Love Letters to the Dead – 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. 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.
Review: I got frustrated with this book. I know that a lot of people love it, but I had a hard time getting through it.
In English class, Laurel is assigned to write a letter to a dead celebrity. She uses the assignment as a way to cope with the death of her sister, her parents’ divorce, the drama of high school, and her own past.
I think my issues with this book come from the fact that I read a ton of contemporary YA. I read more of that genre than any other. I feel like I’ve read this book before. Many, many, many times. For me, the ending was so predictable that I had a hard time sitting through all of the angst to get to the big reveal. It’s a slow book, and there is a lot of angst. I know that there are real-life teenagers who are going through similar problems to what Laurel experiences in the book, so this is an important story, but I don’t think it’s a very interesting story. It’s just been done too many times.
I also think that Laurel’s character is inconsistent. She’s very childish for a 13-15 year-old, but sometimes she suddenly gets philosophical and sounds like a 40 year-old poetry professor. Laurel’s love interest, Sky, also bothers me. I’ve seen this character too many times in YA fiction. He’s a sexy, mysterious, loner with a troubled past who shows up to save Laurel whenever she needs saving. I wanted to like him, but he doesn’t have much depth.
I’m probably making this book sound terrible. It’s not. I like the secondary characters. Hannah and Natalie are my favorites, and I found their relationship believable. I also think that some elements of Laurel and Sky’s relationship are very realistic. They both have communication issues, and Laurel sometimes expects Sky to be a mind-reader, which causes tension in their relationship. I like that Laurel learns how to communicate over the course of the story. She learns not to be afraid of her own voice, and that’s a very good message for the reader to take away from the book.
This novel reminds me a lot of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I think that Perks is more successful at doing everything that this book is trying to do. This one just didn’t work for me.