{Review} MORE THAN WE CAN TELL by Brigid Kemmerer

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Thursday March 15 5:26pm
From: N1ghtmare
To: Azure M

You suck.
     And that's what I'm going to say when I find you and shove it in your mouth hole.

Gross. At least this guy didn't include a dick pic. My finger hovers over the Ban Player button.
I should do it. I know I should.

(Page 1-2, US ARC edition)

My father sent me a letter and I don't know what to do.
I can't write that. Even thinking it feels weak and immature. I have a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but I can't deal with three lines of chicken-scratch on a piece of paper that showed up in the mailbox.” 

Today we're diving into the gut wrenching, feels inducing world of MORE THAN WE CAN TELL by Brigid Kemmerer. Here is an author who so beautifully connects us to the simple and deeply rooted complexities and trials of growing up, of being human. If you haven't read the other novel set in this world LETTERS TO THE LOST you can find my review of it HERE. If you haven't read Letters yet don't worry, while characters from that book appear in the  newer novel you won't be lost, Rev and Emma's story stands as it's own universe.

Have you ever had a problem you felt like you couldn't share with those around you? You can feel the need to talk, to ask for support, bubbling under your skin, begging to be recognized. As a teen especially I can remember always feeling an instant need to downplay things I was going through. I was overreacting, people were going to tell me it was just growing pains, I was weak if I complained too much or too loud. For those of us who have aged into adults we're hard pressed to admit that we still do this to ourselves, downplay and excuse our emotions, feel the need to shoulder hard times with quiet solitude. Our main characters in MORE THAN WE CAN TELL, Emma and Rev, are both going through painful experiences they are ashamed or afraid to talk about with family and friends.

For Emma it's "just a game" except that it's not. Gaming has always been the way she escapes from the world, it's her talent, the passion that makes her feel closer to a father who is often too busy to truly see her, and it's the way she hides from a mother she feels sees her as less than. In fact Emma has CREATED her own game. She's basically a badass, but not many people know. So when she starts receiving lewd and persistent harassment from a problematic male player, she thinks she needs to just suck it up and take it. Her understanding is that this is just a thing that happens to females in the gaming world and there's nothing she can do, no point in talking about it. It seems, however, like the more her game falls apart the more her real life problems start to rip apart at the seams too and her panic makes her vulnerable in ways that have consequences.

Rev's trauma runs deep, and when he receives a sudden burst of communication from his abusive father he's understandably dragged right back down into a state of pain and confusion. There's a part of him that falters, feels stabbing cuts of loyalty towards a man that coded obedience into his dna. Even though Rev is deeply loved by his adoptive parents he feels like he can't tell them about it. There's an anger, a sense of "why does this person still have a hold on me when I know what happened was wrong?" In the back of Rev's mind he is confused as to why this is not simple for him, and so he lets what he's going through fester underneath his skin.

Emma and Rev meet by chance, these brief but immediately intensely emotional moments where their stories twine. Sometimes it's easier to spill your soul out to a stranger, which is exactly what they do, and they find some level of solace in supporting each other through their troubles. What I loved about this book was that confiding in each other wasn't an immediate and all ending solution to the problems the characters were going through. There was still more work to be done, questions to be asked and things to think about, missing pieces of a puzzle that didn't get filled until Emma and Rev stopped hiding their thoughts and feelings and actually reached out to other people in their lives. Their on page chemistry is so instantaneous and don't get me wrong I had so maaaaany emotions about their burgeoning relationship. But I really really love that when Kemmerer rights about love she writes about all extensions of love. Neither character can really start to make forward motion until they let in the love of family and friends as well as doing some work to reach a place of self love too.

Formatting is something I've fallen in love with in all of Kemmerer's stories. The alternating POV's transition smoothly, and I don't feel lost going in and out of Rev and Emma's heads. Also nice is the addition of text messages and other social media/gaming forms of communication. There's nothing that incites my emotions more than spending a paragraph in a characters hurricane emotional state and then watching them send a text to their best friend pretending everything is fine. Mostly because I've been there, and that dichotomy between what you're feeling and what you're willing to admit to another person is a brutal limbo to exist in.

If you really like a story that explores relationships and bonds, and the way humans can get twisted up into not utilizing the support systems around them, MORE THAN WE CAN TELL will rope you in and remind you of every similar experience you've ever had. Kemmerer writes the kind of characters you want to protect, the kind you can never forget, and her storytelling is beautifully and simplistically beautiful.

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG 13 ( There's a makeout scene that doesn't go too far but definitely has some steam to it. )
Language: PG 13 ( Light cursing such as B**ch, also rough language and sexually violent wording when Emma is receiving online harassment. )
Violence: PG 13 ( CEmma is verbally and physically harassed at different points in her storyline.There is a scene in which she is beaten. Rev gets in a several fistfights as well and there are a few signs where he remembers in moderately graphic detail the way his father physically abused him.)
Other:  --

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The cover for this is deceptively simple on first glance. The blue background is kind of subtly somber, it reminds me of being underwater which is exactly how we can feel when we're going through terrible things in secret. The title is seperated into text message like blurbs . . .one word at a time . . . kind of how we have to reveal our emotions to people in one little burst of feeling at a time, layer by layer. Until we get to the last word TELL which is encased in a heart. Because we've gotten to the heart of the matter. And now we're ready and able to TELL those around us what is happening and let them in.

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Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
Received: For Review

*While this book exists in the same universe as Letters to the Lost, it is a standalone title.* 

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.