Young Adult Review: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira


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)
Language: English

Genre: Contemporary

Series: None

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.  

My Thoughts:

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.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Reply
    Tressa S
    March 28, 2014 at 3:32 am

    This was a DNF for me because of the content and then, like you, I started losing interest half-way through, which was so disappointing. For me it was because of the choices she was making and being so easily swayed. Just not my kind of thing.

    • Reply
      March 28, 2014 at 1:22 pm

      There was a TON of content in this book. I definitely wouldn't recommend it for anyone that likes clean books (like me). It was a disappointment for me, and it sounds like it was for you too.

  • Reply
    Born Bookish
    March 30, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Sorry this one didn't work out for you! I had read a couple reviews about it being really dark and removed it from my TBR. So glad I did because seeing your list of content there just proves to me I wouldn't have liked it. The cover is awesome though!

    Amanda @ Born Bookish

    • Reply
      March 31, 2014 at 2:58 pm

      I do like the cover, but the book just wasn't for me. I got it from NetGalley before there were many reviews for it. If I had been able to read some other reviews for it first, I probably wouldn't have requested it. Oh well.

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