Kemmerer’s dual-narrative romance ponders the path of fate versus blazing one’s own trail.
Juliet’s photographer mother died several months ago, and every week since, she’s been writing letters to her mother and leaving them at her graveside. Declan, the local bad boy, is sentenced to community service as a cemetery caretaker for drunkenly crashing his incarcerated father’s truck. When Declan replies anonymously to one of Juliet’s letters, Juliet writes back, and the two begin an exchange about fate and free will. The two inevitably meet in person, not knowing they have been revealing their deepest secrets to each other via pen and paper. During their in-person interactions, Juliet is attracted to this potentially violent outcast and “intense” but vulnerable soul, and he’s extremely rude to her, a behavior that moderates as pages turn but is not fully corrected. Sadly, Juliet lets him make her feel shame and guilt for the things she says. In his letters and, eventually, emails to her, he invalidates her feelings, causing her to second-guess herself, all of this unfurling in chapters that alternate narration. Despite the tragedies in their lives, neither teen is sympathetic; they possess too much self-pity and anger and act accordingly, and as a result they are unlikable. Both principals are white; Declan’s community-service supervisor is Latino, and his white best friend’s adoptive parents are black, and one main secondary character is Asian.
Lacks any real substance. (Fiction. 13-17)