Thursday, August 7, 2014

Book Review: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Love Letters to the Dead
By Ava Dellaira
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Source: Library
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. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to the dead—to people like Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, 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 important, trying to grieve for May. But how do you mourn for someone you haven't forgiven?

It's not until Laurel has written the truth about what happened to herself that she can finally 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 start to discover her own path.

In a voice that's as lyrical and as true as a favorite song, Ava Dellaira writes about one girl's journey through life's challenges with a haunting and often heartbreaking beauty.

Review: I was so beyond excited to read this book. Not only is the cover absolutely gorgeous, but I loved the idea of a high school English assignment deeply affecting the main character of the story. Sadly, though, I was definitely not in the mood to read such a serious book about a girl who acted a little too young for her actual age. 

When Laurel is assigned to write a letter to a dead person, she never expects it to turn into an outlet for all of the emotions she's been feeling ever since her older sister died. Starting with a letter to Kurt Cobain, Laurel talks about her older sister May and life now without her. Laurel isn't really sure how to fit into high school, so she turns to May to gain courage to try things the old Laurel never would. Laurel discovers a lot about herself through those letters, and uncovers much more about herself, her past, and who she really wants to be. 

Let me start off by saying, I was definitely not in the right mood to read this book. I was not expecting something a book heavy on the emotions and "finding yourself," so I brought it along to the beach to read. Yeah, this is definitely not a beach read. But I still trucked through it and wasn't as emotionally connected to Laurel as I wanted to be. I thought her relationship with Sky was kinda weird. I didn't really get their connection and it kind of came out of "OMG we looked at each other and there was an intense connection" and that didn't really gel with me. I didn't find myself enjoying Laurel's life or her journey towards discovering her own self that wasn't so immersed in her sister and her guilt over her sister's death. 

I still think that this book was pretty heavy and dealt with death in a way that was unique. I liked how Laurel was learning the ropes of high school and discovering true friends and new relationships. I think Laurel's friends were definitely interesting and I enjoyed the fact that Laurel wasn't the only one going through a lot of emotional stress and difficulty in understanding her own identity. In the end, though, there just wasn't enough of a connection with Laurel to really keep me immersed in the story. 

With a promising premise, Love Letters to the Dead sounded better in theory than in execution. While the emotions were real and Laurel had to deal with a lot of grief and uncertainty at such a vulnerable time for a person, I wish she was more likable and more mature. If you do decide to give this one a try, make sure you're ready for a book exploring your place in life and attempting to move on from loss and immense grief.


  1. I've been curious about this but I think I may give it a pass. It's too bad the execution wasn't better because the concept is so unique. Thanks for the review! You've saved me some time.

  2. Thanks for the warning. I didn't know this book was such a intense book and I was thinking about reading it soon. I am definitely not i the mood for an intense book right now and if I read it right now I know it would ruin the book for me.
    Great review :D

  3. I agree with the romance, I didn't like it, they had like two conversations that was about nothing and then all of a sudden they are bf/gf. They loved each other and knew nothing about each other. I didn't get why Sky stayed with her because she did some crazy things in front of him. I also found Laurel immature and didn't like the drinking.

  4. Read it. I loved it. When I was just about to read the last letter, I put it down and sighed, pretty hard, I guess, and my mom said, “What’s wrong?” I just said, “I don’t want to finish it.” It was true; I didn’t. Not because it wasn’t good, but because then it would be over.

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  5. I was a big fan of LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD. I thought the writing was beyond lovely–I was highlighting passages in my kindle all over the place–the characters were well-drawn and complex, and the emotions were at a fever pitch from beginning to end. Debuts don’t get much better than this, although I’d definitely say that it’s a book you probably have to be in the mood for. Sometimes the sadness and grief is something I can only handle at certain times. I’m very glad this was one of those times for me.

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