Reviewed by Zoe
To most, May twenty-fifth is just another day. In Brigid Kemmerer’s novel, Letters to the Lost, May twenty-fifth is the most important day. It’s the day that connects two very lost souls together in a cemetery.
Enter Juliet: a girl who is suffering from the recent loss of her mother. To Juliet, her mother is the world. Juliet idolizes her photo-journalist mother, and aspires to follow in her footsteps. On May twenty-fifth, Juliet’s mom is killed in a hit-and-run accident. Since that day, Juliet releases her emotional turmoil through the beautiful and haunting letters she writes to her mother and leaves on her grave.
Enter Declan: the local high school’s stereotypical “bad-boy”, who actually has a lot more bottled up on the inside than it seems. On May twenty-fifth, Declan gets drunk and drives his dad’s truck into a building. As punishment, Declan is court-ordered to clean and mow the local cemetery. He is cleaning up when he stumbles upon one of Juliet’s letters to her mother. And he decides to write back.
This sparks an intense and anonymous relationship between these two teens.
As crazy as this might seem, being a book-aholic does have its drawbacks. After reading so many YA books, I can say that A LOT of books are unoriginal. This is not a bad thing if the author can properly execute the story so that it isn’t completely predictable; it’s even better when an author can draw readers in so that they feel emotionally invested in the characters. While this novel does have its cliches, the overall storyline is original and enticing. It was super relatable and the characters were very complex and deep. I tend to shy away from books told from a boy’s perspective because I feel like I can better relate to a female protagonist. Although this story is told from both Juliet’s and Declan’s perspective, I didn’t feel disconnected or uninterested in Declan’s story.
Overall I would say that Letters to the Lost is very refreshing. Although it is a love story, it is not a romance. The stronger themes are about personal growth and healing, and a really deep friendship. I don’t recommend this book if you are looking for a book centered around a romance. Another thing: this book isn’t the most action-filled. This isn’t a fit for someone looking for a book with a rapid storyline. This is because Letters to the Lost focuses on the internal conflicts and thoughts of the two main characters. Most of the book is spent describing the interactions between Juliet and Declan, which leaves little room for development outside of that. There are secondary characters, but they really take a backseat role. One of my favorite parts of this book is that the kick-off to every chapter is an intense message—wether it be by email or handwritten letter— sent from one main character to the other. The only drawback that this novel has is the sometimes predictable actions or the slight cliches that come up every once in a while. I feel like I knew how parts of the plot were going to play out long before the characters were even thinking about them, which was a little frustrating. I also don’t think that this occurred so much that it took a lot away from the book.