The time has come to pay tribute to Brigid Kemmerer. I just finished another one of her Young Adult books, swept up the pieces of my shattered heart, and am experiencing that familiar numbness that I always feel after saying goodbye to her characters.
Each of her YA books, Letters to the Lost, More Than We Can Tell, and Call it What You Want are stories of high school students with broken lives. Each have a guy and a girl who meet in an unusual way while grappling with his-and-her individual pain. The characters are always extremely smart, deep, sensitive, and possess an inner strength. Sometimes these traits conflict with each other. There are often issues with self-esteem and there are always parents whose choices are the cause of these challenges. But the stories are not about criticizing parents. They are a reminder that respect is earned and everyone, including parents, is going through something.
Letters to the Lost: Declan and Juliet’s story. They meet in the cemetery where Declan is doing community service and Juliet is visiting her mother’s grave, leaving behind letters she thinks no one will read. It’s spellbinding. Please click HERE to read my review and learn more about this 10 Star book.
Call It What You Want: This book is a standalone. It is Rob and Maegan’s story. Both are social outcasts. Rob is suffering the fallout from his father swindling most of the townspeople out of their savings. Maegan is unwelcome and full of regret after cheating on her SATs. They are paired up for a math assignment when no one else wants to come near them. You can read more about their story in my review HERE.
And then there is More Than We Can Tell, which I finished this morning. This is part two of Letters to the Lost. It is Rev and Emma’s story. Rev is Declan’s best friend. He’s eighteen and the survivor of abuse. His body is a map of scars and homemade tattoos of Bible verses courtesy of his cruel father, a religious zealot who can talk his way out of anything. Rev was adopted by a loving couple, Geoff and Kristin, who go above and beyond to make him feel safe and worthy, but a lot of hurt still lies buried beneath the surface. When Rev’s father tries to contact him, sending passive-aggressive messages full of emotional venom, Rev takes a walk to cool down. Sitting on a patch of grass near a church he meets Emma and her dog, Texas. Emma is dealing with an online stalker and her parents are on the verge of divorce. Two wounded young people who feel misunderstood and lonely, Rev and Emma begin meeting each evening to talk and to listen. 9.5/10 Stars
Of course there is more to all of these stories. Things escalate and emotions heighten. But the real triumph is in the characters’ development and growth. Brigid Kemmerer taps into feelings that all of us have experienced, even as adults. Feelings of being lost, unfairly treated, ignored, and underestimated. And though these young people are all victims of a sort, they must still face the consequences of their own decisions, usually being called upon to help someone else.
I highly recommend these books for anyone age 16 and older. They are masterpieces of modern fiction.