Sunday, April 13, 2014

Book Review: Love Letters To The Dead

Love Letters to the DeadAuthor: Ava Dellaira
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BYR)

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.

Mrs. Buster gave us our first assignment in English today, to write a letter to a dead person. As if the letter could reach you in Heaven, or at the post office for ghosts.

His eyes were like your voice – keys to a place in me that could burst open.

The noise in the hallway changed into the loudest river I’ve ever heard. I thought maybe I could close my eyes and all of the voices would carry me away.

Maybe if I can learn to be more like her, I will know how to be better at living without her.
There are always a few books every year that when I sit down to write the review, I know I am not going to be able to do them justice. This book fits into this category. After I finished reading this book, I flipped to the front cover and just started at it for about ten minutes, so sad that my time with Laurel was over. This book is told in letters – letters that Laurel writes to famous people like Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, E.E. Cummings, Judy Garland, and many more. This book deals with Laurel’s grief over losing her sister, May, and always deals with the pains and complications of growing up. This was a remarkable story that you will fly through. The letters are all so touching, and Laurel is beautifully developed through each and every one of them.

This book is so well-written. I have read many stories that are told only through letters, and this is actually one of my preferred formats. I feel like I got through this book faster than normal. The letters just flow so smoothly and it is amazing how much we find out about Laurel, her sister, her parents, Sky, and even more. Laurel’s voice is very poetic and even sounds dreamy at times. She has such a way with words and her passion for writing these letters is very evident. So many beautiful quotes fill these pages; I constantly found myself pausing and just taking in everything that Laurel was writing.

Many different, complex issues are discussed in this book. Self-acceptance, family issues, growing up and fitting in, dealing with grief, etc. Dellaira discusses these topics through all the characters, as she develops them through Laurel. I hope that makes sense! Laurel is emotionally broken and is just trying to talk herself through all that has happened in her life lately. I cannot get over how completely amazing this book was, and I highly recommend it to anyone who needs an escape or even to anyone who has ever had to struggle with familial issues, grief, or learning to love yourself.

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in exchange for my honest review***


  1. I think your review is perfect for Love Letters to the Dead, Chelsey! I agree with all of your points, I loved this book, too, and wish I could spend more time with Laurel. I just might have to write her a letter ;)

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

  2. I'm so happy you loved it! Since I'm going to be an English teacher (finishing up my junior year right now!), I was so drawn to this idea. I love how the main character deals with a lot of issues in such a creative way. I seriously can't wait to read this one! Great review :)

    -Jessica (Peace Love Books)

  3. I love this cover! Adding to my TBR pile now. Thanks for the review :-)