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 in this stunning debut from Ava Dellaira, Love Letters to the Dead.
Laurel is told to write a letter to a dead person. It doesn’t matter what it’s about. Well, her older sister, May recently passed away. They were extremely close and it’s been very hard for Laurel. She begins writing to Kurt Cobain. But when it comes time to turn it in, she can’t bring herself to do so. She then starts writing to all kinds of popular influences like Amy Winehouse. She doesn’t know what to do, her parents split before May died. But now her mom has moved across the country to California leaving her youngest behind with ex-husband and sister. Neither guardians know how to handle Laurel. Laurel confides in these dead famous people and confesses things she never thought would be said out loud.
I love how although she’s writing to dead people, the story still progresses on. Laurel in the beginning was scared and not sure what to do with her life after her sister passing. She doesn’t want to remember anything from that night. But the end of the book, she has done a complete 180. She’s much more confident in herself and willing to open up to those that are close to her.
This was such a compelling, beautifully written, and emotional book. There were times I wanted to burst out in tears. There were times where I got a little teary eyed. I liked all the different themes that played a part in this. Mostly the LGBT, you don’t see this very much in young adult books. It’s starting to grow, but still isn’t all that big yet. I adored this aspect! Loved Hannah and Natalie’s relationship that grew in this.
Everything about this book was absolutely beautiful! Probably one of my top favorite books of this year! I highly recommend reading!
“I know that it can be hard to believe that someone loves you if you are afraid of being yourself, or if you are not exactly sure who you are. It can be hard to believe that someone won’t leave.” — page 145
“Nirvana means freedom. Freedom from suffering. I guess some people would say that death is just that. So, congratulations on being free, I guess. The rest of us are still here, grappling with all that’s been torn up.”– page 190
“You think you know someone, but that person always changes, and you keep changing, too. I understood it suddenly, how that’s what being alive means. Our own invisible plates shifting inside of our bodies, beginning to align into the people we are going to become.”– page 296
“And maybe what growing up really means is knowing that you don’t have to be just a character, going whichever way the story says. It’s knowing you could be the author instead.”– page 301
“I know I wrote letters to people with no address on this earth, I know that you are dead. But I hear you. I hear all of you. We were here. Our lives matter.”– page 313