Release Date: May 2014
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Source: Recieved as a ARC from The Five Mile Press (thank you)
Links: Goodreads | Author's Website | Buy the book
What starts as a school assignment to write to a dead person or celebrity, becomes Laurel's way to find a voice in a shouting world. Laurel is a shy character who has always been somewhat of a shadow to her older sister, May. May and Laurel had a very close bond and the death of May left Laurel shattered. Laurel moves to a school where no one knows about what happened to her sister, there she is given this assignment. Write to a dead person, she writes to celebrities who inspire her, artists like Judy Garland, Kurt Cobain and River Pheonix to name a few. It becomes her way to deal with her life and the grief she is dealing with and I loved the idea of this concept. Letters that will never be read. I found the letter format really engaging and I was instantly transported into Laurel's world.
Another thing I liked about the letter format was that we found out about Laurel and also bits and pieces about the celebrities her letters were addressed to. Which was really cool as they were things I didn't know. It inspired me to research these celebrities a bit. It was really nice how each artist impacted Laurel in a different way and how she found ways to relate to them. It was like she was writing to dear friends. Because of the letter format I thought it was similar to one of my 2013 favourites, Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher. So hopefully if you enjoyed that, you'll like Love Letters to the Dead.
I enjoyed the variety of characters in Love Letters to the Dead, each similar but all unique. It was nice seeing how they helped Laurel find herself and were always so accepting of her. I also enjoyed the sub storylines that the other characters had. I liked the relationship between Sky and Laurel but for some reason I didn't like him as much towards the end. As a reader you not only want to feel for the characters but feel emotion with the characters and I felt that. I was at times brought near tears and others I was smiling. It's a very emotional and heart-warming book. From the first page I was hooked and that continued throughout.
Many authors describe their friends work as amazing and when Stephen Chbosky described Love Letters to the Dead as 'a bold new literary voice', I found myself agreeing. Even though Laurel was still finding her own voice, it stood out to me. Her character growth was really well done and sweet to watch. I've pegged this as one the most emotional and beautiful reads I've read in 2014. It's filled with so many wonderful quotes and sweet to sad scenes. Just overall a great read and an even better debut. I definitely highly reccomend this, I can already see myself re-reading this meaningful coming of age YA novel.