Review: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

20140422-185107.jpgI was intrigued by this one from the moment I heard about it. The title, the cover, the description…all these things came together in a perfect storm of literary anticipation.

Dear Kurt Cobain…When Laurel is asked to write a letter to a dead person as part of an English assignment, she picks Kurt Cobain. He’s the closest connection she has to her dead sister, May. You see, Laurel is having a hard time moving past the sudden death of her beloved older sister. She’s moved to a new school hoping to get a fresh start. But her memories follow her everywhere. And people are still talking about “that girl who died”. So Laurel digs in and takes her writing assignment to the next level. Not only does she write to Kurt, but also Judy Garland, Janis Joplin, Amelia Earhart, Amy Winehouse, River Phoenix, and Heath Ledger among others. These aren’t just random dead people but instead those she feels some kind of connection to. Throughout the course of the story Laurel writes about starting a new school, making new friends, falling in love, coming to grips with her shattered family, and trying to move past May’s death.

I wondered several times throughout the story why Laurel didn’t just write to her sister instead of this menagerie of famous dead people. Wouldn’t it have been simpler than pouring her heart out to the voice of Mr. Ed? Of course, but then she’d have to confront a plethora of emotions about May and her death. Anger, regret, guilt…you name it and it’s there. So instead she puts her heart and soul into writing to those who can never read her words. And so her letters become a time capsule of her life after May, evidence of her life moving forward after a few stumbles. It’s her journey from being May’s adoring little sister to standing on her own and finding her way in life.

So did the book live up to my expectations? Beyond a doubt! While the characters and story itself are good enough to stand alone, the beauty is in the language of Laurel’s letters. I love stories that are written in a different style such as this one. Laurel’s inner dialogue with herself and what she wishes she could say to May plays out entirely in the form of her letters. The story flows easily from one letter to the next with no break in Laurel’s thinking. The character development is excellent and believable. This first novel from Ava Dellaira shows just how powerful and beautiful words can be if put together the right way. Five stars all the way for me!

~Thalia

Buy it Now: Love Letters to the Dead

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