Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading ... Letters to the Lost

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Just Finished Reading ... Letters to the Lost

Letters to the Lost
by Brigid Kemmerer

Published on April 4, 2017
by Bloomsbury

Source: ARC from publisher for review

Synopsis 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.
My take: In a weird coincidence, the last two books I've read were You've-Got-Mail-ish -- about two characters who communicate anonymously, then later meet in real life.  So, as I said in my last review, a book like this a) inevitably involves some measure of coincidence and then b) has to negotiate how and when each character figures out who the other character is in real life.

I thought Letters to the Lost handled this way more believably than Alex, Approximately. Without spoilers, I will reveal that in this book, one of the characters does figure out the identity of the other, creating a lot of tension in the story. Yes, there was an initial contrivance -- as described in the synopsis, Juliet leaves letters on her mom's grave and Declan just happens to be serving community service at the cemetery. And they attend the same school. But beyond that, the anonymous letter writing worked for me.

Letters to the Lost  was also a way darker and more emotionally intense book. Alex, Approximately does have two characters who've suffered past trauma, but at heart it's really a rom-com, while the emotional impact of Letters to the Lost is huge. It features three realistically drawn characters in a lot of pain, and the reader really feels that.

While I'm not a fan of the "romance can heal all wounds" trope, I didn't really feel that happening here. Declan and Juliet first meet through increasingly heartfelt letters and emails, then form a wary relationship at school without a hint of romance. Their relationship in real life grows very slowly from mutual mistrust to grudging friendship to just the sparks of romance.

The family relationships here were interesting too -- widowers, step-parents and foster parents all with varying degrees of emotional warmth and support. I also loved the supportive teachers that appeared in the book!

Really enjoyed this a lot and highly recommend it to those who enjoy emotionally charged stories!

15 comments:

  1. Overall, a slightly more serious take on Alex, Approximately. No wonder I'm sallivating to read both!

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    1. Yes, similar premise but this one will give you all the feels!

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  2. I don't really fall for covers anymore but this one...so pretty. I'm glad to hear you liked it too! I think I will give it a shot.

    The You Got Mail force is strong right now! Geekerrella had a little bit of that too.

    For What It's Worth

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    1. That's so weird! Haven't read that one....

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  3. Love the cover of this one, and your review was in depth. I'm actually itching to read this one from your review! I recently read Kathleen Fuller's Written in Love which also revolves around letters. So loving this theme going on now.

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  4. gaaaah I feel like I have to drop everything and read this asap >.<

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  5. I did love this book, but there was the one OTT moment which I did not feel was necessary. It by no means ruined the story for me, because I was so in love with all the characters. I have heard rumors that Rev is getting his own book too *jumps up and down*
    Sam @ WLABB

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    1. Agree. But I was willing to overlook that.
      What? A book for Rev? That's awesome!

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  6. I'm super excited to read this! It seems very enjoyable and I loved Thicker Than Water and have heard such great things about it too! Thanks so much for sharing Jen!

    xx Anisha @ Sprinkled Pages

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  7. I really loved this one and am excited to start Alex, Approximately next! Sometimes I don't even read blurbs so I didn't even realize they had similar themes. lol

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  8. I'm so excited for this one! Fab review, Jen!
    Megan @ http://wanderingsofabookbird.blogspot.co.uk/

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  9. Ha, I do love the You've Got Mail trope! I also love it when books do the blended family aspect well - will probably check out this book soonish. Lovely review!

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