Letters to the Lost – Brigid Kemmerer

Don’t you think it’s funny how people say “lost” as if they were just misplaced? But maybe it’s a different meaning of “lost,” in that you don’t know where they went.

Juliet has written letters to her mother for years, first when she was overseas photographing war zones and now when she’s much closer to home but can no longer write back.

We just thought on paper to each other.

Declan is doing community service when he finds one of Juliet’s letters at her mother’s grave. Most people think they know the type of person Declan is because of his arrest.

I say I don’t care what people think of me, but that’s a lie. You’d care, too, if everyone thought you were nothing more than a ticking time bomb.

Declan understands Juliet’s pain and writes back to her. Those two words change both of their lives.

Soon Juliet and Declan are writing to each other regularly. Their anonymity makes them feel safe enough to reveal parts of themselves that they usually keep hidden.

I don’t even know you, but I feel like I understand you.

I feel like you understand me.

And that’s what I like so much about it.

They don’t realise that their paths have already crossed.

I’m all mushy about this book. And I’m not a mushy person.

Part of my love of this book came from the pain the main characters experienced. As they began to connect, I was torn. I wanted them to find one another and connect in person but I loved their vulnerability on the page and didn’t want that to end. Mostly I needed them to know that someone understood what they were going through.

I’m not into romances. At all. But I spent this entire book wanting the senior class reject and cemetery girl to finally get together, dammit! I mean, how can you not get all melty when you read a sentence like this:

She’s the fiercest girl I’ve ever met, but I want to sit in the dark and hold her hand to show her she’s not alone.

Because I read these books out of order, I’d already met Juliet in passing. However, when I read More Than We Can Tell, I didn’t realise the significance of her casually taking photos in the school cafeteria, as if it wasn’t a huge accomplishment.

I’m so glad Rev gets his story told in the next book and that we find out why he only eats sugared cereal as a treat instead of for breakfast.

I loved the parts of the story that focused on photography. Its ability to tell an entire story in a single image… The walk down memory lane to the days of film, when we had no idea whether the magic we saw in the moment was captured until days or weeks later when we got the film developed…

While I adored the main characters, my favourites were those who supported them when it would have been easier to ignore their pain. Frank, Mrs Hillard and Mr Gerardi cared enough to look beneath the surface.

“Every moment is meaningful.”

Because I’m me, I checked each of the email addresses mentioned in this book. None of them currently exist.

Content warnings include alcoholism, death by suicide, foster care, mental health, physical abuse, suicidal ideation and suicide attempt. Readers with emetophobia may have trouble with some scenes.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Juliet is drowning in grief after her mother’s death.

Declan is trying to escape the demons of his past.

Leaving handwritten letters on her mother’s grave is the only way Juliet can process her loss. When Declan finds a letter and answers it anonymously, they continue writing back and forth, not knowing who is on the other side. Juliet is instantly intrigued by this stranger who understands the loss she feels. Declan discovers someone who finally sees the good in him.

Such an immediate and intense connection with a perfect stranger is astonishing and wonderful, and soon they are baring their souls to each other. But this secret world can only sustain Juliet and Declan for so long … as the reality surrounding them threatens to shatter everything they’ve created.

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