I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I picked up Love Letters to the Dead. The premise sounded dark and gritty but I wasn’t sure I would enjoy a book written entirely of letters composed by the protagonist. The cover was gorgeous so I decided to give it a shot and boy am I glad that I did.
Love Letters to the Dead starts with an English assignment. Laurel is just starting at a new school after her sister May’s tragic and mysterious death the previous year. On her first day of class she is told to write a letter to a dead person. Laurel writes her letter to Kurt Cobain, May’s favorite musician. Instead of turning the assignment in, she continues writing letters to numerous different dead people including Heath Ledger, Amelia Earhart, Amy Winehouse, and many more. In these letters Laurel writes about starting high school, the new friendships she makes, her first love, and her family and how they are each dealing with May’s death. Laurel is the only person who truly knows what happened and she’s not telling anyone. She is trying to forgive May for something that happened just before she died while also coping with the belief that her sister’s death may have been her fault.
Dellaira’s novel was beautifully written. It wasn’t the most original story I’ve ever read, but I couldn’t put it down the entire time I read it. In fact, I stayed up late and finished it in just one day. The emotion in this novel is what really makes it such a great read. Every moment reminded me of what it was like to be a freshman in high school (which considering that that was over a decade ago is really a feat).
Laurel was a great protagonist. Even though I’d never experienced at lot that had happened to her, I still felt I could really relate to her. Her relationship with her Dad was probably my favorite in the book. Their family has been broken, first by the death of her sister, and then by the abandonment of her Mother. Laurel and her Dad are left trying to put the pieces back together while trying to grieve May’s death at the same time. The other characters and relationships in this book were also great. Sky was my favorite kind of romantic lead. The mysterious bad boy who’s actually thoughtful and kind (but still mysterious) once you get to know him. Hannah and Natalie were notable secondary characters and their story was a very interesting one as well. I loved the flashbacks of May and Laurel’s relationship and Laurel’s ultimate reconciliation with her guilt and anger toward her sister was both poignant and satisfying.
Overall I really enjoyed Love Letters to the Dead. Of all of the books I’ve read this year, Love Letters has probably been my favorite so far and I would definitely recommend it to others.
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira is now available.
• Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (April 1, 2014)
• Length: 327 pages, Hardcover
• Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance