More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer was a heartbreaking and distinctly visceral look into teenage realities and its issues. As with Kemmerer’s first novel, she again beautifully converged two characters’ separate but moving stories into one powerful and hard-hitting narrative. Told in dual perspectives, both Rev and Emma will have you fully engaged in their family dynamics, their own hurdles, and their journey to finding something special with one another.
Most adoringly was that Rev and Emma were free to respond and react to the battles in their lives as individuals, but when they came together in a showing of support and understanding–of what a peer should be–, it was wonderfully compelling. As outsiders and the less understood, Rev and Emma inhabited similarly opposite struggles of the young adult; his traumatizing childhood and her parents’ absenteeism and lack of support seemed to represent who these characters were, but embedded underneath their barriers was so much depth and complexity. It’s distressing to imagine what and how much teens internalize and take on as their responsibility alone, and it was showcased wonderfully through these two down-to-earth teenagers. The issues covered were handled sensitively and with grace–not with dramatics or utilizing them to further the story–but to shine a light on how to handle them whether the reader is a teenager or a parent of one. Having fallen in love with Rev in Letters to the Lost, it was a pleasure to see his journey. His personality was so vibrant and caring, and markedly just as resilient and strong, that it was impossible not to fall for him further. Equally, Emma’s journey hit on tough gender issues, and while she was rightfully stubborn in her standpoint, she was just as vulnerable. The paradoxical nature to each character fully rounded them out and made them so very real.
Though the romance took a backseat to the plot, it was as addictive as it would have been had it been up front and center. I loved its subtlety and understated power, how it was so provocative while remaining shadowy and alluring. More Than We Can Tell was exactly those things in a nutshell: subtle and understated, with poignant characters and a hard story to tell. But it did it all wonderfully, and I was so very sad to see it end.
This book gets 4.5 stars.
With loving adoptive parents by his side, Rev Fletcher has managed to keep the demons of his past at bay. . . until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.
Emma Blue’s parents are constantly fighting, and her only escape is the computer game she built from scratch. But when a cruel online troll’s harassment escalates, she not only loses confidence but starts to fear for her safety.
When Rev and Emma meet, they’re both longing to lift the burden of their secrets. They connect instantly and deeply, promising to help each other no matter what. But soon Rev and Emma’s secrets threaten to crush them, and they’ll need more than a promise to find their way out.