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 Love Letters to the Dead by Ava DellairaAuthor: Ava Dellaira
Published: April 1st 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Categories: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
External Links: Book DepositoryGoodreads

Summary: 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.

Review: I used to own a dairy when I was kid (but really who hasn’t?) and had kept it up until I was in high school. I’m not really vocal of my feelings, I’d rather write them in paper. There’s something about writing to the unknown that makes it comfortable to spill your guts out (without judgment, much freer). I know that’s a bit different with what the MC in this book was doing but I think the concept is similar. You know, writing to dead people. Writing to someone which you know would not talk back but you feel he will listen to what you’re going to say. Whatever that is.

For their first assignment in Laurel’s English Class, her teacher asked them to write a letter to a dead person. And the person she chose was Kurt Cobain. She chose him because he was May’s, her sister favorite musician. She told him how hard it was to be herself now that her sister is gone. She told him so many things about what has happened to her. And when the time she needed to pass the letter, she folded the letter and decided to keep it. And now, she wasn’t just writing to him, she also decided to write to other famous dead personalities. And little by little, with the help of the letters, we found out on how she was dealing with the loss of her sister and how it changed her.

I’m not really comfortable with this kind of style. I once read a prose type of book and it swirled me into confusion. I also tried reading a book that was written in an email-esque type and it bothered me so much that I didn’t get to finish it. I didn’t like how disconnected the story was for me. So I thought the same will happen with me with Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira. But the letters she wrote were actually descriptive and abundant of information I needed to know about Laurel and what she felt with her sister’s death. And there were also parts outside of the letters she wrote, so that’s a good thing, too.

And so, this is what drove me to flip page after page. I needed to know the why’s, the what’s, as well as the how’s. The people she chose to write to were people she also associated with her sister. And this intrigued me the most. What really happened to her? Those questions will linger on you until you got the answers you need.

I think like other books that deals with loss and grieving, Laurel’s story is about finding the answers, dealing with it and finally moving on (but not forgetting). I think the last one, her love letter to her sister was a nice touch. Like the string she needed to tie the pieces together. Yeah, that’s how it was for me. Although I was hoping that I have more emotional connection with her, in the end I still get her. I did get her.

Format: Advance Reader’s Copy
Preview Quote:  “I want to be cleansed— I want to burn away all of the bad memories and everything bad inside of me. And maybe that’s what being in love does. So that a life, a person, a moment you need to keep, stays with you into infinity.” Laurel (from Uncorrected Galley Proof)

2014 / 03 / 31

4 Responses to Review: Love Letters to the Dead

  1. AnahSpiers says:

    I never wrote a diary as a kid. I don’t know why, maybe it was because my life wasn’t interesting enough. xD

    Nice review! I got a sample of it and wasn’t really impressed with the letter format, but I might give it a try just because I like reading unconventional novels.

    • Mitchii G. says:

      It was a class homework and something that I kept it even after it. The letters are very important to understand the MC. I admitted that it wasn’t my usual cup of tea but I still liked it. It was really an emotionally driven book. Thanks Anah. :D

  2. Pretty Little Reader says:

    I always wanted to write a diary as a kid, but I never could. I just never had anything to say, that I didn’t worry about someone else finding and using against me! Haha

    I really like epistolary style writing, and I like that Laurel’s journey is spread out across the whole book. It sucks that you didn’t connect with her as much as you might have wanted to, but it’s nice to hear that the story drew you in anyways!

    • Mitchii G. says:

      I have very specific handwriting when it comes to my diary. It was difficult to read, even when my sister found out and tried to read it, she couldn’t understand. It’s not really that deep, deep secrets but more on venting. When I was kid, I was full of angst, haha!

      I didn’t like the style but I liked the story. I would’ve loved it even more if it was written normally. But overall, it was good book. :D

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