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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.
ARC received for review purposes in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
As much as I read, it’s not often that I find books that speak to every essence of my soul. I formed a connection with Letters to the Lost long before I picked up the book. In fact, my love affair started with the Publisher’s Weekly sales announcement. There’s always a part of me that’s worried when I hype up a book in my head, but given that I love Brigid Kemmerer, I knew that this was going to be one of those stories that would stay with me forever. Well, I was right! Letters to the Lost, was poignant, emotional and absolutely Brigid Kemmerer’s best novel to date.
I’m up to date with all of the author’s books and one of the most noticeable aspect about her writing is just how talented she is at writing characters that pop to life. Both Juliet and Declan were beautifully fleshed out protagonists, whose heartbreaking sorrow pulled me into their story. I’m not always fan of books where the characters have very angsty story-lines, but if done well, like in Letters to the Lost, I find them to be memorable. Despite all the grief, and hurdles that these two kids face, they are brave and bold and beautiful. Juliet is reeling from the death of her war photographer mother and she is really struggling in the book. Her grief was so vivid, every time I picked up the book, I had a pang in my heart that just would not go away. What was realistic about this story, was that even though she finds an outlet for her heartbreak, she’s not magically cured of her depression. By the end, she is still struggling with it, but has also found a way to deal with it in a positive way. Declan’s story was just as emotional. He was the misunderstood “bad boy” who everyone fears, but who nobody besides his best friend, Rev truly knows. While he may not be the easiest to warm up to at first, Declan becomes very likeable as he slowly peeled off those tough layers he surrounds himself in. Your heart will ache for him, and you’ll want to hug and protect him from every source of evil in the world.
The bond that Juliet and Declan form is so much more than a romance. It’s an emotional connection that not everyone is lucky to find, and I was happy that they found it in each other because they really needed it. The letters they write to each other, slowly opening up and finding solace in each other, were one of the many things I loved about Letters to the Lost. There was just so much raw emotion in them, that I couldn’t help but shed a tear or two a couple of times – which is a rare thing for me. In their real lives, they don’t particularly like each other at first, but they slowly do grow to trust each other despite not being sure if this is who they are talking to via letters and online. I liked that they both saw the clues about their identities, but still don’t reveal their online personas to each other until they were 100% comfortable towards the end of the book.
Besides the achingly swoony romance, there were also some great themes of friendship and family that I loved. As always, Brigid Kemmerer pens ALL the relationships she writes with richness and complexity. I particularly loved the role that Declan’s friend, Rev, and his family played in the book. I’m secretly hoping for a Rev book one of these days because I would read the heck out of it and because he deserves his own story (UPDATE: Rev is getting his book!). Juliet also has an amazing dad and the best friend a girl could ever had, who were absolute pillars to her as she battled with her grief. We also get to know the nature of her relationship with her late mother through her thoughts and emotions, and it was written beautifully.
Letters to the Lost is most assuredly one of the best books of the year for me. If you love your YA books with a good dose of emotions, relateable characters and intricate relationships, it’s one you need on your bookshelves. I most definitely will be purchasing a finished copy of this beauty so I can re-read over and over again.