Saturday, July 19, 2014

Book Shelf: Love Letters to the Dead by 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 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.

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Review:

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira is an emotional and moving debut novel that explores the devastating effects of grief and the impact it can have on a young person who is just trying to determine who they are and where they fit in life.

In all honesty, I’m not sure if I can completely wrap my head around this book. I certainly enjoyed itit was an interesting read and kept me entranced, but at the same time now that its finished Im not exactly sure what to think. Ava Dellaira made me think and really feel at times with her unique and unusual story.

Love Letters to the Dead was actually a very awkward book to read. And I don’t necessary mean that in a bad way. Love Letters to the Dead is written as a series of letters written by our protagonist Laurel to late stars that shone bright and died too soon. What starts out as an assignment for a class at school soon becomes an ongoing obsession for Laurel as she writes to the famous names we all know and love like Kurt Coban, Jim Morrison, Amelia Earhart, Judy Garland, Janis Joplan, River Phoenix, and Heath Ledger amongst others.

Having just begun high school, Love Letters to the Dead depicts a time in Laurel’s life where she’s just trying to figure out who she is, as an individual and a person. She’s in a position I think we can all sympathize with and understand, as peer pressure, pain and uncertainty mingle. Laurel’s voice comes across as na├»ve, lost and alone, although I don’t necessary think she is innocent. Even prior to the loss of her older sister May, Laurel experienced harsh truths and betrayals at the hands of those around her and she’s really quite frayed at the seams.

Throughout the novel it becomes clear that Laurel harbors a lot of anger, guilt and betrayal where her sister is concerned. Laurel held May to such high esteems and the hero-worship attitude she had towards her was something that was shattered over time by the realization that May wasn’t as perfect as Laurel always believed her to be.

Laurel’s voice comes across very young and through her writing she almost seems younger than she is, although as she tells her story through the various letters it becomes abundantly clear that Laurel is moving fast towards a future she doesn’t have complete control of.

With those around her facing their own demons, Love Letters to the Dead is a mix of Saving June by Hannah Harrington and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Laurel’s friends Hannah and Natalie are conflicted and messy, and coming from a broken home means Laurel doesn’t have anyone to turn to with her dad doing the best he can and her mother half-way across the country.

As Laurel deals with her inner demons, falling in love for the first time and slowly making mistakes as she bends to peer pressure and expectations, she manages to put herself in some dangerous situations, something that was really hard at times to understand as the reader. I kind of just wanted Laurel to grow up and get over simple things, but the journey she is on won’t allow that until she faces some harsh truths.

Ava Dellaira explores the self-destruction that can be brought on by grief and anger as her heroine continues to struggle in Love Letters to the Dead. Deep, meaningful and infinitely painful Love Letters to the Dead is as well written as it is difficult to read, but so, so worth it.


Rating:
Source: Sent for review by Hot Key Books (Thank you Jennifer!)
Format: Paperback
Buy it: Bookworld | The Nile | The Book Depository | Amazon
My Recommendation: If you enjoyed Saving June by Hannah Harrington you'll be sure to enjoy this.
Cover: It's very ethereal
Will I read sequel/continue with series: This is a stand alone novel

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you decided to give this a try! It was so different from anything I'd read before I think that's why I loved it. Great review! Donna x

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