Book Review: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer (spoiler-free)

33857632Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer IS BY FAR MY FAVOURITE BOOK OF 2017 (no I am not joking)! First of all, I want to say a massive THANK YOU to the fabulous team at Bloomsbury for sending me a surprise copy. I’ve been looking forward to read it for so long because after getting a glimpse of the sample online I was immediately hooked. The story is heart-felt, emotional and brutally beautiful (in a good way). It has the ‘wow factor’ that I crave for in a special YA contemporary. You may ask, “Why should I read this book?”, well my friend, read on and find out!


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 Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Publication Date: April 6 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
RRP: $16.99 AUD
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

This. Book. Is. Phenomenal. I read it in one sitting and literally ditched all my responsibilities as an uni student to do so. The story of Letters to the Lost was full of happy and heartbreaking surprises, which gave me all the feels. Kemmerer tells a brilliant and breathtakingly beautiful tale of characters that were so real, complex and multi-faceted. The dual POV was also a delight to read. (Also, in case you’re wondering – the book is not told in letters, it’s only featured at the front of the chapters.)

The story begins with a bittersweet ‘encounter’ where Declan Murphy, a guy doing his community service at the local cemetery, finds a girl’s letter to her mom who recently passed away. After leaving a 2-word reply, he leaves the letter back where it was.

When Juliet Young finds out that someone casually scribbled on her letter, her private letter to her mom, she was pissed. Like really pissed. But still, she finds the courage and returns her annoyance to this stranger and as a result – KABOOM – an anonymous friendship was born.

I am a sucker for good old hand-written letters. The friendship between Declan and Juliet, although anonymous, is portrayed beautifully. It reminds me how good it is to let out your thoughts without worrying about it biting back at you. And get to know the other person in an unbelievably deep level that isn’t hindered by prejudice and judgement. It is a form of friendship that is so pure and GOOD. My heart literally bled when things got messy.

Other than our main guy and gal, they each also have awesome besties: Declan’s best friend, Rev, is honestly one of the sweetest cinnamon rolls I have encountered (oh and there’s Ronan Lynch, can’t forget about that one can I). Rev has always been there for Declan through thick and thin, even when he himself has quite a few troubles himself.

Juliet on the other hand has Rowan, who is cheerful and supportive and constantly helps Juliet with her depression ever since her mother’s passing. Honestly people, the friendship in this book is pure gold and down to earth and healthy af – just this fact alone makes it a 5 star + perfection.

Grief* is a main theme of the book. Both Declan and Juliet suffer their own kind of grief. They both learn to rely on each other by confessing their thoughts and hidden sadness through written words. As noted in the synopsis, these two in fact, are not strangers at all, they go to the same school and kind of know each other. Declan, who is known to have a record and is perceived as aggressive and has perhaps the most awful attitude at school. Whereas Juliet, who gave up photography – which is her entirely life, a life before her mother’s death. Both of them are breaking apart with sadness, grief, blame and more sadness. Their emotions are raw and written with roaring details, and seeing their development as the book goes on is something so wonderfully crafted I wish I could rate this with 6 stars.

I also love how the characters are out-right flawed in a way that I’ve come to appreciate them even more. Although the pace of the book is quick (it might be slow for others because I read it so quickly), I got to see the heaps of growth of the characters and how they change over a short time.

This book should be read by everyone. There. I said it. Because look: We as humans all want to show the world what we want to show, and at times even go on extremes to hide things that we don’t want to show. Why? Because we fear to be judged for it, get called out for being ridiculous and what not. This is exactly the point of this book – it allows the reader to really have a feel of the power of misunderstanding and how terrible things can get if people treat people based on a few facts. Believe me or not, comparing 13 Reasons Why to Letters to the Lost is like comparing a raw potato to golden crispy fries/chips/whatever-you-call-them-in-your-countries. The whole point of holding onto good friendship is brought out so beautifully and the message of “you don’t know the whole story so don’t go around treating people like crap.” is also cleverly delivered.

Declan reminds me a lot of Ronan Lynch – angry all the time, broken on the inside, tough on the outside, trashy home life, constantly blames himself and simply doesn’t think he deserves to be loved. Basically everyone (even everything?) that Declan comes across turns to hate him – WITHOUT KNOWING WHO HE REALLY IS OR EVEN MAKE AN EFFORT TO GET TO KNOW HIM. That pissed me off and I just wanna give Declan a big hug and feed him chocolate.

Another thing I really enjoyed is the amount of car stuff is involved (OH HEY FANS OF THE RAVEN CYCLE YOU MIGHT WANNA CHECK THIS BOOK OUT) – Declan is also in a way like Adam Parrish with his way with fixing mowers, engines and cars. Okay I’ll shut up about TRC now *whispers* never.

The writing is magnificent, my eyes were glued to page after page and I really didn’t want it to end. I would beg for a spin-off just because how much I love the characters and how richly described and complex they are.

I’ll probably gush all day and all night about how amazingly written this book is and how much I love it. I was expecting it to be good but NO WHERE CLOSE TO HOW EXCEPTIONALLY BEAUTIFUL IT TRULY IS!

Breathtakingly gorgeous, heart-felt, at times bittersweet and down-right hopeful. Ugh I recommend getting a tub of ice cream from the shops before you start reading.

GO. READ. IT. Please. And let me know how you find it!


*NOTE: I care about my readers so please, if you are or you think you are having trouble with your mental health of any kind, please understand that this book may have minor triggers of grief – as I’ve said before grief is a main theme of the book.


5 thoughts on “Book Review: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer (spoiler-free)

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