Book Talk: More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Talk: More Than We Can Tell by Brigid KemmererMore Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Letters to the Lost #2
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on March 6, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay...until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.

When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling.

Before reading More Than We Can Tell, I reread Letters to the Lost, and omg I had forgotten how freaking good that book was. Even on a reread, I totally couldn’t put it down, and I felt all the feels. There’s little better than when a fave passes the reread test. As such, I can’t help but compare the two, so I can say that I preferred Letters to the Lost. However, More Than We Can Tell is also a phenomenal contemporary novel, just one that builds much more slowly but oh does it get you by the end.

Though I loved Rev from the first book, it did take me some time to really get sucked into More Than We Can Tell. I wasn’t bored or unhappy with it, but I didn’t have that compulsive need to keep reading until I got 150-200 pages into it, which is about the time that Rev and Emma really start to communicate and the plot really begins to move. There’s nothing wrong with a book having a slow burn, but I do like to mention it so people don’t give up if they find the opening slow.

Unlike Letters to the LostMore Than We Can Tell tackles a whole load of difficult subjects. The former deals pretty exclusively with grief in some of its facets, but More Than We Can Tell goes into child abuse, sexual abuse, bullying, divorce, and online harassment. That’s a lot of stuff, and I think that this is both a strength and weakness of the book. Sometimes, by tackling so much, clarity is lost and some of the elements aren’t handled as fully, but it does also lend additional depth of experience.

Rev, obviously, we already know (probably—maybe you didn’t read book one but I do not live that way so I’m just going to assume you did), and it’s rather arresting being in his head. To his peers, he’s this goth kid who looks like the grim reaper and doesn’t talk much; he’s weird, but not the kind of weird even bullies really want to mess with. From Declan’s POV and even Juliet’s in Letters to the Lost, he’s this incredibly sweet, supportive guy who has been through some shit but really seems like an emotional rock. Getting to know him in his own POV is…rough. He very much does not have his shit together, and he’s still very much impacted by his abusive father after a decade. It’s realistic and painful, and it’s hard to watch this sweet kid have to deal with his psychopath of a father again.

Emma, meanwhile, is an entirely new character, and she did take some time to really grow on me. She’s a gamer (which is part of what threw me initially, because I wasn’t sure what these two would have in common), and she dreams of being a game designer like her father. Though she’s only in high school, she’s designed her own game that a few hundred people actually play, where she’s made both friends and enemies (aka one of those sexist asswaffles who thinks women can’t game). On top of that, tensions in her family have run high for her ages, with her judgmental, controlling mother and neglectful father.

Often in YA romances, they’re founded on direct commonalities of experience: either they’re going through the same sort of experience together (e.g. a trip, a quest) or they truly understand each other because they have similar past experiences. Juliet and Declan bonded over their shared experiences with grief. Rev and Emma have incredibly different pasts, and they’re not going through the same experiences. In fact, their plots scarcely intersect. Their bond is built out of listening and supporting in a time when neither felt like they could talk to anyone else. In that way, there’s a real thread to Letters to the Lost. I do really like Rev and Emma, though I’ll admit this isn’t a major ship for me.

Where the feels really wallop you in the heartspace are the family and the friendship moments. And also those absolute bullshit things that happen to the two of them because this world is fucked. But anyway. Rev’s parents are fucking national treasures, and I adore them, as is Emma’s dog, Texas. Matthew, the new foster kid at the Fletcher’s house ends up being such a great character, though I wish we’d gotten a bit more of his story (book three maybe???).

At times, this book was sooooo frustrating. It’s one of those where you’re reading and sometimes just moaning nooooooooo at the book, because you don’t want them to do the thing and they’re so totally going to do the thing. It’s absolutely believable and doesn’t feel like it was done for melodrama, but you just want to shield them from the world because it really doesn’t deserve them. There is a nice balance in the conclusion between plot elements with unexpectedly quiet resolutions and those with really big scary ones. I like when authors remember that everything doesn’t end with a bang.

After I read Letters to the Lost, I remember thinking to myself that I needed to read more Kemmerer because I think she has like six other books, and I have not done that but damn I really should. This series is excellent, and seriously I’d take a book about Matthew, Bloomsbury!

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

One response to “Book Talk: More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer”

  1. Leah says:

    I was so happy for this book because LTTL was one of my favorite books of 2017, and Rev stole my heart. More Than We Can Tell didn’t have quite the same emotional impact on me that the first one did, but it was a cathartic reading experience for me.

    I saw Brigid at a book signing and she said she wanted to write Matthew’s book, and I told her there are people who want to read it. I hope she does!
    Leah recently posted…{Can’t Wait Wednesday} A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh MafiMy Profile

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