Can letters be the remedy?
Brigid Kemmerer‘s Letters to the Lost was my September month’s buddy read with Diti Shah. I was skeptical initially – assumed the book to be cheesy elaboration of romance through letters (I was reminded of “Mujhse dosti karoge”!). The book is nothing like cute high school romance, rather one where your heart will bleed and sob for the protagonists.
The book opens with Declan Murphy who has been sentenced to communal service in cleaning a graveyard. A typical rowdy student, he finds trouble with authority everywhere. With stroke of luck, he finds a letter on a grave and is seized by a compulsion to reply back. The letter is received by Juliet Young, who had written it to her deceased mother, who was a famous photojournalist. Juliet is also a photography enthusiast and always-on-good-books student. The sudden unexpected reply from a stranger puts her already chaotic world in frenzy and she starts communicating via letters. Thus a pen-pal relationship is set to motion between the “The Dark” and the “Cemetery girl”.
The letters evolve into anonymous emails. The communication between Declan and Juliet evolves from loss of parent to painful past and regrets. Slowly and steadily, they learn to trust and relate to one another. Declan’s friend Rev initially expresses his nonchalance to the pen-pal relationship but later gives in. Similarly, Juliet’s friend Rowan advises against writing to letters to complete stranger. They start to fall for each another, without having an iota of idea who the other one is. The story spins slow tales with individual confrontation with past and gradual uncovering of uncomfortable truths.
Brigid Kemmerer’s book perfectly unravels the truths about Juliet and Declan’s pasts and the consequences they are forced to face. The sense of isolation revolving around family issues, personal grief, anger and misunderstandings sets the tone of the book. The characters have been layered with individual shortcomings and their own state of denial. Juliet and Rowan, both seem obnoxious in the beginning; however they both change over the time to become more compassionate. Apart from the steady-fast camaraderie of the protagonists, I absolutely adored both the teachers – Mrs Hillard and Mr Garibaldi. Its for teachers like them, the struggling students sail through and reach the shore.
at the end of the book, I felt that Rev’s needed a spin-off. I was not aware that there is one! I hope to grab “More than we can tell” soon to know more about Rev’s past and how he came to become the soft at heart, tough by look guy. If you looking for light breezy YA read, do give it a try. The book gets intense at parts, but will definitely warm up your soul in the end.
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Cheers to Reading!