‘Love Letters to the Dead‘ by Ava Dellaira was published in early 2014. It’s a modern, high school, YA story, written entirely in letters to dead famous people. There are some graphic scenes and intense themes, so I wouldn’t recommend this book to children under 15. [you can buy a copy here!]
The novel follows Laurel after she is given an assignment in her English class: Write a letter to a dead person. She starts with Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. We then follow Laurel on a haunting journey of heartbreak and loss, but also growth and self-discovery.
This book legit shattered my heart. I was a sobbing mess for at least a third of it. It was seriously emotional, confrontational, and just straight up painful at times. But it’s Laurel’s journey to figuring out who she is now that she doesn’t have her older sister. It’s Laurel coming to terms with what happened to May, and what happened to her before May’s death. I honestly wish I could give Laurel a big hug.
The format is entirely in letters. Laurel writes to dead people as a way of coping, and as a means of working out her ‘issues’. She writes to Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Amelia Earhart, and Amy Winehouse, to name a few. I really loved this. And I loved how Dellaria added in little details about each of the people, and made it really seem like Laurel was aiming her letter at the real person. She wasn’t just picking a random person and word-vomiting all of her feelings.
No, Laurel connected with each of the people she decided to write to in a different way, and I think that really added another layer of depth to the story. Each and every letter felt as though it had a place, and really helped to progress the story. Her writing too was very distinctive, and often lyrical at times. The format of letter writing also allowed her to have deep and personal reflections without them seeming out of place.
It’s really hard to say I liked this story, because, really, it’s not a particularly ‘nice’ story. A lot of horrible things happen to Laurel, her sister, and her friends. But that’s also the point of the story. These characters suffer hardships, but we can watch them grow and learn and become better people.
There were some really graphic and intense scenes which made me feel sick. But I also know that there are people out there who have lived through similar things. And I’m always supportive of stories which allow people to relate to something, and which maybe will even help them in their own lives.
All in all, I think this is just the sort of book you have to experience to understand. I’m really glad I got around to reading it.
I didn’t really relate to any of the characters, but I’m going with Laurel. Because she’s really just a very interesting character.
When Laurel finally opens up to Hannah about her sister. It was a really sweet, and yet bittersweet, moment.
“Maybe that’s what being in love is. You just keep filling up, never getting fuller, only brighter.”
Would you look at that, two book reviews in two days! Please let me know what you think of my review, and the book if you’ve read it, in the comments.