Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Age Range: 12 – 17 years
Grade Level: 7 and up
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (April 1, 2014)
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars
About the Book:
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.
Find the Book:
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. Love Letters to the Dead is her debut novel. She currently lives in Santa Monica, where she is at work on her second book.
I was super excited to read this book. The cover is gorgeous and the
blurb sounds really interesting. At first, it was everything I had been
hoping for. Laurel is writing letters to dead celebrities as she tries
to figure out her life. She is trying to cope with the fact that her mom
ran away and her sister died. She’s at a new school and makes some new
friends. The writing is gorgeous and full of emotion. I love the way Laurel
describes things, like the way she feels connected to the music of dead
singers, or the performances of dead actors.
About half way through, I started to lose interest. The
beginning was so awesome, but then the same things kept getting rehashed
over and over. The writing
was still beautiful, and I really enjoyed Laurel’s relationship with the
dead people she keeps writing to. But the story had somehow lost it’s
spark for me. I didn’t feel like I connected with the characters all
that much. They were all pretty quirky, which isn’t a bad thing, but it
just wasn’t MY thing.
I’m not a teenager, so maybe that had something to do with it, but I
can’t be certain that I would have connected with the book even if I
were a teenager. I’m chalking this one up to personal taste, because it
really is a beautifully written book.
Content: This one has a LOT of content. Underage drinking, sex between
underage teens and older guys, drugs, smoking, passionate make out
sessions with and without clothes, and quite a bit of language. Far too
many F-words for my tastes.
The Cover: I adore this cover! It is so gorgeous and it portrays the
feel of this book really well. The cover was definitely a huge plus for me.