Book Review: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Love Letters to the Dead
Author: Ava Dellaira
Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Released: April 1st 2014
Review Source: PFarrar, Straus and Giroux | Netgalley

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.

Guilty as charged. I was one of those that loved the title of this book. Yes, I can be emo sometimes. I loved the cover as well. I loved how it has this girl sitting there in the sky by the title letters. After seeing this book featured in many of the weekly meme, “Waiting on Wednesday” I had to add it. So when I saw this available on NetGalley, I had to get it. And although I was not expecting all these actual letters, I really enjoyed the story.

While reading Love Letters to the Dead, I felt like I was hunted by a ghost. I guess because this is how Laurel feels, as her older sister dies. Mia was her world. She believed in her, looked up to her and when she was gone, she felt as her world shattered into pieces. To avoid people asking her what happened the night her sister dies, she decides to attend a school at her aunt’s district. During the first day of her English class, she is given an assignment, to write a letter to a dead person. Written in letters, this is how we get to learn her story.

When I first started to read all these letters, I had to go back and forth to realize these letters were not addressed to the same person. I have to be honest; I had to google some of these people. For the most parts, these letters were addressed to writers, singers, and actor/actresses. As her story unraveled, you become annoyed at times, due to much drama in letters. High school drama that is. But then you feel sorry for her. Because deep down you may have some of these issues while attending high school. And then you feel even sorrier when you come to learn that truth about Laurel - this broken and innocent child.

Having said this, Love Letters to the Dead is a wonderful and touching story. After finishing this story, all one can think of being grateful for life. Losing a love one is not easy and coping with life is even harder. But one can only be grateful and live the life that is given. We must learn to embrace it and enjoy it –the good and the bad. I think anyone that enjoyed The Perks of Being a Wallflower would love this story.


  1. I am so looking forward to reading this one. The whole thing and concept attracted me right away, it's my type of book. Though, getting to know a person through letters will be a challenge, but it's totally a unique and different way, so I can't wait to see how that's handled. Sounds like a really emotional one, too. Glad you enjoyed it! :)

    Kirsty @ StudioReads

  2. I don't read that much YA - not into the teen drama as you mention. :-) Yet your review makes this sound intriguing. Thanks for sharing.


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