Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
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.
Author Ava Dellaira’s debut novel Love Letters to the Dead is a poignant and beautiful contemporary novel. While I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as I would have hoped and as much as the hype led me to believe, it was certainly a work of art in itself.
When Laurel’s English teacher assigns the class to write a letter to someone dead, Laurel fills her notebook with stories from her life – ranging from starting high school, meeting and making new friends, and falling in love for the first time. But can these letters overpower the grief she’s experiencing from her sister’s death?
Laurel is going through quite a tough time during the course of this story. Her faults, her fears, her passions – they all felt real. Her determination and innocence was something that I really enjoyed about her; and her optimism and kindness even when she was going through such a grim time makes it almost impossible for you not to like her.
I think if there’s one critique I had with Love Letters to the Dead it involves the pacing. I felt that the pacing was too slow, and that nothing especially noteworthy happened until approximately page 175. I caught myself skimming occasional paragraphs up until that point, and I feel it would have helped if there was a little less focus on the romance and the beautiful prose, and more on the storyline.
All in all, this is a beautiful story. It’s not about grief as you may expect – although that’s certainly part of it, but not the main focus – but rather about healing, about finding yourself and the true power of friendship and words. It’s about falling in love. It’s about delicate family relationships. And it’s about how bonds between siblings are some of the most powerful things we have.
What I told you about saving people isn’t true. You might think it is, because you might want someone else to save you, or you might want to save someone so badly. But no one else can save you, not really. Not from yourself.