Review: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Monday, April 3, 2017

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: April 4th, 2017
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: From the Author for donating to Funds for Fox
Format: Physical ARC
Pages: 400

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

Until I started trying to write my review for this book, I didn't really realize how much it kind of hit home for me. I could relate to a lot of things in this book from my days in school. Though, not in the sense that I wrote letters to strangers at my mother's grave.

So, usually contemporary novels really aren't my jam. I basically say that in every contemporary novel review I write. And probably about every chance I get to mention it, really. But it's just so painfully true. It seems like most of the contemporary novels I read end up as DNFs or me pushing through it like a champ with my eyes glazed over.

But this one I loved. It's about two people who connect anonymously through their feelings of guilt and grief for things that have happened in their lives. 

Juliet Young was a star photography student until her award winning, photojournalist mother was killed in a hit and run accident on her way home from the airport after one of her trips. She was meant to take honors photography in school, but can't even bring herself to pick up a camera anymore. Now she's not necessarily a bad student, but she seems to be tardy a lot to school because she visits her mother's grave in the mornings and the teachers are quickly losing sympathy for her.

I felt like I kind of had a love/hate relationship with Juliet. It felt to me like in the beginning of the book, she had kind of a snotty, superior attitude toward certain characters in this book for no real reason other than they were kind of the outcasts at the school. She eventually got over it, but I thought that was really annoying for reasons that will be explained below.

I also felt like I could relate a lot to some of the feelings that she had throughout the book for her mom. Mostly because I have gone through a lot of the same feelings toward my own mom. While my mother didn't die, she did move to Indiana right before I turned 17 for a guy that she met on the internet. She didn't visit South Dakota again until the BF bought her a plane ticket for my 22nd birthday.

I have felt the fondness, sadness, and whatever else Juliet feels for her mother for most of this book, but I also definitely felt the anger she feels in a little bit of it as well. So yeah, I kind of felt like I could relate to that.

Declan Murphy kind of becomes an outcast after he gets drunk one night and crashes a car into a building. People fear him because they don't really know what he's going to do, I think. For his community service, he ends up mowing the lawn at the cemetery. It's while he's doing his community service one day that he stumbles across a letter left at a grave. He reads it and and he responds.

He doesn't think he's going to get a response, but the next time he's mowing, there's a new letter there, this time written to him. Juliet and Declan don't know they're writing to each other. They eventually take it to email and continue to bond through their separate grief.

Besides Juliet and Declan, I think that the two other most important characters are their best friends, Rowan and Rev.

I did not like Rowan. In fact, I kind of hated her. She's really judge-y and has a tendency to make these nasty little comments to people that she seems to think are beneath her. She's always described as looking 'angelic.' She's kind of a goody two shoes, that one that runs to tattle to the teacher every chance she gets.

She actually really reminded me of this girl in my class in school. When I was in second grade, my parents got divorced. I had to go to the school counselor every week after that for at least the rest of that school year. Play therapy for the WIN!

Anyway, there was this one girl in my class who took it upon herself to come up to me and make a stupid little nasty comment about how my parents were divorced. Sometimes accompanied with this little giggle that made me want to throat punch her! I seriously think she sought me out every year to make a comment like that to me. I remember her making them to me in high school! "Oh, your parents are divorced, aren't they?" *giggle*

So yeah, that's probably 90% of the reason I hated Rowan.

Rev was probably my favorite character. He probably needs his own spin off book. I would read it in a heart beat. He's got such a sad/interesting story. He was adopted by a nice couple after some tragic childhood experiences. He's really down to earth and a great friend to Declan. I want to know more about him.

The romance in this book is so cute. It's definitely slow burn. No love triangle. Declan and Juliet do not like each other in the beginning so it's kind of a hate turns to love relationship? It evolved over the course of the entire book and I really liked them together. They seem to understand each other well. They help each other deal with the pain they're each feeling. I loved it.

Overall, this book was definitely a favorite of 2017 so far. If you're like me and don't love contemporary novels, I suggest you give this one a try anyway if you're feeling adventurous. The only real problem I had with the book was how much I just HATED Rowan. Other than that, I was sad anytime I had to put it down! I read basically the whole thing while I was on vacation!

Have you read this book yet? What did you think of it?


  1. OMG I WANT TO READ THIS BOOK SO BAD! I believe I am receiving it in the mail very soon so I cannot wait to dive into it especially after the multitude of positive things I've heard about it! Thanks for sharing!

    xx Anisha @ Sprinkled Pages

    1. I hope that you have gotten to read this book by now and that you loved it! It was seriously so excellent and I believe I read that there will be a book from Rev's point of view? I don't think I am making that up? I am so excited for that, I loved Rev!


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