“I feel like a bad friend, but I can’t help it. I can’t force what I’m feeling to fit between chapters two and six in some handbook dealing with the death of a loved one.”
Vivid and heartbreaking, Letters to the Lost, follows the lives of two teenagers in the wake of personal tragedies. Through very odd circumstances they begin a correspondence, initially through handwritten letters left in a local cemetery, and eventually through dummy email accounts. Since they are unaware of the identity of the other, they feel completely able to be open and honest about their feelings and what they are going through and what transpires is absolutely stunning.
– After the loss of her mother in a tragic car accident, Juliet shuts herself off from pretty much the entire world, except her best friend, but even their relationship is not as it once was. She is struggling with an overwhelming sense of grief combined with guilt and fear of never being able to live up to her mother’s legacy. Every day she goes to the cemetery and visits her mother’s gravesite and even leaves letters there for her.
– Declan is the quintessential ‘bad boy’ or so he would have you believe. He is dealing with his own personal tragedy, the loss of his sister and his father ending up in prison for the drunk driving incident that killed her. Declan, feeling abandoned by his mother, who has since gone on to remarry (a prick), struggles with his own feelings of guilt and isolation. He is holding onto a lot of anger as well and tends to lash out at those around him without necessarily intending to. Declan, forced to do community service work for his own drunk driving incident, ends up working at the local cemetery where he stumbles upon on of Juliet’s letters.
Watching the relationship between these two develop is absolutely beautiful. I cannot express it any better than that. I was completely blown away by Brigid Kemmerer’s writing. She is so talented and I already picked up the companion novel to this one, More Than We Can Tell, which follows one of my favorite characters from this book, Declan’s misunderstood best friend, Rev.
If you have been on the fence about picking this one up, please do. It is really just so stunning and for anyone who has lost anyone under tragic circumstances, I think a lot of the text surrounding those feelings of grief and guilt are just so relatable and really, cathartic. That’s the way it felt for me anyway. This is definitely a book I would recommend to anyone and will probably end up reading again someday. Well done!