Cover of More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer

About the Book

Title: More Than We Can Tell (Letters to the Lost #2)
Published: 2019

Cover Story: Lazy Chat Bubbles
BFF Charm: Big Sister, Platinum
Talky Talk: More Than Fine
Bonus Factors: The Tami Taylor Award for Amazing Motherhood and Keith Mars Award For Awesome Dadhood
Anti-Bonus Factors: Dan Scott Award for Awful Parenting, Internet Trolls
Relationship Status: When Are You Free Next?

FYI this is a companion novel to Letters to the Lost. You in no way need to read the first book to understand this one, but it will give you a deeper appreciation of the characters.

Cover Story: Lazy Chat Bubbles

This isn’t offensive but it’s super boring. Texts have some play in the story, but they don’t feel consequential enough to warrant being a cover feature. The blue is nice? And I like the chat-bubble-turned-heart. But overall this feels lazy.

The Deal:

Rev Fletcher escaped his abusive con-man father when he was seven years old, and now, at eighteen, he’s put all that behind him. He’s got amazing adoptive parents, a great best friend, and, sure, he always wears long sleeved hoodies to hide the scars on his arms, but he’s got a quiet, unshakeable confidence in himself. Until. Until that three-sentence letter shows up in the mailbox, from what feels like the devil himself. It puts Rev in a freefall, and the only person he feels he can open up to is a complete stranger.

That stranger is Emma Blue, fellow student and online game developer, who feels like her own life is quietly falling apart. In real life her parents seem to only have enough attention to spare on each other, and it’s like World War 3 in her home. Online she’s getting unwanted attention in the form of an internet troll who sends her vile messages through OtherLANDS, her roleplaying creation. When she meets Rev lurking in the shadows behind a church (not as weird as it sounds), she finds a kindred spirit and someone who actually listens.

BFF Charm: Big Sister, Platinum

BFF Charm Big Sister with Clarissa from Clarissa Explains It All's face

Emma can be a little…prickly. You know that thing you hate about your mom or dad, then you look in the mirror and realize, OMFG, I do that too? That’s Emma and her mom’s talent for vicious one-line zingers. And I totally get it. Emma is sixteen, and she feels unsupported and adrift and jealous of stable families. Adolescence is hard enough, and living with two people who clearly can’t stand each other and don’t make any efforts to hide that in front of their teenage daughter…well, I understand why Emma lashes out. Sometimes you just go for broke, even when you know you’re being an asshole.

So what Emma really needs isn’t a BFF right now (because she’s already crapping on the great one she DOES have); she needs a big sister to fight for her and (gently) smack some sense into her.

BFF platinum charm

Ah, Rev, my pet. I can’t give Declan a Platinum charm without giving Rev the same, because they are so good to each other. I contemplated giving Rev the Love charm, but even though he’s a super awesome guy, we don’t really have any of the same interests. He’s perfect bestie material, though. This book doesn’t show Rev at his total best, since he’s grappling with some weighty issues, but there’s plenty of moments where you see his loyalty, his warmth, and, guys, he’s good with children. Sa-woon.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Kemmerer knows how to make me drool for even the tiniest of morsels. This isn’t a particularly “romantic” book; Emma and Rev don’t even spend THAT much time together, and their personal issues really overshadow their burgeoning romance. BUT. The little moments they do have together are so, so good. I had a silly grin on my face during certain scenes…all I will say is, I never found jiu-jitsu sexy until now.

Talky Talk: More Than Fine

So this has nothing to do with the actual story itself, but the ARC copy I received had an “Á” symbol in the place of any word that had “fi” or “fl” appeared together. Note: you will never realize how many words contain those combinations of letters until they simply…aren’t there. So perhaps this odd quirk made me extra sensitive to the fact that there were multiple, multiple instances of characters insisting they were Áne fine. You’re fine! I’m fine! We’re all completely fine! (Narrator: They were not fine.)

But that was my “biggest” gripe with this book, relatively speaking. For everything else, I was charmed. Kemmerer grappled with heavy topics with ease (PTSD, the worry that you’ll become the worst parts of your parents, anxiety, abandonment issues) and created realistic, likeable-yet-flawed characters. I even appreciated the moments that Kemmerer made me ugly-cry, because there was so much emotion packed into just a few sentences. It didn’t hit with quite as much punch as Letters to the Lost (that was a snot-fest of tissues and blubbering on my part) but it warmed my heart all the same.

Bonus Factor: The Tami Taylor Award for Amazing Motherhood and Keith Mars Award For Awesome Dadhood

Friday Night Light's Tami Taylor at a football game

For Rev’s mom.

Keith Mars hugging his daughter, Veronica Mars

For Rev’s dad.

(Because they deserve their own awards.)

Can Rev’s parents be my parents? Pretty please? These two may be too good to be true, but I hope there are people like them out there, because they’re exactly what foster children need: calm, understanding, patient, non-judgmental. They took Rev in after he was taken away from his father and adopted him a few years later, and typically foster babies and toddlers (AKA why Rev is so good with kids). At the start of this novel, however, they end up with a damaged fourteen-year-old, Matthew, and everyone has to adjust. Matthew’s story is also heartbreaking, and Kristin and Geoff handle it with aplomb.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Dan Scott Award for Awful Parenting

Evil Dan Scott from One Tree Hill

Rev’s father was one of those snake-oil, con-men faux-pastors who stole from his congregation and charmed his way out of any allegations of abuse for the first seven years of Rev’s life. There’s a special level of hell for people like him.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Internet Trolls

Red shift key on a computer keyboard with outline of a troll

Emma is being harassed by a player in her OtherLANDS game and she puts up with it because “it’s just what female gamers have to deal with.” Oh, Emma, honey, NO. She’s the Admin for her game, but because she made it kind of open, there’s precious little she can do to prevent the banned player from simply creating a new account and continuing to send her lewd messages. Her story isn’t anything new to women on the internet, and that is sad.

Relationship Status: When Are You Free Next?

Let’s sync our calendars, Book. Your friend talked you up, and after only one date I’m ready to commit to seeing this thing move forward. How’s next Thursday sound?

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Bloomsbury Children’s. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. More Than We Can Tell is available now.

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.