Title: Love Letters to the Dead
Author: Ava Dellaira
Published: May 1st 2014
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Length: 327 pages
I bought this book from the Book Depository.
Book Blurb (via Goodreads):
It begins as an assignment for English class: write a letter to a dead person – any dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain – he died young, and so did Laurel’s sister May – so maybe he’ll understand a bit of what Laurel is going through. Soon Laurel is writing letters to lots of dead people – Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, River Phoenix, Amelia Earhart… it’s like she can’t stop. And she’d certainly never dream of handing them in to her teacher. She writes about what it’s like going to a new high school, meeting new friends, falling in love for the first time – and how her family has shattered since May died.
But much as Laurel might find writing the letters cathartic, she can’t keep real life out forever. The ghosts of her past won’t be contained between the lines of a page, and she will have to come to terms with growing up, the agony of losing a beloved sister, and the realisation that only you can shape your destiny. A lyrical, haunting and stunning debut from the protégé of Stephen Chbosky (THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER).
Love Letters to the Dead was a bit of a surprise for me. I had a vague inkling of what the book was about – not really having read the blurb beforehand – but the events revealed within Laurel’s letters was something I wasn’t actually prepared for and it did shock me a bit.
Laurel’s writing letters to dead celebrities as part of an assignment for English, but she doesn’t feel ready to share those letters with anyone, never mind her teacher. She chooses people that she can relate things to through the letter – a singer whose song had played that day, or someone she admires for their bravery.
I loved how real this book felt. The relationships between Laurel and her new friends was strained and full of secrets, blossoming occasionally before being pulled away because of something being revealed (or not). My heart went out to her when things went south with Sky because she couldn’t open up to him. The fact that her mother had run off to California seemed a bit selfish and cruel, but understandable in a way, given the circumstances.
There’s definitely some shocking revelations throughout the book, not only about Laurel but about some of her friends too. It’s gripping and the diary-like entries make for a different reading experience than the norm.
I highly recommend this to fans of YA.
About the Author
Ava Dellaira is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. She grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago. She believes Love Letters to the Dead began when she bought her second album ever—Nirvana’s In Utero—which she listened to on repeat while filling the pages of her journal. She currently lives in Santa Monica, California, where she works in the film industry and is writing her second novel.
Find out more about Ava through her Twitter.