Author: Ava Dellaira
Publisher: Hot Key Books, May 1st, 2014
Source: ARC from publisher
Format: Paperback, 327 pages
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
It begins as an assignment for English class: write a letter to a dead person - any dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain - he died young, and so did Laurel's sister may - so maybe he'll understand a bit of what Laurel is going through. Soon Laurel is writing letters to lots of dead people - Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, River Phoenix, Amelia Earhart... it's like she can't stop. And she's certainly never dream of handing them in to her teacher. She writes about what it's like going to a new high school, meeting new friends, falling in love for the first time - and how her family has shattered since May dies. But as much as Laurel might find writing the letters cathartic, she can't keep real life out forever. The ghosts of her past won't be contained between the lines of a page, and she will have to come to terms with growing up, the agony of losing a beloved sister, and the realization that only you can shape your destiny.
Written by Chbosky’s protege, and praised by him on the cover, Love Letters to the Dead seems like a really promising read – indeed I thought so, this book as been on my wish list since November of last year, with a beautiful cover and intriguing blurb I think this caught the eyes of many people. I really wanted to like this book, but it seemed to have other ideas.
I found the format, letter writing, similar to that of Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher and frankly Dellaira’s book didn't measure up - I didn't feel any personality from the main character, Laurel, at all, and even though she’s the same age as me (fourteen) I couldn't relate to her at all. I didn't find Laurel the slightest bit interesting, it’s like she was trying too hard to be internally haunted by the ‘ghost’s of her past’ that it just felt really fake to me. This transparency backed up more by the fact that I didn't believe the grief of losing her sister was portrayed very well. Being someone with a sibling I know how I would feel if I lost mine, and in Lover Letters to the Dead it felt as though that grief was very toned down and ironed out. I did enjoy the secondary characters Hannah and Natalie though; they had more life to them and were one of the only reasons I carried on reading Love Letters to the Dead to the end.
Plot-wise… I’d say it was okay. I didn’t particularly like the romance that transpired between Sky and Laurel, perhaps if it was explored a little more in the book it would have been better executed. One thing that I really liked, and I mean, really really liked, was all the culture references I thought they were well explained and presents, although the fact that I could relate to that more than the main character isn’t exactly great.
All in all after reading Dellaira’s book I was disappointed, and this really saddens me because near the end of the book I felt like we were finally getting somewhere, finally getting some emotion and then it was over. This book has so much potential to be an amazing read, and whilst others may take more out of it, I was just left underwhelmed – I nearly went back and re-read the book; I had this desire to find something, like I’d missed out half the book, that I’d missed that real wow factor. But I didn't.
To surmise; I felt that Love Letters to the dead has very little personality, the author seemed to have lost her way half way through, but the secondary characters and culture references made it bearable.