Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Published: expected April 4 2017
Source: publishers via NetGalley
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.
A grief-heavy young adult contemporary, Brigid Kemmerer's newest novel Letters to the Lost is a step away from her usual supernatural genre. It's not exactly an easy look; both main characters are struggling with family, life, and growing up in addition to their losses. Juliet has just lost her mother, Declan has lost his sister, his father is in jail, and his stepfather hates him. By way of leaving letters in a graveyard, these two lost teens forge a bond by communicating with each other by letter, and then email -- all the while without knowing who the other correspondent is.
The overall premise of Letters to the Lost is engaging, and though the various storylines (both romantic and nonromantic) verge a bit predictable in how they develop and conclude, the characters have heart. Juliet can be a bit frustrating in her slow realizations about people in her life and in her general stubbornness, and Declan seems determined to fight the entire world. But they're two teens and they're human and they're just doing the best they can in two very shitty situations. Kemmerer's characters aren't perfect but that's because they are authentic. Though I found this to be just a bit too long and a bit too predictable to fully love, Letters to the Lost is heartfelt and realistic YA contemporary story.