Title: Love Letters to the Dead
Author: Ava Dellaira
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Pub Date: 04/01/14
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I wish I had been able to read this book the summer before going into high school. The basic story has been told before: a lonely girl arrives in a bewildering new place and learns to navigate it. What makes this book stand out is the use of Laurel’s letters to various dead people she admires (especially Kurt Cobain) to tell the story of her grief and explorations of high school life. Laurel makes good and bad decisions, struggles with a family gone cold and distant since the death of her sister, and eventually finds solace. The prose is beautiful, believable, and doesn’t shy away from intense emotion.
Memorable or Forgettable: This book was memorable for me mostly because of the main character’s voice and the sense of longing you get from reading her letters. I especially liked the idea of a teenager reaching out to dead people as a way to feel connected. The only thing I didn’t like was that this book came a little late for me, since I’ve already finished high school. I think it would be much more powerful and meaningful for younger teens (so go forth and pick this up, high schoolers to be!).
Cover: The cover does a wonderful job of reflecting the overall feel of the book. Laurel is precariously balanced on the word “DEAD”, a little writing speck in a huge purple sky. The cover is aesthetically pleasing while already giving you a taste of the story and the main character.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
tags: contemporary / realistic fiction / ya lit