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 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.
In a voice that’s as lyrical and as true as a favorite song, Ava Dellaira writes about one girl’s journey through life’s challenges with a haunting and often heartbreaking beauty.
First Sentence: Dear Kurt Cobain, Mrs. Buster gave us our first assignment in English today, to write a letter to a dead person.
Love Letters to the Dead isn’t usually my type of book. Heartful, deep contemporaries and I usually don’t get along, but when I saw the hype building up for this book, I couldn’t help but be swayed to read it. In the end, I don’t know whether I’m happy to have picked this one up or to be sad since I could have been reading another book using the time I’ve read Love Letters to the Dead. I have a mix of those two feelings regarding Love Letters to the Dead.
It took a very long time for me to get invested in Love Letters to the Dead. I feel like there are basically two parts to the book: the section before the big reveal and the section after the big reveal. Basically, I could care less about the story, the characters, the happenings before the big reveal, but after the big reveal, the book just grabbed me and I couldn’t put it down. If the beginning of Love Letters to the Dead starts off slow for you, I strongly recommend you to continue reading on because the end of the book is totally worth getting through the slow beginning.
“I think it’s like when you lose something so close to you, it’s like losing yourself. That’s why in the end, it’s hard for her to write even. She can hardly remember how. Because she barely knows what she is anymore.” (13)
For people who do not know, Love Letters to the Dead is a book consisting of “letters” written to the dead by a girl named Laurel. One kind of minor issue I had with Love Letters to the Dead is that Laurel is about 15 years old or younger, yet she somehow remembers the exact words used in dialogues she and her friends had spoken that day. (I say “about” because Laurel never mentions her age as far as I know, but she does mention her friend’s age, which is 15 years old, so I’m assuming Laurel is also 15 years old too.) To make things more clear, Laurel’s “letters” consists of dialogue that she deems important enough to write about, which surprises me because letters to somebody usually aren’t written using dialogue. What surprises me the most is that 15 year old Laurel remembers who said what and what words they used exactly the day she writes the letter. I’m in college and I can’t remember what I ate earlier this morning, never mind the exact words in conversations my friends and I have spoken.
But life isn’t like that. You can’t be sure how it’s going to come out, even if you do everything right. They turn around on you, lives do. (32)
Okay, I have to admit, I was a bit judgmental while reading Love Letters to the Dead. Fine, I wasn’t “a bit” judgmental, but a lot judgmental. I couldn’t help it though; I wasn’t at all prepared for 15 year old students (and some characters that were about 17 years old) who smoke cigarettes, drink, smoke pot, drive without a license, sneak out in the middle of the night, and have crazy wild sex. Love Letters to the Dead also consists of a lot of dark topics (like you can’t tell from the above list) like rape. Honestly, I feel like this book should have a warning label of some kind on it. However, in the end, despite all the characters endearing personalities, they all just grew on me, with the exception of the truly horrible characters of course.
The one thing I loved the most about Love Letters to the Dead is that it’s full of gorgeous, beautiful quotes. I’ve written down at least ten quotes while reading and wanted to write down a lot more, but was just too lazy to. There are literally beautiful quotes on every two pages in Love Letters to the Dead.
At least that’s what I imagined, because I know that it can be hard to believe that someone loves you if you are afraid of being yourself, or if you are not exactly sure who you are. It can be hard to believe that someone won’t leave. (145)
After reading Love Letters to the Dead, I found out from my friend that Ava Dellaira is the producer of The Perks of Being A Wallflower movie. After knowing that fact, I start seeing the similarities between those two books; they both talk about dark subjects, have very flawed characters, and have lots of quotable lines. There is absolutely no doubt that I definitely did like Love Letters to the Dead a lot better than I liked The Perks of Being A Wallflower, which honestly isn’t saying much because I absolutely strongly disliked The Perks of Being A Wallflower. (I wonder how many of you guys are staring at me in horror right now.)
Overall, I don’t know whether or not I want to recommend Love Letters to the Dead to other people. In the end, I think it really depends on whether you’ll mind a slow beginning just to reach a gorgeous ending.