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 Farrar, Straus, and Giroux for Young Readers on April 1st, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, 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.
I asked for this book from the FSG catalogue because of its unusual writing style. The entire book is written by a young girl to dead icons. When the ARC came and I saw so many blurbs from so many authors I love I was doubly excited to read it. Then the hype monster took over. Even Emma Watson was crowing about the book on Twitter. I generally go against the grain when it comes to what I like. I was worried that Love Letters to the Dead would disappoint because of my odd tastes.
I couldn’t get away from hearing about it so I picked it up off the shelf. And it was amazing.
Ava Dellaira is a welcomed new voice to literary young adult contemporary. Her writing is lyrical and haunting and at points I found myself reading the same letter over and over trying to grasp how she came up with a string of words that could jerk my heartstrings so wonderfully.
Laurel writes to Kurt Cobain, Amelia Earhart, River Phoenix, Jim Morrison and more. Each letter takes the reader closer to the secret of how her sister May died.
We follow Laurel as she deals with the aftermath of her sister’s death. She switches to a new school. Her mother checks out and moves to California. She splits her weeks between her father’s house where everything is quiet and depressing and her aunt’s house where Jesus reigns supreme and Laurel feels suffocated.
We see Laurel spiraling into a dark depression. We see her drink alcohol. She looses the boy she loves because he can’t handle her wild abandon after a night of drinking. You don’t feel a ton of hope and the book is super dark.
You keep turning the pages because in these letters you learn all about a boy named Sky, a group of ragtag friends dealing with their own important issues, and Laurel’s family. At least what’s left of it.
If you like weird, sad, heart-snapping tear-inducing reads Love Letters to the Dead is for you.