Love Letters To the Dead - YA Review by Rayna Grace C

Reader: Rayna Grace C.
Age: 15
Title: Love Letters to the Dead
Author: Ava Dellaira
Publisher: Farrar Straus, & Giroux
Pub Date: 04/01/2014
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: When I picked this book up at 11:00 Thursday night, I am not sure what I was expecting, but it was not this. By the third page I was in tears (I do not cry during books, and if I do, I can count the tears on one hand) and after the book was finished (At 4:36 AM) I am certain I was a sobbing incoherent mess. I went to school three hours later and was completely changed. My friends were kind of concerned, actually. This book has left me with so much to think about, so many life lessons, I want to ask if I can keep the Advance Reader Copy in my possession to highlight and bookmark all of the profound quotes, which I have never felt the urge to do.  Every single character in this book is completely different than the rest, even though many are friends and share some of the same hobbies. Each person was beautifully crafted and felt so tangible; each individual had amazing potential, yet no one was without a flaw. The protagonist, Laurel was no exception to these truths; her voice was phenomenal and I felt completely engulfed in her perspective while reading.

Honestly, I do not know what to even say right now, because normally I have so many things I find wrong with a book I can ramble on for at least a single-spaced page on Microsoft Word, but this book is pretty much flawless, in my opinion, so I feel like I am just running around in circles right now, excitedly rambling about a book only a few dozen people in the entire world have read. My biggest problem with the whole entire book right now is that I cannot talk to my friends about it, which is quite an accomplishment for Ava Dellaira. So, to quickly conclude this long-winded love letter because I do not want to sound like a totally broken record, I adore this book and cannot wait for Dellaira’s next story.

Memorable or Forgettable: The deep thematic undertones in this book were so original and genuine that I know I will have this book in the back of my mind for years, if not for the rest of my life. The idea that perfection cannot be achieved even when one finds a partner is not a new idea, but one very few would ever let themselves admit. It is hard enough to know that you will never be flawless or completely pure when you are old enough to understand what that means, but to realize that even when you find the other shoe, your life will not magically become picture-perfect is a revelation too terrifying for many (including myself, before this book) to face. Love Letters to the Dead will help open the door and transition many teens (and hopefully adults) to come to these conclusions with ease and acceptance. I cannot wait for this book to be published so then all my friends and my mom and my mom’s friends will all have to read it.
Cover: The cover to this book is very good (like a 7 out of 10, for me) but I do not think it really captures the right audience. It portrays more of an I-may-be-alternative-and-interesting-but-am-probably-really-mainstream-and-unoriginal romance novel, but this is actually a breakthrough piece that teaches a lesson I think many adults and teens should learn. Okay, so I kind of have an idea for what I would want to be the cover (because I am crazy,) so my idea (you really don't have to take this seriously, I’m just a kid with an overactive imagination and an obsession with good books) would be a close-up of (hypothetically May's) heart-shaped sunglasses set on the ground in front of the Cliff at dusk with the sky in the background. Sorry, I just really like heart-shaped sunglasses and dusk; I'm not trying to be pushy or anything, I swear.
Age Range: 14 through 17
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation:  When Laurel's sister dies under deplorable circumstances, she needs a fresh start. She transfers to a new school and begins her life anew, befriending spectacular individuals who each have a life lesson to teach, if someone is willing to listen. Laurel writes letters to celebrities who have passed for a school assignment and paints her life in rich detail, which flawlessly pulls back the curtain on the "perfect relationship."

tags:  contemporary / realistic fiction / ya lit

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