REVIEW: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

April 17, 2014

Edition: Hot Key Books Paperback
Release Date: May 2014
Pages: 323
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Source: Recieved as a ARC from The Five Mile Press (thank you)
Links: Goodreads | Author's Website | Buy the book
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.

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. 


  1. I absolutely loved this book and I'm glad you did too! It's sort of reminiscent of The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, yes?

  2. I so excited to read this so we can discuss!

  3. Awesome review Sunny, glad to hear you really enjoyed it! I'm especially interested in the letter format of this book. I have this on my shelf and I can't wait to read it.

  4. This sounds so sad but at the same time, like you've pointed out, heart-warming. I think letters is a very clever and different way to approach certain topics so I'm definitely intrigued.

    Great review! :)

  5. pretty nice blog, following :)

  6. I’m honestly not even really sure where to start with this book, other than to say it is one of the best books I have ever read.

    Top rated Fishing Lodge Alaska

  7. Love Letters To The Dead is one of the books I wish I'd had as a teenager. I'm really glad you enjoyed it and thank you for reminding me of this wonderful book <3

    Anjulie Te Pohe

  8. Love Letters To The Dead is the kind of book I wish I had as a teenager. I'm so glad thank you enjoyed it and thank you for reminding me of this wonderful book <3

    Anjulie Te Pohe


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