Letters to the Lost

400p. Bloomsbury. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781681190082.
Gr 7 Up—Juliet and her mother, a globetrotting photojournalist, always sent each other handwritten letters when they were apart. After her mother is killed in a car accident on the way home from the airport, Juliet, an AP English student, continues the practice—a coping strategy that her friends and counselors are beginning to question. Declan is an auto shop student who has been court-ordered to clean the cemetery as community service after a drunk-driving incident, and he discovers one of Juliet's letters. He decides to answer it, starting an exchange reminiscent of that in the film You've Got Mail or, more recently, Becky Albertalli's novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. As the letter writing (and then emailing, chatting, and texting) continues, through pseudonyms, Juliet and Declan learn that they have much in common, but day-to-day life is another story. When they cross paths in both school and the community, their interactions are hostile, a commentary on the way students of different circles and academic levels sometimes view one another. Eventually, though, their facades unravel, and their identities are revealed. Readers will find themselves rooting for the real Declan to win Juliet's heart the same way his online persona did.
VERDICT Consider this tale of modern star-crossed love as a first purchase for YA collections.

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