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Letters to the Lost Hardcover – April 4, 2017
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"This book is going to fly off the shelves to all teens, but it will hold special interest for those looking for a tear-jerking romance and serious readers of realistic fiction." - VOYA
"A great concept, delivered in a compulsively readable package . . . romance readers will stay up late to finish this very satisfying and heartfelt read." - Booklist
"Explores the ideas of carving identity out of pain and the way perception colors expectations." - BCCB
"Readers will find themselves rooting for the real Declan to win Juliet’s heart the same way his online persona did. Consider this tale of modern star-crossed love as a first purchase for YA collections." - School Library Journal
About the Author
Brigid Kemmerer is the author of Letters to the Lost, More Than We Can Tell, and the YALSA-nominated Elementals series and the paranormal mystery, Thicker Than Water. She was born in Omaha, Nebraska, though her parents quickly moved her all over the United States, from the desert in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the lakeside in Cleveland, Ohio, with several stops in between. Brigid is now settled near Annapolis, Maryland, with her husband and children.
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Top customer reviews
Juliet and Declan's story grabbed me from the very first page. I found myself saying "just one more chapter" again and again and again, only to find myself 50 or 100 pages further into the book. My favorite part was how real the characters became in the space of just a few lines - their pain, their vulnerability, their hope, all of it. You're not only rooting for them as a potential couple but as individuals who desperately need healing separately, too.
In fact, I just all around loved that the romance (though strong) wasn't the focus of the story. That we get to know their families, their friends, their teachers, mentors, etc, and that each one of them feels as real as the two leads. Our lives aren't made up of one person, they're made up of a dozen people, all of whom have roles to play.
LETTERS TO THE LOST reminds us that sometimes people let us down, but that doesn't mean that we get to stop trying, or stop digging beneath the snapshot they present the world. Not if they matter to us. Because the only way to heal, to move forward, is to truly understand that although everyone has flaws, and makes mistakes, everyone also has the potential to surprise us in the best way possible.
I loved it. 100%.
Juliet leaves goodbye notes at her mother's grave. One day an anonymous stranger writes: Me too. That stranger is classmate and bad boy Declan, who is doing community service mowing lawns at the cemetery. The two begin anonymously writing letters, developed a close bond that might shatter if she learns his identity and why she's doing community service.
Brigid Kemmerer's debut novel has all the components of a great story. Her characters are diverse, unique and multidimensional. I loved the minor characters especially Declan's best friend Rev, a white boy who was adopted by black parents from foster care due to abuse. Declan's supportive teacher and probation supervisor were also important adults in his parents of the story.
The writing flows with ease and heart, never manipulating emotion. While the plot was a little predictable, she avoided convenient pitfalls (I can't say without spoiling). Points of view alternate chapters narrated by Declan and Juliet. I forgot whose I was reading often, although chapters had email headers, naming the narrator with the chapter heading would have been helpful.
LETTERS TO THE LOST is a beautiful, moving story about grief and self forgiveness.
But there's so much more happening here. This book is also about acceptance and appearances and the disconnect between expectation and reality—how we sometimes judge before we understand, or fulfill the expectations others have of us, without even wanting to. It's about how we see one another, and how we see ourselves, and it's about what happens when we come to know someone and ourselves when we remove all that baggage.
Juliet and Declan are able to bare their souls to a stranger more easily than those who love them most—and it connects them at a level that is visceral for the reader. You root for Juliet and Declan as they create a safe place in their secret world, even while you bite your fingernails knowing it cannot last. What happens when their private world collides with real life will keep you on the edge of your seat and maybe, if you're a softie like me, shedding a few tears. (I wasn't yelling at the characters... YOU were yelling at the characters.)
I tore through this book in less than a day. The pacing kept me racing through and ignoring a bunch of things I was supposed to be doing. But I'm not sorry. It's fantastic writing and even all the supporting characters are really well drawn and human. Any one of them could carry their own novel. (I'm very much hoping to see more from Declan's best friend Rev, soon.)
If you're looking for a touching, fun and engaging story of love and redemption with characters that will having you thinking about them days later—this is a great book for you. Buy it!
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