15 May 2017

Review #602: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“They say time heals all wounds, but that presumes the source of the grief is finite”

----Cassandra Clare

Brigid Kemmerer, an American author, pens a heart breaking young adult contemporary story, Letters to the Lost that revolves around a high school female teenager writing letters and leaving them by the graveside of her dead mother, but one fine day and months after her mother's tragic death, she finds reply to one of her letters, instantly she realized, someone must have played a bad prank on her. Little did the brooding high school teenage boy ever knew that his grief would find a way to connect with another's through writing replies to an unknown girl's letters to her dead mother.


Juliet Young has always written 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 of them knows that they're not actually strangers. When real life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart. This emotional, compulsively-readable romance will sweep everyone off their feet.

Juliet pens letters to her dead mother and leaves them by the side of her grave, who was a photojournalist. Because that's only way Juliet can subsist her grief over her dear mother's death. Little did she knew that one fine day her letters to her dead mother would get an answer back. Immediately Juliet realizes someone has played a dirty joke on her and her grief and that someone has intentionally violated the privacy between her and her mom. She must find out who did it. A bad deliberate accident led Declan to community service on local cemetery where he suddenly chances upon some letters penned by a girl to her dead mother. Declan, the bad boy of his high school, starts writing back letters on response to that girl's letters, gradually they begin writing each other back and forth, revealing their deep, dark secrets, without being aware of one another's real identity. Whereas in reality, Juliet can't resist her attraction over the bad boy, Declan and Declan remains in his own world filled with secrets, grief and regrets. Little did they knew that they are both writing to one another on a regular basis.

The story line is unique but here are quite a handful of cliched moments, which fits in perfectly with the story line. The story line speaks of grief in big bold letters and how to cope with that, but the author sometimes failed to captivate that flow of grief amongst the characters, as they are too much wrapped up in their own worlds and insecurities. So apart from that, the book will rarely ever disappoint its readers. The backdrop of the cemetery is charming, although it could have been much more vividly depicted, as this is where the whole story actually begins.

The author's writing style is articulate and is layered so well with evocative emotions that will deeply move the readers. The narrative is free flowing, sensitive and touches the base realistically. Told from the perspectives of the two main protagonists, yet despite of their thoughts, the readers will find enough space to contemplate the story line from their own view. The pacing is smooth, not too fat or too slow, laced with enough drama and despair to make the story one hell of a compelling as well as touching read for the fans of young adult contemporary fiction.

The characters are really well developed from scratch, as the author explores them with enough depth, that will leave an impression in the minds of the readers long after the story has ended. The main protagonist, Juliet, is in immense pain over the death of her dear mother and her death has hit her so badly, that she has detached herself from her passion for photography, but then again, the author slightly fails to explore this pain of Juliet, instead projecting Juliet's emotions towards Declan, the emotional rush she gets every time she sees him, the anger over her letter's replies, the slow-burning affection over her pen friend. Overall, Juliet is relatable from the very core, although some of her actions are very banal. Declan, on the other hand, is a sort of dark character and that makes him look quite interesting in the eyes of the readers. Also his past and back story helps the reader understand with his grief in a better way. Declan's broodiness might annoy the readers sometimes, but overall, Declan too will impress the readers.

In a nutshell, this is a highly absorbing contemporary love story where the love story melts gradually in the hearts of the readers with enough passion and shared pain.

Verdict: An enjoyable read!

Courtesy: Thanks to the publishers from Bloomsbury Publishing for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.

Author info:
BRIGID KEMMERER is author of LETTERS TO THE LOST (Bloomsbury; April 4, 2017), a dark, contemporary Young Adult romance; THICKER THAN WATER (Kensington, December 29, 2015), a New Adult paranormal mystery with elements of romance; and the YALSA-nominated Elemental series of five Young Adult novels and three e-novellas which Kirkus Reviews calls “refreshingly human paranormal romance” and School Library Journal describes as “a new take on the supernatural genre.” She lives in the Baltimore area with her husband and four sons.
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