“Juliet Young writes letters to her mother… and leaves them at her grave. She never imagined someone would write back…
I fell in love with this book from the very first word. I like to strike balance among the books I read and typically vary my reading material from historical fiction, mystery, biography, suspense, and fantasy depending on my mood. When I picked up this book, I was craving something a little more deep and serious. Based on the synopsis, I was intrigued and this book definitely did not disappoint. The idea of characters becoming close without ever having met or knowing who each other’s true identities are was a brilliant and fascinating concept.
In tone and feeling this book was thoughtful and painful yet, also quietly hopeful. It is a story about love, loss, confusion, heartache, grief, anger and ultimately redemption. It is a story about the complexities of life and of people. In terms of genre, I would describe this book as mature YA fiction that even adults can enjoy (the hero and heroine are both seventeen and in their last year of high school but have each survived experiences that made them sometimes seem older than their years). The writing was masterful, beautiful, and poignant. It flowed so smoothly and was wonderfully conversational that I felt like I had fallen into the story and was right beside these characters. Additionally, the pacing was perfect with every page and scene adding value to the story. I loved the vivid imagery and the way she conveyed emotion. The characters were complex, compelling, and highly relatable. The story was intriguing, surprising, and ultimately deeply satisfying. This is the first book I have read by Brigid Kemmerer and I will definitely be reading more of her stories.
The letters the characters wrote to each other were always thought provoking and at times heart wrenching. There is a raw vulnerability in opening up to someone especially someone who doesn’t know you but you feel you can trust. It felt like two lost souls finding safety and understanding with each other. The letters felt like the only way they were able to connect with the world outside their pain and struggles.
This story addresses a lot of important themes such as friendship, loyalty, betrayal, family life and death. It is also about struggling to find your place to belong, acceptance and learning to make amends. Untimely, this story is about the journey towards healing. The characters were very well developed and likeable. The heroine is struggling in a world without her mother — a parent she’d lost to a dangerous job she kept choosing to return to even at the risk that one day it might leave her daughter without a mother. And the hero is struggling with loss as well, and judgement from everyone around him. He’s automatically labeled as a screw up and lives life having to prove himself every step of the way and it’s exhausting and demoralizing. But in the midst of their pain comes these moments of hope that give them reason to think that maybe they can help each other come through to the other side.
The letters and their choice to remain a mystery to each other allows them to open up in ways they’d never have been able to face. It gives them a safe zone without judgement, labels, or bias. Just one person spilling their heart to another — connecting, sharing, trying to rationalize, understand, come to terms with the things that have happened to them and the people they loved.
This book stayed with me long after I finished reading it and it has become one of my favorite stories. I was sad when the book was over because I enjoyed curling up in bed and spending time with these characters. Overall, it was a fantastic reading experience by an amazing author and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a story that is going to stir all your emotions.