on January 1st 1970
From the author of Letters to the Lost comes a heart-wrenching story of two teens with big secrets and a love that could set them free.
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.
I have been in a bit of a reading slump lately but this book finally got me out of it. So suffice to say I really enjoyed this book. It’s very character driven and fast paced. I definitely recommend it if you’re after a contemporary novel with some romance and interesting protagonists.
More Than We Can Tell is a contemporary novel with dual narrators. Usually with dual narrative books I tend to heavily favour one narrator over another which makes me want skip half the chapters so I can get back to my favourite voice. This was not the case with this novel.
Both narrators have weighty personal lives which are exasperated by negative communications online which eat into their offline life. I liked how different the two situations were (with one piece of abuse being anonymous and the other being a known person: and how they both explore how intrusive and real online abuse is, which is an important topic.
Our first narrator is Emma. Emma is a high school student who takes solace in an online world she has created herself. I love that Emma had built her own game 💕. However, her safe space is threatened by an abusive player who seems determined to harass her no matter how many times she bans him from her game. I have, very luckily, never been trolled online or harassed. But I’ve read a lot of stories about it and I can only imagine the pressure, helplessness and just the gross feelings that would come with this kind of harassment. It’s especially invasive considering it’s happening in a space Emma made. It’s good to see this explored in a YA novel.
Emma also had to deal with her family falling part around her. Her Dad’s devotion to game industry work over family and her Mum’s disapproval of her gaming lifestyle create an environment where Emma does not feel she can share her stresses and problems with them. This and the trolling were the main narrative threads that ramped up for Emma over the course of the story and worsened all the complications. Which leads me to mention that Emma’s main form of release from these stresses, besides gaming and coding, is walking her dog. I am ALWAYS looking for books featuring women with female dogs! I loved that part of the novel.
Needless to say, I enjoyed Emma’s pov. She has forces pushing against her from all sides and often it makes her want to angrily push back, but I never found her snipes and negative dealings with people frustrating because it made sense to me.
Rev is our second narrator. I loved Rev and his story arc. He’s is currently living with his absolutely lovely and kind adopted parents, but he has severe physical, emotional and mental scars from the emotional and physical abuse he received from his biological father before he was taken into care. His online abuse takes the form of ever increasingly dark emails from his biological father. These emails always pop up in the story at the worst times and they gave me a chill. His father’s words are so innately manipulative, especially given the context of everything he has done to Rev.
I believe Rev is also a character in this author’s previous novel, which his friend Declan is a protagonist in. Now, I haven’t read Letters to the Lost but whilst there are clear allusions to that story (which takes place before this one) I feel like having read only the blurb to Letters to the Lost, I wasn’t lost with this story. More Than We Can Tell definitely works as a standalone but I imagine it’s quite enjoyable to read them as companions. I probably will read Letters to the Lost at some point to see Declan’s story.
Speaking of Declan, I loved how many good relationships Rev has in his life at this moment in time. Declan is an amazingly supportive friend and Rev’s mum and dad are so loving. His main difficult relationship, besides what’s going on with his father, is with his foster brother. However, as two abused children they find a way to connect with and understand each other. I really loved watching that connection blossom over the course of the novel.
Both sides of the story come together wonderfully and are strung together by a chance meeting between Emma and Rev beside a church. The two sides compliment each other really well.
This story spends a lot of time building and exploring the characters and definitely made me fall in love with them, but the ending really ramped up the action dramatically. I have to say, it was like a rollercoaster at the end.