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.
SOURCE: ARC provided by publisher for review
Juliet – It is hard to watch yet easy not to judge her for the way she is going through and processing her grief over the loss of her mother. Though all loss is hard, losing a parent when you are younger (I’m lumping myself in this – I was 32 when mine passed) changes something. You lose someone you had to help you with life choices. You lose showing them you can make it on your own, possible weddings, grandchildren, etc. There are so many things you won’t get to share with them that you thought you would. I was bothered somewhat that others may have not seen she needed to move on in her own time and maybe pushed when they shouldn’t have. Everyone has their own triggers but as a whole her support system backed off when they felt they had pushed too much.
Declan – I could feel his isolation through the pages and though some people are introverts and choose that life you could tell his was forced upon him. He was the scape goat for others to blame for negative feelings, etc and he runs with it to protect himself. It hurts that someone could be so judged at such a young age and so many want to just write him off without a second glance.
Trigger warning for anyone who struggles with books on loss, this entire book is filled with it and what happens because of it. For me books like this might make me cry a little (or sometimes a lot) but I find them cathartic.
Declan’s family left much to be desired, specifically his stepfather. When you enter a ready made family you hope to be accepted but if you get some push back from the children that should make you want to work harder, not throw away the key so to speak.
My main/really one issue is the development of Juliet’s processing of her mother’s final days. I won’t talk about what is discussed to avoid spoilers but I felt it came on so late in the story that it felt rushed to make it all fit. Some of that information I felt could have possibly changed so much of how other things played out if given just a little more time.
Overall a wonderfully sad and hopeful story. Definitely pick this one up.