Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira is about a girl named Laurel and her adventures and friendships as she attempts to navigate the new world of high school and cope with the loss of her sister. She receives an assignment in English class to write a letter to a dead person, and soon, she begins using these letters to pour out her emotions to people who can’t judge her. I really enjoyed both the writing and the main character in this book, and I would give it a 8.7 out of 10 on my magical scale of magic book ratings.
Things I Liked:
- I was nervous about this book being in the format of letters, because I did not like the writing at all in Perks of Being a Wallflower, which is also written in letters. However, I was pleasantly surprised. I thought Laurel’s voice was much more mature and compelling: it felt like a high-schooler writing and not an eight year-old. Ava Dellaira pulled off a letter format novel very well.
- I also really liked the combination of anecdotal and poetic writing. The poetic writing describes Laurel’s emotions, fears, and growth beautifully. Overall, the writing is just on point. One of my favorite passages was when Laurel is deciding to try to be brave and start over: “It was as if an invisible band started playing the sound track to a new life. I heard [Kurt Cobain]. I wondered if this was how May felt when she was in high school… The world she’d disappeared into was here. I looked up from my blush, away from Sky, whose eyes were still on me, and turned to Natalie and Hannah. I laughed out loud, full of the secret someone I could become. Hello, hello, hello.“
- Laurel and Sky are adorable. *melts into a pile of happy, romantic goo* I also like what Sky’s name represents: he is this brand new adventure just waiting to happen, someone full of new possibilities for Laurel. The sky is the limit (literally) in their relationship.
- I loved Laurel’s friend group. This really made me think, too, about how I need to be nicer to “outsiders.” When I envision Laurel’s friend group, I see them as those kids you might automatically assume are just too strange to be seen with. But they’re super awesome characters! I need to do a better job of being kind to people like them, because they’re actually pretty cool.
- Tristan and Kristen *laughs for a thousand years*
- This conversation with Tristan and this quote in particular: “Then he said, ‘Laurel, you couldn’t have saved your sister. But, love, you’ve got to save yourself. Do that for me, okay? Because you are worth it.’ No one had ever said that to me before.” *sobs for ten thousand years*
Things I Didn’t Like:
- I felt a little bit overwhelmed by all of the… for lack of a better word, immorality. It felt like too much of it happens to one character, if you know what I’m saying, but that feeling wasn’t as overwhelming as it’s been in other books (such as Perks of Being a Wallflower).
- I was disappointed when Laurel gives her letters to her teacher. I kind of wanted them to remain her little secret, or for her to reveal them to her friends, family, or Sky. Mrs. Buster doesn’t seem significant enough for Laurel to give her the letters, so that part of the ending felt anticlimactic.
Favorite Character: Laurel, hands down. I don’t remember the last time when I related so well to a character right off the bat or rooted so hard for a character. I really, really wanted Laurel to overcome her struggles, to open up to people, and to discover who she is. She is so, so relatable: she’s bad at flirting (I laughed out loud when Sky asks her, “What’s up?” and she just responds with, “I saw you the other day”), she has a hard time opening up to people about her struggles, she loves her sister fiercely. I saw much of myself in her, and that made me cheer her on with the utmost enthusiasm as I watched her grow.
Overall, both Laurel and the fantastic writing make this book a wonderful read. The character development is clear and well-defined, and the adventures and relationships are amazing. The writing tells both the story and the feelings beautifully. Thank you Ava Dellaira for bringing this book into the world!