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Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Miss Shayne returns this week with another review!  This title is new to teen collection at the library.

This book follows the individual stories of Juliet and Declan and how they become intertwined.
Juliet’s mother recently passed away and to help cope with the sadness, Juliet writes letters to her mother and leaves them at her grave. One day, a letter is discovered by Declan, who is doing community service in the graveyard after getting drunk and crashing a truck into a building. Declan reads the letter, relates to what Juliet wrote, and writes a response. This begins an anonymous correspondence between the two.

When they are in school, these two don’t get along. Juliet is an artistic student who has had a hard time getting back into the swing of things since her mother’s passing, and Declan is an outcast who seems to only have one friend: Rev. Even though they run with different crowds at school, Declan and Juliet get along when they are writing anonymous letters to one another. In fact, each of them feels like the other understands them better than anyone else ever could.

BEEF:
Declan claims to be nice under his “tough guy” façade, but he is constantly starting conflict with everyone else. He is such a rage-filled individual; it’s no wonder everyone is afraid of him.
Juliet’s best friend Rowan is insufferable. Whenever there’s conflict, she can’t address it herself; she always has to threaten to get an adult involved. I found this irritating and juvenile. Juliet always goes along with what Rowan says and if Rowan is being hostile toward Declan, you can bet Juliet is about to be as well.

Even though there are a few minor annoyances, this book addresses some thought-provoking issues:

Don’t let one bad day define you. Because Declan got drunk and crashed his father’s truck into a building and has to do community service, everyone views him as a burnout. Because everyone treats him this way, he starts to view himself this way, when, in reality, he just had one really bad day and is a good kid when it comes down to it.

Burnouts receive no protection when being harassed. If someone is hostile towards another person, it is generally considered bad and intervention may be necessary. However, if someone is being hostile toward someone who has a record, everyone looks the other way and the only intervention that will take place is if the person with the record lashes out at their oppressor. I’m not saying this is true in all cases, but it was the case in this book, and it is something that could happen.

Despite its few flaws, this books was a good read.

--Reviewed by Miss Shayne

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