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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Review: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

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Title: Love Letters to the Dead
Author: Ava Dellaira
Publisher: Macmillan
Pub. Date: April 1, 2014
Genre: YA
Rec. Age Level: 14+

Laurel’s sister May died last year and, despite the fact that it’s often on her mind, she doesn’t want anyone at her new school to know about it. She doesn’t want anyone to know about Laurel or that her family is scattered and broken or about anything else that happened before now. Freshman year is a clean start. When Laurel is assigned to write a letter to a dead person, she chooses Kurt Cobain - who better to understand May and the circumstances surrounding her death than her favorite tragic rock star? As Laurel struggles to cope with the loss of her sister and the ups and downs of new friends and first love the letters continue. Some addressed to Kurt Cobain, others to Amelia Earhardt, Amy Winehouse, Heath Ledger, e.e. cummings… As the letters pile up, the secrets Laurel battles rise to the surface, forcing an emotional confrontation in order for Laurel to move forward with her life.

Love Letters to the Dead is so beautifully written that it almost makes the emotional pain it inflicts sweet. From the first pages until the last, I was enchanted by the language and descriptions, the raw and honest emotion within Laurel’s letters. For me, the events surrounding May’s death and the secrets Laurel was hiding weren’t really a mystery; it was accompanying Laurel on her journey to understand and move past what happened that was truly compelling.

It isn’t obvious from the description, but Love Letters to the Dead is told entirely in letters; there aren’t just letters here and there throughout the book. Some readers don’t like epistolary novels, but I adore them. Novels in this format – especially those that feature letters from only the main character with no responses, like Love Letters to the Dead – feel like a diary. Letters offer a unique vantage point from which to view the character, exposing nuances and details that might otherwise go overlooked.

Lovers of music and poetry will no doubt love this novel. Many of Laurel’s letters are addressed to deceased musicians and poets, most of whom I think readers will be familiar with, but, even if they aren’t, it’s likely they will be inspired to go learn more about these individuals Laurel entrusts her story to.

Love Letters to the Dead is unforgettable and I urge you to read it.


  1. I can't wait to read this book, it sounds really great!

  2. I adore epistolary books too! I just finished reading this one on Friday. Fabulous book for sure. I am actually going to run it over to my coblogger's house because I loved it so much!

  3. Fiendish looks good!

    Congrats on completing your degree. :-)

    Good luck on your move!

  4. I am so excited to get my hands on this one, so glad you loved it!

    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

  5. Thank you, April! And FIENDISH was really good... I don't know how it compares to Yovanoff's other books because I haven't read them, but I'd recommend it!

  6. It is definitely an emotional read, but so worth it!

  7. Yay for book sharing! I adore epistolary novels... Did you read Ketchup Clouds? It got mixed reviews but it's one of my absolute favorites!

  8. I hope you love it as much as I did!

  9. I'm currently reading it and I definitively love it. I'm a huge epistolary fan. It's really great to see the evolution of the character through letters.

  10. On top of the cover already being so visually stunning, your lovely review makes me want to pick this up immediately!

  11. THAT COVER. And your review. And....I NEED THIS. I can't even begin to
    comment on how amazing it all sounds. Love the review, Sara!

    Decking Ipe information


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