Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira

Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux on April 1st 2014
ARC from Publisher
336 pages
Purchase on AmazonFully Booked


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.

There are books that make you see the beauty and power of words and at the same time make you at a loss for them. Love Letters To The Dead was just that. It left me tongue tied, heavy-hearted yet amazed and inspired.

Every time we speak, there is a voice. There is that world that answers back.

Saying I loved this book doesn’t feel enough. Laurel’s letters, while addressed to renowned dead people, like Kurt Cobain, Judy Garland, Elizabeth Bishop, Amelia Earheart, River Phoenix and Janis Joplin, spoke to me in more ways than I could count with my fingers. Laurel, the main character, deals with missing her sister, the person she loved and looked up to the most. I related not only to her grief, which was overwhelmingly heart-breaking, but also to her endeavors as a young girl finding love and belongingness.

I still don’t know how to make sense of the world. But maybe it’s okay that it’s bigger than we can hold on to. Because I think that by beauty, you just don’t mean something that’s pretty. You mean something that makes as human.

I don’t like comparing books often but I feel the need to mention how Love Letters was very similar to Chbosky’s Perks Of Being A Wallflower, one of my most favorite books. Aside from both stories being told in letters, Love Letters’ undertone was quite like Perks’- obscure and contemplative. While Laurel and Charlie’s voice have some resemblance, I feel that Love Letters To The Dead still holds up on its own. Ava Dellaira’s prose is distinctive, her story as striking and unforgettable as Chbosky’s.

I think a lot of people want to be someone, but we are scared that if we try, we won’t be as good as everyone imagines we could be.

Even with Ava’s smooth writing, Love Letters To The Dead was difficult to read and I only mean that in the best light possible. While I’m often drawn to upbeat contemporaries, there’s something about reading dark and brave stories such as this one that fills me completely. I felt close to Laurel, and also to her friends, family and her love interest, Sky. Each of the characters had demons of their own to take down and I loved how their character growth intertwined with the protagonist’s.

Maybe that’s what being in love is. You just keep filling up, never getting fuller, only brighter.

Aside from this, I also loved the way the story emphasized the music and poetry of the people Laurel was writing to. I appreciate how they were weaved into the book and I believe they made the story even lovelier. Love Letters To The Dead digs deep into the lives of these dead people whom Laurel’s letters are addressed to and provokes readers to think about truly living.

You think you know someone, but that person always changes, and you keep changing, too. I understood it suddenly, how that’s what being alive means. Our own invisible plates shifting inside of our bodies, beginning to align into the people we are going to become.

Stories such as these are delicate but also poignant and emotional. Love Letters To The Dead was an excellent debut and I wholeheartedly recommend it to readers who are looking for a novel to stir their heart and soul.



20 Responses

  1. You’ve fully convinced me that I need to read this book. The darker contemporaries are my absolute favorites, mainly because they have the power to stir my heart. They make me really think about the subjects they’re on. They usually make me cry too. Lovely review, Hazel. I love those quotes you used. :) This seems like a book I would absolutely love.

  2. i think i would be very interested with this. i am making a list of ya contemporary books to read this summer coz i have been reading a lot of dystopian and sci-fi ones lately and i need a bit of break from that.thanks for this review :) i am now putting this to my tbr.

  3. OMG That synopsis totally got my attention!! :) I am so glad that you loved this book & a book that made readers tongue tied because of its beauty is always a must read! yay! so excited to read this one! :> Great review!

  4. Ooh, I’ve been eyeing this one for quite a while now@ Glad to see that it does not disappoint! And I love Perks too, so it’s really lovely to hear that those two are really similar yet both strong!
    Will definitely pick this one up! Thanks for sharing! :D

    Neysa @ Papier Revue

  5. Your theme is currently acting up, with the font at the sidebar being way too big at the moment. I don’t know why.

    And I’m scared of the hype for this one, and it doesn’t help that you compare it to Perks. I found it very shallow with such a focus on drugs and sex, and I still don’t understand it later. If this one is as hard to understand as Perks, I’ll pass.

  6. Wow. Now I want this more than for just the cover. I like how you compared it to Perks of Being a Wallflower because I love that book so much. I like books that give hope or show you more about life

  7. When you mentioned perks of being a wallflower I totally cringed. :)) I hated the movie and some people said the book is better, but I’d rather pass. I’m not sure I’d enjoy this one because I’m not into emotional novels. But I have to get my own copy because-Look at that damn cover design! LOL Great review, Hazel!

  8. Yes! I have to agree with your review – Love Letters to the Dead was an excellent read, even though some of the things that happen in it are very difficult to read about. I really liked learning Laurel’s story through her letters!

  9. I’m so glad that you loved this so much! It’s so great when a book just really moves you. It’s such an amazing feeling! I actually had some trouble connecting at times, but still enjoyed the book!
    Lovely review. Your thoughts are just beautiful!

  10. Sounds like a lovely book! And the way you described it was perfect: “There are books that make you see the beauty and power of words and at the same time make you at a loss for them.” I really, reeeally want to read this now.

  11. Great review!
    It is already on my TBR list and I’m desperately waiting to get a chance to grab this book.
    I really want to read this now.

  12. I haven’t had much interest in this book before reading your review. I guess I didn’t really know what it was about, because now I’m dying to read it. It definitely sounds like I’ll be getting this one as soon as it’s out!

  13. Eep. Okay, your review sold me on getting on reading this book asap. It’s been on TBR for awhile now and I just haven’t gotten to reading it yet. But your review totally makes me know I was right to want to read it. Definitely the kind of book I will want to buy and reread to from the sound of it. Must get my hands on a copy and read it!

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