Love Letters to the Dead {Book review}

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Published Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Author: Ava Dellaira
Pages: 323
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

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. – Summary from Goodreads

When I first heard about Love Letters to the Dead I couldn’t wait to get it. I mean, that cover alone made me have grabby hands! Plus, it sounded like the coolest premise ever! A girl writes love letters to the dead…or at least that’s what I surmised from the title {I didn’t actually read the Goodreads summary or the book flap}. I didn’t realize that the letters are an assignment from Laurel’s teacher. I also didn’t realize that Laurel {our MC} would use these letters as her coping mechanism, as her way of dealing with the world that has seemingly crumbled around her.

I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars based on a few things. The first being that high school suuuuucks. I did it 15 years ago and I never wish to go back, so reading about it always makes me roll my eyes {like a high schooler}. Second being the writing… it’s really simple. Maybe a little too simple for my taste. But I realize that might also have to do with Laurel, she’s innocent and pure and good. Finally, there wasn’t much of a build-up for the climax, which wasn’t that spectacular. I felt like the story itself was lacking something.

Other than those few minor nit-pickings, the book handles some pretty heavy issues such as molestation, divorce, death, sexuality and the all-around shittiness that is highschool. I loved the letter aspect of this novel and how Dellaira tied it all together. It was very original and mucho enjoyable. {PS. The last letter…I CRIED PUDDLES!!!b}

So, if you’re interested in a book that has an original format, involves the ups and downs of highschool, touches on a little bit of everything and makes you want to bust out your old Nirvana CDs, then this is the book for you!

*On a side note: I love the show Castle. It’s hilarious. Anyway, I just found and purchased Heat Wave, the first installment in the Nikki Heat series written by the show’s fictional author, Richard Castle {played by Nathan Fillion}. I realize I may be the last Castle fan to discover this but for me, it made me do my happy dance *happy dances*. Just wanted to share with you fellow Castle fans. Have a nice Monday!

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4 thoughts on “Love Letters to the Dead {Book review}

  1. haha I actually bought and read Heat wave not long ago, being a massive Castle fan myself! I didn’t really like the book unfortunatley- but that may be because I don’t read a lot of crime fiction, maybe you’ll like it better.

    I’m so on the fence about reading this story- love letters to the dead. On the one hand, it looks like an interesting way of story telling and quite an original premise. On the other hand: ugh high school. I mean I avoid a lot of books set in high school because a lot of that culture goes over my head and feels far too dramatic. Secondary school was alright for me, but I think a big part of that comes from the UK schools not having such an emphasis on cliques and “she’s a bitch/he’s a jock” blah blah. The only time I tend to read american high school novels, tends to be when nothing actually happens *in* the high school and they are just around that age!

    • That is so funny. I haven’t read much crime fiction really but I’m going to approach it as a Castle fan and hopefully that will help me enjoy it more 🙂
      Love Letters is definitely an interesting and original premise but yes, the whole high school aspect is annoying. There’s some “she’s a bitch/he’s a jock” but it’s not too terrible. The focus is mainly on the characters and how they each are trying to quell their own personal demons. It’s sort of heavy in that regards. I read it rather quickly so I think if you gave it a go, then it wouldn’t take up too much time.

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