Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Audiobook Review: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Title: Letters to the Lost (Letters to the Lost #1)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Pages: 391
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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. 

You may be wondering how I ended up reading a YA contemporary romance novel since we all know this isn't my normal kind of read. Last month I went to my first ever book club meeting. The first month we read a YA fantasy, which is right up my alley. This month the club selected Letters to the Lost and here we are.

Letters to the Lost is about Juliet, a teenager whose mom died tragically in a car accident on her way home from a work trip. Juliet has always blamed herself for begging her mom to return early and continues to cope by writing letters and leaving them at her mom's grave. One day there's a response to one of her letters and, after a brief period of anger over her privacy being intruded upon, Juliet begins to write to the mysterious person known only as The Dark.

Of course, the mysterious other person is the romantic interest, also known as Declan. Declan has his own issues after his sister died and his father went to jail. Basically, they both have stuff to work through. But Declan has a reputation for being a bad guy at school and that's all Juliet can see him as. As they write to each other anonymously, they being to catch feelings, drama ensues, etc.

Juliet was a great character who was super easy to sympathize with! I could totally understand her actions and how she could blame herself. I can't imagine losing my mom, especially if I felt like it could be my fault in some way. I also understood the difficulty Juliet had with taking up hobbies she'd previously enjoyed. I think the author did a great job of painting a picture of a young girl who was grieving.

Declan was also a sympathetic character, but I did have a hard time with his obvious anger issues and the way that no one seemed to go out of their way to help him work through his issues. I hated the way that he treated people and had no desire to be anything other than what everyone expected. I can understand why he had the anger issues that he did, but I have a difficult time with characters who are so aggressive all the time. I was glad that he was eventually able to let down some walls.

The mystery pen pal storyline was definitely intriguing and I think it's why I was able to enjoy this book when I really am not a fan of contemporary romance. I liked the added level of non-angsty drama and how the anonymous connection allowed two people who would never have been friends get to know each other. I didn't care for how it started to drag out a bit near the end, though.

Although the direction the book ended up going was a bit predictable, I did still enjoy it and I kept listening, wanting to know how things would wrap up. Speaking of which, I really did want there to be a bit more resolution to both these characters' stories. The ending was fine, I guess, but after such a long book, I'd hope for a bit more... something. I did see that there's a second book in the series, but I haven't decided whether to pick it up yet.

Overall, I did enjoy this YA contemporary romance that I never, ever would have read without a book club forcing me to do it. I did find it a bit predictable and drawn out, and I never really fell in love with Declan, although it seems like everyone else swoons over him. Still, if I had to read a contemporary romance, I'm glad it was this one!