, between characters in a novel, but she made it flow flawlessly, and it was an essential aspect of the plot and the development of Juliet and Declan. This is an essential read because it declines to hold anything back when explaining severe issues that some teens have to deal with.

Throughout the book, the reader is aware of the identity of the characters while they, themselves, are not, and that made this novel stand out. The style of narration offers different levels of both Juliet and Declan’s internal monologue, and it could not have been executed any better. All of the characters are flawed, compelling and on a journey to becoming truly self-aware. Even if it seems impossible, this novel is packed with twists and turns that send the story in a direction you will likely not see coming. At almost 400 pages, LETTERS TO THE LOST feels like 50 pages long. So much is realized throughout the book, but the pacing never stops to offer an uneventful chapter. Told in alternating points of view, the book boasts a plot that simultaneously made me anxious for the next chapter and turning pages with no hope of stopping.

I would highly recommend this novel to those who can handle sadder books but also to those who read for characters. Juliet and Declan stand out to me as some of the best contemporary characters I have read in a long time. Even if the book was inherently about sad topics, Kemmerer made it hopeful, and that is why everyone should read LETTERS TO THE LOST. Keep in mind that it does tackle topics like abuse, death and mental health before deciding to read it.

Reviewed by Grace P., Teen Board Member on March 27, 2018

Letters to the Lost
by Brigid Kemmerer