Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Released: April 4 2017
Read: January 29 2017
This contemporary young adult novel is a dual narrative story between Juliet and Declan. They go to the same school, and know each other by sight, but connect through letters without knowing each is the other letter writer. This allows them to open up and speak freely, but it’s not long before their secret and public lives collide.
These are two damaged teenagers, but they are also strong, and they feel real. Kemmerer writes authentic boys, tough and scary on the outside, but really, soft as butter, vulnerable and looking for meaning. The issues of grief, and trying to become a better person despite a neglected upbringing are not new, but this author brings a fresh approach, and readers easily identify with Juliet’s attempts to understand her mother’s death, and Declan’s desire to prove himself worthy of her affection.
Would sit alongside other notable contemporaries written by Emory Lord, Jennifer Niven, and Jandy Nelson. It’s another one we would recommend to boys who enjoy contemporary novels, even though the cover might dissuade them. Kemmerer announced that one of the secondary characters, Rev, who is Declan’s best friend will also get his own novel. It’s coming next April, and it’s great!!
Family ultimately shapes teenagers’ formative years, and Kemmerer links Juliet’s way of looking at world directly to her mother, and this is a very effective way to shake Juliet to her core. This is an emotional ride for both our main characters, and it’s great that they can depend on each other. I found this very satisfying.