Letters to the Lost – Brigid Kemmerer – YA Romance – 2017
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.
I thought the characters in this book were fine. They really read like YA tropes so I didn’t really feel any connections to them, especially as I know I wouldn’t have acted like them as a teen. My favourite character was Rev, Declan’s friend, as I felt his actions were the closest to believable. He has an interesting back story but I don’t think it was developed enough to be relevant in the novel and seemed almost a plot convenience.
I liked the fact that each chapter was told from alternative points of view between Declan and Juliet, as it allowed the reader to understand how they were both reacting to the same event. You start off feeling that Declan, who is on probation, can’t be that great of a person and this is reinforced as Juliet is set up as good but as the novel continues you start to see them as more rounded.
I’d have liked more character development in this novel. Although there was some development I didn’t feel like it went very far and felt quite tame, especially given that the book’s themes lent themselves to more discussion.
When you read the reviews about this book a lot of them talk about how emotional they found the descriptions of grief, so I was intrigued to see how the author would handle the subject. Unfortunately I didn’t connect as much as many other people seem to have with the characters’ losses, and I’ve read several books that I think deal with grief in a more relatable way.
The ending of the book (as with the whole book) was quite predictable, and I found myself hoping as I was reading that the author would go in a different direction but it was a bit of a lacklustre finale.
I gave this book 3/5. If you’re looking for a YA romance novel I think you’d enjoy this book, but there was nothing setting it apart from other similar novels in my opinion.