I received this book for free from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Published by Straus and Giroux
Published on 2014-04-01
Genres: Abuse, Contemporary, Death, Family, Siblings
Source: Net Galley
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.
Laurel’s sister is dead.
Laurel just started high school at West Mesa High. She was supposed to go to Sandia, where her friends went to, but she decided that she needed a fresh start. Sandia was also her sister’s high school. The first few weeks of school was spent with her, sitting by the fence during lunch period. She was lost. She didn’t know how to be herself. She misses her sister, May, a lot. She wanted to be like her. Across from where she was sitting, she would always see this boy whose name is Sky.
In her English class, the teacher, Mrs. Buster, gave them an assignment – to write a letter to the dead. She found out that Mrs. Buster was actually one of May’s teacher from Sandia. She just transferred to West Mesa High. Laurel started her assignment by writing to famous dead people.
Dear Kurt Cobain…
This book made me pick up my iPad and scroll though my music. I do have Amy Winehouse, Nirvana, and Jim Morrison. I had to listen to Janis Joplin online, though, but her songs are just as familiar. I actually had to stop reading at times because I found myself jumping up and down to Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana. The perks of living alone. I can dance in my underwear. (Oops, mental picture!) LOL!
Almost everyday, Laurel started filling her notebook with letters to the dead. She would pour her heart out on those letters, sharing to them what’s been going on with her life. She found herself a circle of friends – Natalie, Hannah, Kristen and Tristan. She found herself finally pushing out of her shell, she felt like she was becoming May.
Then she fell in love.
…his hand found mine, and he held on to it, and he seemed like an anchor to the earth.
For the first time in a very long time, she felt happy.
Maybe that’s what being in love is. You just keep filling up, never getting fuller, only brighter.
But the stories that she shared in this book wasn’t always happy. Laurel wasn’t one to share secrets with her friends. The truth about her sister’s death is something that she holds so tight within herself. It was hard for her to really open up to the people that clearly cares a lot about her. It made her relationships suffer.
I found myself crying in some parts of the book. It made me remember feelings that I haven’t felt in a long time.
The book was bittersweet. I finished reading this in a day. I found myself turning page after page, wanting to find out how Laurel will overcome her sadness, albeit it wasn’t so obvious to other people. She carried this weight within herself that she hasn’t learned to let go yet. It wasn’t just her sister’s death that she’s carrying with her. There were so much more factors that made her close up. It broke my heart. But the stories wasn’t always about her, she told stories about her friends, too. I love her friends. They were great for her. I’d say that even though the author focused on Laurel’s life, Laurel did share a lot about the people around her.
If you’re easily touched, or if sad things make you cry, then make sure there’s some Kleenex handy when you’re reading this book. I loved that the story felt real, and I really do recommend this. #
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