Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira


Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Review by Lauren

Source: personal copy; all opinions are my own

Official 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 the dead. People like Janis Joplin, Judy Garland, Amelia Earhart, and Amy Winehouse—though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating the choppy waters of new friendships, learning to live with her splintering family, falling in love for the first time, and most importantly, trying to grieve for May. But how do you mourn someone when you haven’t forgiven them? And how do you find your true identity when so much of who you were died with the person you loved? It’s not until Laurel has written the truth about what happened to herself can she finally 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 truly begin to discover her own path.

Review: I had a feeling that I would love this book. For one thing, I love books written in the form of letters. For another, some of my favorite books are contemporary novels that focus on tough issues (such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, whose author wrote a blurb for this book). In the end, I was pretty much right. I did really love this book, even if aspects were a bit easy to guess as the novel went on. That may have been intentional though; it's almost as if the letters Laurel writes to the dead are slowly revealing who she was even before she's ready to admit it.



I think the letters were done well. They switch between a variety of people from Kurt Cobain to Amy Winehouse, but every particular letter usually has something that relates to the person she is writing about. Laurel probably addresses Kurt the most because he was a favorite of May's before she died. His music is a first connection between the sisters when May seems to have grown up too much for Laurel.

Love Letters to the Dead is heartbreaking in various respects. Laurel has been through a lot and you do wish for her to find her own personal happiness, instead of trying to mimic May, who had plenty of her own troubles slightly hidden from her sister.


I thought the secondary characters were great too. You have Tristan and Kristen who are high school sweethearts but know that once they graduate, a lot is going to change. Then you have Laurel's best friends Hannah and Natalie who are in love with each other but unable to truly be together. I thought it was great that the book focused on other aspects of Laurel's world, such as her friends and family, because it made it more true to life. Laurel might be stuck in the past, in a world where May was alive and flying, but that doesn't mean that life truly stops. People move around you, stuck in their own battles.

I would definitely read another book by this author. Her writing is beautiful and I thought the letters were really well done.

23 comments:

Ann Stampler said...

I'm with you in awaiting more books from Dellaira. This one pulled me in completely.

Zoe N. said...

I loved this one too Lauren! :D So beautifully written and touching; and I loved the characters in this! Glad you did too! Thanks for sharing, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3

~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

Ginny Gallagher said...

This sounds like a wonderful coming of age book. I really like the letter writing format for the story. I am adding this to my read soon list. Thanks so much for sharing. I'm excited to read this one.

Melliane said...

A friend asked if I wanted this one because she didn't like it and I confess I'm really curious after all the wonderful reviews I saw.

Kate Midnight Book Girl said...

I loved this book! I read the arc, so I couldn't share all the wonderful quotes, but I wrote a bunch down.

Erika Sorocco said...

I LOVE books written in letter-form too!

xx

Kindlemom said...

I have this one to read as well and I am so glad you enjoyed it. I really like this type of reads too.

Andrea Thompson said...

Oh, I've been wanting to read this too! I love books written in epistolary format, so that would definitely work for me. Great review!

Candace said...

I'm glad you loved this one! I enjoyed it pretty well but felt like it was a bit TOO dark, like there weren't many lighter moments to make it easier to connect with. But it's all personal taste. Still an excellent read!

Haley @ YA-Aholic said...

Ahh I'm so excited to read this!! It sounds like something I would like! So glad you enjoyed it, great review !! ((:

Keertana said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this one! I know I won't be able to appreciate it since I'm not a fan of issue books, but I think this is the perfect novel if it finds itself in the hands of the right reader.

Christy @ Love of Books said...

I contemplated reading this one - it sounds really good. I like when a book is wrote out in letters too.

Hilda K said...

I was halfway through this book but then I dropped it off thinking it resembles The Perks of Being a Wallflower a little too much. Some reviews convince me otherwise though, and your review makes me wish to give it another go, Lauren! :) I do like Tristan and Kristen - there are so much going on between them that they don't say.

Fabulous review! :)

Alise said...

I've heard so many great things about this book and I'm happy you enjoyed it! Loved the quotes too. And yay, good secondary characters!

Brandi Kosiner said...

I couldn't get into this one because of the letters, but sounds like I missed an emotional read

Liviania said...

Great review! I've heard nothing but good about this book.

Tracy Terry said...

Though slightly put off by the letter format I'm never the less fascinated by the concept of this book. Great review, thanks.

Sophia Lin said...

I thought this would be interesting too. I mean, letters! To the dead! I was hoping to see how well it would play, lol.

I haven't gotten around to it yet though... O_O

Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings said...

I still can't decide on this one, some people love it and others are not so impressed, I have thought about it numerous times, I should just try it, right?

Angela's Anxious Life said...

Honestly I am glad I read your review. I don't like "feelings" books and that sounds like this is what this is. I thought from the title and the cover it was going to be horror/spooky. So I will actually avoid the book.

DMS said...

This book sounds so good. The letter format is interesting and based on the people the letters are addressed to in the book- I am curious! Thanks for sharing. Great review!
~Jess

Aylee said...

Ooh yeah, I also had a feeling I would like this one too because it reminded me instantly of The Perks of Being a Wallflower on account that it is an epistolary novel and because it takes on tough issues. And I'm sooo happy to hear that it's as good as it sounds and you loved it, Lauren!!

Marlene Detierro said...

LOVE LETTERS is strong, meanginful. It may lead readers to these artists, these leaders. I loved this book

Marlene
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