Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Juliet Young has always written 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 of them knows that they're not actually strangers. When real life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart. This emotional, compulsively-readable romance will sweep everyone off their feet.
Letters to the Lost was an impulse request on Netgalley on my part. I hadn’t heard of it before but the pretty cover and interesting description got me interested. I am always glad for a book I’m unfamiliar with to surprise me and make me love it.
Letters to the Lost is very much a heartbreaking read. I was sat through a lot of it close to tears as my heart broke for both Declan and Juliet, but then I was also completely hooked by their anonymous exchange and the will they won’t they nature of their reveal to one another. I couldn’t but the book down and it has led me to a bit of a YA reread thing but I love it for that fact.
I think the reason the book clicked for me is because both characters were flawed and heartbroken and lost and putting on brave faces. Juliet has lost a mother and is lost without her, even though her mother was home so infrequently the letters they write to one another was something she continued to do even after her death. For Declan, he is cast as a ‘bad boy’ and a rebel who is going nowhere when really he is just as lost and blames himself for the loss he is also suffering. Ugh, the loss was utterly heartbreaking, honestly, when they both spoke about it in the book I was in tears.
The story is strong in this as well. It’s not simply girl falls for an anonymous letter writer. Its girl falls for mysterious new friend but also is drawn to Declan and is dealing with the loss of her mother. And it’s boy likes girl but is crazy closed off from the world and has some major parent issues that need to get addressed more and struggles to come to terms with his loss whilst he has barely any support structure in place. It’s a really great book about grief and the consequences.
I mean, I had issues with the book. It seemed to be a bit OTT at times with Juliet’s reactions to big reveals, yet she is a teenager and she is still going through the loss of her mother so I could excuse her breakdowns. And Declan was so stoic and closed off and his issues could have been resolved far sooner if he was willing to open up and trust those around him. I got why he didn’t but ugh, words are your friend people! Why does no one ever get this?
Also, I wish the best friends featured more in the book. They were mentioned and had roles to play in the book so they definitely didn’t appear and disappear as the book developed but I did feel like they could have played a bigger role. I wanted to know more about Rev most of all, he was such an interesting character and I don’t feel like he fully had a chance to come into his own. And Juliet’s best friend didn’t get to appear enough so I can’t even think of her name off the top of my head but instead have to look it up. To be fair, that doesn’t mean much, I am bad with names, but even so!
So, yeah, if you're wanting a sweet and emotional (it can be both, ok) contemporary YA then this is the book for you. The characters are interesting without being annoying. The story and format will hook you. You’ll be on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster really and I’m telling you you’ll enjoy every moment.
What your favourite contemporary YA that you’ve read lately? And don’t you love it when a book surprises you?