I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Published by Macmillan on 2014-04-01
Genres: Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Siblings, Social Issues, Young Adult
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It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more -- though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was -- lovely and amazing and deeply flawed -- can she begin to discover her own path.
Oh, friends, I am over the moon to chat with you all about Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira. It’s the sort of book that after finishing it, I found myself popping over to google chat to recommend it to one of my friends, only to discover they had already read it and experienced all Dellaira’s debut has to offer for themselves. You ever read something that makes you feel a thousand different things and makes you feel simultaneously full and empty at the same time? That was my feel during Love Letters To The Dead.
Dellaira’s Love Letters To The Dead is pretty much exactly the title. It’s a book that is comprised of a series of letters from Laurel, a freshman girl, to dead celebrities. This epistolary read follows Laurel as she works through her emotions surrounding the death of her older sister May. Laurel lives with her dad for one week and then for the next week she lives with her Aunt Amy, who is religious but not annoying about it. Along with working through her feelings, Laurel is in a new school where no one knew May. It’s hard for her at first because she doesn’t have friends. Eventually, she falls into a friendship with Natalie and Hannah, two girls who are exploring their sexuality. Hannah is totally in the closet, FYI. Furthermore, there’s also Tristan and Kristen, two seniors they are friends with who are important to the story. Oh and Sky, THE BOY. And that’s all I will give you for plot.
Laurel is the kind of character I think those of us who are bookish can relate to. The whole letters to celebrities thing starts with a school assignment. We see Laurel really connect with poetry and it’s awesome. Anyways. Okay that’s not even the most important thing about her personality or about Laurel as a person, not even by a long shot. Okay, so she’s got this like idealism of her sister May and kind of lives in her shadow, even though May is dead. May was one of those shining star types. Laurel is more of a thoughtful, introspective type. She’s a classic introvert and I just wanted to reach through the book and hug her. You guys, this character, Ava Dellaira really made her real. Like, an actual person. I really think she’ll gel with a lot of young readers. And of course, she totally reminded me of Charlie from The Perks Of Being A Wallflower what with her innocence and all. Actually, okay now that I wrote that, I realize I need to drive over to Allison’s house and drop Love Letters To The Dead off for her because she’s going to love it.
Lest you think this isn’t a book to swoon, there’s totally romance in a book that has love right there in the title. Listen, I will tell you that the romance is kind of overwrought and messy and awkward and you guys it is so teenage. But listen, this is a young adult book so the romance is perfect for the genre and what it is. See, there’s this guy at Laurel’s new school who immediately catches her eye. He is what FYA would call a mysterious loner dude. He doesn’t get into relationships, but he is with girls. His name is Sky. He’s got his own issues and problems, just like Laurel. Their romance is really complicated and like I said, messy. It totally works for the book though. It’s painful too. There’s some hard moments. But yeah, just know right now this romance is so teenage and really might take you back to those days.
Dellaira’s writing style is more literary than I expected. But it’s not muddy decorative literary where you need to translate all the symbolism. Instead, it’s the type where you want to dog ear pages, where profound things are said on a consistent basis. This book took me longer to get through than I expected. That’s okay. It’s one that made me ponder my relationship with my sisters. It made me think about life’s complications and family and relationships in general.
It also inspired me to pop over to spotify and listen to Nirvana and Amy Winehouse, so there’s that too. Basically this book is a good one. Pick it up.