Today's From My Library post is about "Letters to the Lost" by Brigid Kemmerer
Here is the lovely cover and official 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.
This book grabbed my attention and refused to let go. I am not always a big fan of YA contemporary, mostly because I'm picky with my drama and I generally prefer a story with a magical element. But this story felt classic. Timeless. I loved it.
I love to wander cemeteries. There is a unique peace I feel in those quiet spaces, and I like the history as well as seeing the items family members choose to leave by the headstones. When I vacation, I like to stop at as many cemeteries as possible.
I am weird.
I've learned to embrace it.
Anyway, the idea of a relationship starting on the premise of exchanging letters at a cemetery was fascinating to me., so I snatched this book up. I immediately liked that these two characters are able to communicate the deep, dark, horrible, gut-wrenching things in their lives without actually even coming face to face. And while I guessed some of the twists, I enjoyed every moment of the journey.
Declan was my favorite character, and I loved his best friend--who actually has a book of his own :) Declan is the bad-boy, tough-guy that everyone in school is afraid of and all the teachers are wary of. He just felt very real to me, and even when I didn't agree with his actions, I understood them. Trauma is very real, and Declan responded accordingly. Juliet also felt real and I loved watching the relationship between her and her father change throughout the book. Also, the progression of Declan and Juliet's relationship made total sense--especially the pacing.
I love books that remind me we are all people and we all have struggles and pain. We should not judge others. We should show kindness and understanding to those around us, because we never know what they're going through. And I love the reminder that even small kindnesses can go a long way. This book did that for me.
I like to give include a little bit about the content, just so you as the reader can decide if a book is right for you. This one includes some language, smoking, talk about drinking, death, and some heavy themes and topics--including, obviously, death of loved ones. That being said, I thought things were handled very well by the author and the ending of the book left me feeling joy and peace.
Dealing with grief and the trauma of our past is a very personal thing, but this book was a good reminder to me that we all have people around us who can help us heal and grow in spite of the hard things life throws at us.