Thursday, 25 May 2017


Title: Letters To The Lost
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: Romance, Teens & YA
Publisher: Bloomsbury 
Release Date: 6th April 2017

BLURB 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.


I initially felt drawn to the covers, both the lighter blue background and the darker one too. Then once I read the blurb it really poked my curiosity. . and felt compelled to read it. I don't normally favour contemporary but I really fancied reading this one.

There are two versions of the cover, one has a lighter blue background than the other. I have featured both covers below along with my comments on them. In my opinion either of these covers would stand out enough to make me pick up the book and read the blurb.

The two central characters in the book are Juliet Young, who is struggling to cope with her mother's death. Juliet is so upset she cannot even touch a camera, even though before her mother's death a camera was something she always had in her hand. The trouble is her mother was quite a famous photojournalist, who traveled around the world to take the pictures people needed to see, in such places as war torn countries or disasters. Juliet was so used to sending letters to her mother when she was away due to her job, which was quite a lot of the time that she is getting comfort from writing letters to her mother and leaving them at her grave. 
The other main character is Declan Murphy who used to be a "good boy" but he changed when his little sister Kerry died in a car accident. Declan's father is in prison (you'll discover why when you read the book). Sadly and undeservedly Declan blames himself for his baby sister's death. With his dad in prison, his mum is back on the dating scene and after a few disastrous dates she has met and fallen in love with Alan. It's the evening of the day they married that Declan gets drunk, takes his fathers car and crashes it. He is given community service, which consists of him helping to keep the cemetery tidy, by moving any mementos left on the graves and then cutting the grass, under the supervision of Frank Melendez.
It's whilst he is at work doing his community service at the cemetery, clearing the personal stuff from the graves that he comes across the grave of Zoe Rebecca Thorne.
Declan decides to read the letter, and he empathizes with the writer of the letter and how he feels about the loss of his little sister. Declan feels compelled to write something back, so he does. This is the beginning of a "relationship" between Juliet and Declan. Initially Juliet is furious someone has read the letter she left for her mother but the pair soon become addicted to writing to each other. Eventually they exchange email address and communicate that way, though they both keep their anonymity by choosing "nick names" Declan is "The Dark" and Juliet is "Cemetery Girl" . Both discover clues about the other but neither wants to reveal themselves for quite a long time. It's ironic that both Juliet and Declan attend the same school and would rarely speak to each other, yet in the emails they quite literally pour their hearts out to each other and become supportive friends for each other.

Both characters also have support at school, though they maybe have trouble seeing it as such to begin with. Mr Gerardo is the photography teacher whom Juliet was originally doing the photography course with. After her mother died, Juliet turned away from anything photography related. Mr Gerardo is constantly asking her to come back, it's not too late to complete her assignments. When Juliet refuses he still continues to try to encourage her to put a camera in her hands and take some photographs. It turns out Mr Gerardo is a great support to Juliet when she finally develops a mystery reel of film from her mothers personal camera!
The school support for Declan is his English teacher Mrs Hillard. She realises that Declan has a fairly genuine interest in the books they are studying and it very good at analysing them too. Yet in class Declan tends to do the bare minimum to pass. Mrs Hillard recognises that with the right sort of gentle encouragement he could do so much more!

Other characters I loved and that in my opinion stood out were little Marisol Melendez, the young daughter of Frank Melendez (Declan's supervisor at the cemetery). Marisol really takes to Declan, as children don't make presumptions like other people do about him. Declan has a small circle of people he trusts. Rev is the guy he hangs around with at school, and he has his own secrets and history to deal with. Things improved for Rev when he was first fostered but then adopted by Geoff and Kristin. They do foster all/any children who need a home. Their latest foster child is Babydoll, and Rev does enjoy looking after her, as do Declan and Juliet. Declan regularly stays over at Rev's or eats at Rev's too. It's as if Geoff and Kirsten are "foster caring him" he certainly seems to be able to speak more easily to them.

This book is told from two points of view, Juliet's and Declan's. Until I started doing my review I hadn't realised so much happened within this book. 
One scene I thought was brilliant was when Frank Melendez's daughter Marisol, first meets Declan. The way she rushes up to him and hugs him. It's bitter sweet for Declan as by hugging him he instantly thinks of his own sister Kerry. At another point in the book Declan meets Carmen, Frank's wife and she jokingly tells Declan that Marisol has told her she is going to marry him! I think its great the way Carmen accepts Declan and doesn't judge him for having to do community service. 

I loved so much about this book, so it's been hard to just choose a few parts to share with you. The first one I wanted to share was right near the beginning of the book is when Declan thinks about his senior photograph in the school yearbook. . . thinking it will be "most likely to be a felon" written underneath it! 
I feel compelled to share is a fairly amusing one . . . where Declan is repairing a mower at the cemetery and Marisol is there repeating exactly what he says and pretends she is the one doing the fixing. Declan with the "bad boy" reputation just plays along and actually enjoys himself. He also shows his softer side when helping Rev take care of Babydoll.
I found it amusing when Declan and Juliet kept literally bumping into each other yet not realising that they were in fact sending emails to each other! I both loved and hated this fact. I found it funny when they were in person talking like strangers yet at the same time new so many things about each other. Then in other parts I was so frustrated I wanted to shake Juliet and Declan whilst screaming at the top of my voice "How can you not realise?".
Another great part of the book is centred around the dates of Juliet's mother's death and Declan's accident too. I had already pondered what this hints at. This probably sounds a little vague but all will be revealed when you read the book for yourselves.

My initial impression of Alan (Declan's stepfather) is that he is ignorant, domineering, uncaring and perhaps even abusive. I hated the way Alan spoke to Declan, always putting him down and picking faults with his behaviour etc. Then as the book and it's plot unfurl you learn more about both sides of the Alan/Declan relationship. It makes you rethink your initial assessment of Alan. I realised I was "jumping to conclusions" or being guilty of preconceived ideas. This is a theme throughout the book as Juliet and Declan are both guilty of hasty conclusions about those around them. An example of this is when Declan visits Frank's home, and is surprised to see that Frank and the Melendez family live in a middle class area somewhat like the one Declan lives in, rather than "the projects" where Declan assumed Frank would live.

My immediate reaction upon finishing the book was that I totally loved it! It is sentimental, and highly emotional tear-jerker in certain parts. This book grabs your heart, squeezes it tight until you think it cannot get any better or more emotionally charged and then keeps squeezing and holding on to the very last words.


As I said above in my review I do like both covers. I love a good byline so I love that about the lighter blue cover, yet I prefer the darker blue background with the title in lighter blue as opposed to the lighter background with the bright pink title colour. I think the flowers on both covers being made out of letters is brilliant. It fits with the whole, people visit graves to leave flowers for loved ones. Juliet's letters are her version of flowers that other people take to lay on the graves of loved one.
So to sum up in a perfect/ideal world I would have the darker blue cover but add the byline "The darkest secrets, The fiercest love" to it. 

So which cover do YOU prefer?
And why?

1 comment:

  1. I like the simplicity of the darker cover, but agree, both are god.