Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

by - September 26, 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.


If you've ever lost someone then you're probably aware of the various stages of grief. The typical 'google' search will churn out something about anger, sadness, acceptance etc. But, for people that have experienced a loss close to them, they'd know that those stages are fairly accurate but not entirely. They miss a few steps. Most people don't know that there's the unpredictable stage and the stage where you're not sure if you could smile again because it would be an insult to your dearly beloved. As someone that has felt this sudden and life-altering loss, I could appreciate this book even more. 

The thing about Letters to the Lost that made me enjoy it was its relatability. It somehow really resonated with me, an outcome I blame on the actual letters being exchanged. As someone that writes for a living and hobby, I know how therapeutic writing out your thoughts and ideas could be. That allowed me to instantly connect with the character of Juliet. Throw in her love for photography and I was enthralled. Later, when we got to know the real Declan, I fell in love with his character as well. Their story was innocent, at times relatable to an absurd amount and down right cute. 

The writing kept me hooked, especially when Brigid dove into the darker side of her writing. It's not out of this world dark but exploring abuse and the ramifications of it was quite entertaining. Although I was a fan of Declan and Juliet, I have to admit that my attention was constantly moving towards the other characters. First off, I loved the character of Juliet's mom. She was complex, driven, beautiful and played a vital role in her daughters life despite her constant travelling. I know that what her mother did was pretty brutal for anyone to learn about but that only added depth to her character. Brigid created this idea of Juliets mother, as if she were an enigma we weren't entirely privy to. 

Then there was Rev. My sweet and beloved favourite character. I know his getting a book of his own soon, a fact I was extremely thrilled about because there was no way Brigid could develop this complicated and stunning character and NOT give him a happy ending. Even though the focus of this book was Declan and Juliet, I was drawn to the friendship created between Declan and Rev, the history between families and their sad past. I was drawn into Juliet and her moms relationship, good and bad. It was their stories apart that made me love this book. 

I wouldn't say that their romance wasn't enough to hook me, which is partly true. But, the reality is that the storyline behind that romance was better. It was moving faster, developing into a rich story filled with drama and realistic life happenings.  If I should judge this book by its romance, something I hope people don't do, then I wouldn't chalk it up to be amazing. There were times their romance was cute but there were also moments it was dragged on too long, causing our leads to go back and forth from should we or shouldn't we? However, that didn't matter to me at all since my focus wasn't transfixed by the two love struck teenagers. This book goes a bit deeper than expected. It explores grief and the weight labels have on children today, as judgement plagues everyone on a daily basis. 

Once I was done with this read, I smiled because I knew it had taken me out of my reading slump and immediately pushed me towards my next book. Its a fulfilling and easy read, with just enough to keep the romantics at bay. But, prepare yourself for a roller coaster that's much more deeper and complicated than you think. 

Book was sent to me by Jonathan Ball Publishers in exchange for an honest review. 

- Tina 

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