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Sunday, September 21, 2014

[REVIEW] Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Love Letters to the Dead

Author: Ava Dellaira
Genre: YA Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction
Published: April 1st 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Purchase from: Amazon | The Book Depository
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. 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 the choppy waters of 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. 


My Thoughts

Dear Ava Dellaira,

Your book broke my heart. I didn't know what to expect from Love Letters to the Dead when I started reading it, but it totally took me by surprise. It was hauntingly beautiful and raw and poignant that it made my heart ache over and over again. And I loved it. This book's a masterpiece.

I really liked the style in which it was written. I liked the concept of writing letters to the people who were already gone, but somehow are still here with us. These people touched the lives of Laurel and her sister, May, in some way or another and I think it's only befitting that Laurel "talked" to them when she refused to talk to anyone.

Actually, I struggled through reading Love Letters to the Dead. It was a difficult read for me. The story was sad and full of pain and I often found myself feeling a bit down. But what kept me glued to this book was the words. You write so beautifully, Ava. You have a way with words that make them alive. They're not just there tell us the story. They're there to make us feel the story.

I also liked the honesty of the characters. Laurel was full of guilt, grief and anger but she didn't know how to let it all out. Sky – kind, mysterious and scarred Sky – was there but he couldn't help her, not really. Laurel had amazing friends, and though they were flawed and imperfect, they took her when she felt she had no one. Hannah, Natalie, Kristen and Tristan all had their own issues but they were funny and kind and caring and great friends to Laurel. I liked Laurel's character development, too. It may be a bit slow, but it's good that she finally got out of her sister's shadow and found her own self.

This book poked holes in my heart. One of the most painful parts of the book was Laurel's letter to Kurt Cobain about his daughter. It made me cry. You perfectly captured the feeling of grief over losing someone and turned it into this magnificent story that touched us.

Thank you for such a good story, Ava. It might be difficult, but it was beautiful and real. Thank you for the wonderful characters. Thank you for reminding me that "we were here. Our lives matter." Love Letters to the Dead is a book that will stay with me for a long time.


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Julie @ Books and Insomnia

Julie is a Filipina blogger who pretends she has insomnia so she can stay up late reading. When she's not buried in books, she can be found watching anime, drinking chocolate-flavored instant coffee, lurking on the internet, daydreaming and talking about herself in third person. She loves purple and anything sweet!


  1. I think this sounds like a fantastic and emotional story. I like the way letters are used to explore Lauren's feelings.

    Fantastic review!

    1. It really is fantastic and emotional. I had a great time reading this book. :) Thanks for dropping by, Christina! :)

  2. Wonderful review. I loved this book so much too! It was simply beautiful

  3. Beautiful review, Julie! Loved how you chose to prescribe it to Ava herself, in such a personal way. Thanks for letting us see that!
    I loved Love Letters to the Dead as well - opened up holes in my chest, too. I think this book is absolutely beautiful, and absolutely haunting, and absolutely underrated. Like, everyone everywhere should read it, you know?

    1. I know, right? I wish more people would read and enjoy this book. Glad to know you loved Love Letters to the Dead, too. :) Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.


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