Book Review: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

18140047Title: Love Letters to the Dead
Author: Ava Dellaira
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pub Date: May 1, 2014
Format: Paperback
Pages: 323
Source: Purchased
Genre(s): YA, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: ★★★★★
Goodreads || Buy on Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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 review:

“And maybe what growing up really means is knowing that you don’t have to be just a character, going whichever way the story says. It’s knowing you could be the author instead.”

Dear Ava Dellaira,

Your book broke my heart, letter by letter. My favourite letters were the ones that Laurel wrote to Kurt Cobain. Something about Kurt has always stuck with me. His life haunts me, and these letters captured the admiration, understanding, disappointment, and resentment I have felt towards him throughout my life. I didn’t know him personally, obviously, but his life (and death and music) have been very significant in shaping how I view the world. The same can be said about the letters written to E.E. Cummings, Amelia Earhart, Amy Winehouse, and the countless others who were addressed in this novel.

Your book, Love Letters to the Dead, has once again reminded me why I started writing in the first place. Just like Laurel. It all started with a prompt, an unanswered question, a hidden truth, and then spilled ink–the heartbreak underneath that threatens to spill out over the pages of my journal.

I haven’t felt this compelled to write since 2006, when I first read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, so I sincerely thank you for the inspiration.

Your reader,


Dear reader(s) of my blog,

This book is fantastic. If you enjoyed The Perks of Being a Wallflower, you will love Love Letters to the Dead. This is a coming-of-age novel that follows a young girl’s transition through adolescence as she struggles to cope with grief and loss and tragedy, all while navigating the murky waters of high school. I highly recommend this book.

This book is so similar to Perks, in fact, that it may actually annoy you. It ended up having the opposite effect on me. Perks is the book that got me into writing and I re-read it several times a year, so reading this was a nice (yet similar) change. But I totally understand if these diary-type stories are not your thing. It’s alright if that’s not your cup of tea. To me, there’s just something so magical about stories that are told through letters. It’s like someone is entrusting you with all of their deepest, darkest secrets. It’s something special between the writer and the recipient of the letter. I hope you read it, and if you do, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I guess that’s all I have to say.

Your reviewer,



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