- Publisher: Hot Key Books
- Format: Paperback | 336 pages
- Dimensions: 129mm x 198mm x 25mm | 269g
- Publication date: 1 May 2014
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 1471402886
- ISBN 13: 9781471402883
- Sales rank: 1,238
Sometimes the best letters are the ones that go unansweredIt 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'd 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 died. But 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 realisation that only you can shape your destiny. A lyrical, haunting and stunning debut from the protege of Stephen Chbosky (THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER).
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Ava Dellaira is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow, and trained as a poet. She grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and got her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago. In addition to being a producer of the film version of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, Ava Dellaira is also Stephen Chbosky's protege. She currently lives in Santa Monica, where she is at work on her second book. Follow Ava on Twitter: @avadellaira
By Julie Rimpula 20 Sep 2014
Dear Ava Dellaira,
Your book broke my heart. I didn't know what to expect from Love Letters to the Dead when I started reading it, but it totally took me by surprise. It was hauntingly beautiful and raw and poignant that it made my heart ache over and over again. And I loved it. This book's a masterpiece.
I really liked the style in which it was written. I liked the concept of writing letters to the people who were already gone, but somehow are still here with us. These people touched the lives of Laurel and her sister, May, in some way or another and I think it's only befitting that Laurel "talked" to them when she refused to talk to anyone.
Actually, I struggled through reading Love Letters to the Dead. It was a difficult read for me. The story was sad and full of pain and I often found myself feeling a bit down. But what kept me glued to this book was the words. You write so beautifully, Ava. You have a way with words that make them alive. They're not just there tell us the story. They're there to make us feel the story.
I also liked the honesty of the characters. Laurel was full of guilt, grief and anger but she didn't know how to let it all out. Sky – kind, mysterious and scarred Sky – was there but he couldn't help her, not really. Laurel had amazing friends, and though they were flawed and imperfect, they took her when she felt she had no one. Hannah, Natalie, Kristen and Tristan all had their own issues but they were funny and kind and caring and great friends to Laurel. I liked Laurel's character development, too. It may be a bit slow, but it's good that she finally got out of her sister's shadow and found her own self.
This book poked holes in my heart. One of the most painful parts of the book was Laurel's letter to Kurt Cobain about his daughter. It made me cry. You perfectly captured the feeling of grief over losing someone and turned it into this magnificent story that touched us.
Thank you for such a good story, Ava. It might be difficult, but it was beautiful and real. Thank you for the wonderful characters. Thank you for reminding me that "we were here. Our lives matter." Love Letters to the Dead is a book that will stay with me for a long time.
By TheBookHangover 28 Jul 2014
There has been a lot of hype surrounding this book so far this year, both on Tumblr and BookTube, so IÃ????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??ve been super eager to pick it up. I'm so glad I did.
When I started this book, I expected that there would be a letter here in there to break up the story, but no, the whole story was written in the format of her letters to various dead famous people. I was worried that I wouldnÃ????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??t be able to lose myself in the storyline, and that the letters would feel disjointed and wouldnÃ????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??t flow, but I was oh-so beautifully wrong. However, I have to mention that there were points in the book where I would forget who Laurel was writing to, so when she would directly reference them, I felt a little lost and had to go back to remind myself of who sheÃ????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??s talking to.
I actually really liked Laurel. At times I was a little annoyed at her, but everyone grieves in different ways and LaurelÃ????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??s way of getting through her sisterÃ????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??s death just happened to slightly irritate me. I loved her friends and family; they each brought something different to Laurel's character.
I feel like May was sort of like LaurelÃ????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??s manic pixie dream girl and this book was mostly about LaurelÃ????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¢??s journey to recognising that her sister was not perfect. But rather that she was a terribly flawed teenager who was just trying to find her way through life, in the very same way that Laurel finds herself doing now.
Towards the end of the book I started getting a little disillusioned with the plot and it ended up being a solid 4 star read. It was incredibly enjoyable and easy to get through.
By Kate @ Fictional Thoughts 06 Jun 2014
When LaurelÃ??Ã?Â¢??s sister May died, Laurel felt like she had no one left. Her mother moved to California to some kind of retreat and she hasnÃ??Ã?Â¢??t had a real conversation with her father in a long time. When her English teacher sets the class an assignment of writing a letter to someone who has died, Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain Ã??Ã?Â¢?? her late sisterÃ??Ã?Â¢??s favourite singer. What starts as a piece of assessment turns into so much more. Laurel finds that she can tell dead celebrities all the things she keeps bottled up inside. Musicians, poets, actresses and even the voice of Mister Ed Ã??Ã?Â¢?? each of them means something different to Laurel. Though her letters to the dead, Laurel finds her voice.
This book is a story about friendship, secrets, coming of age and grief. Laurel is grieving the loss of not only her sister but May was also her best friend and closest ally. ItÃ??Ã?Â¢??s hard for Laurel and changing schools so she can start anew with people who donÃ??Ã?Â¢??t know about May only isolates her further. This book is at times a difficult read. Not for how it was written but because of the subject matter. In trying to cope with MayÃ??Ã?Â¢??s passing, Laurel makes some decisions which take her down some scary and dangerous roads. She is so young and comes across as so naive but the more we get to see LaurelÃ??Ã?Â¢??s journey we see how hard her life was even before May died.
Love Letters to the Dead is also about first loves. The romance in this book was so hopeful and optimistic with all the awkwardness and problems which come with teenage relationships. The depth of friendship is also explored and witnessing the ups and downs of these relationships was amazing. LaurelÃ??Ã?Â¢??s friends may be unconventional and have their own things going on but they are still there for each other when they need it most.
This book is beautiful written. LaurelÃ??Ã?Â¢??s thoughts are poetic and poignant but her conversations with the living were often clumsy. LaurelÃ??Ã?Â¢??s letters were never really to celebrities but rather a way to sort out her feelings of guilt and unhappiness. She grows so much over the course of the novel and it took a while for Laurel to come to terms with what happened. Her refusal to deal with MayÃ??Ã?Â¢??s death was portrayed in a realistic manner and LaurelÃ??Ã?Â¢??s pain was palpable.
There are pop-culture references scattered liberally throughout the novel and while there are recent ones, I wondered while I read it if this book would have been more appropriate if it had been set n the nineties. Kurt Cobain, his music as well as River Phoenix are a driving force behind many of the letters Laurel writes and there are times when I almost forgot this book was set in the present day. Despite this Ã??Ã?Â¢?? this book is still relevant to all those reading no matter when the references were popular.
Love Letters to the Dead is a thought-provoking and emotional read. Dealing with some very adult issues like drug use, depression and death, this beautifully written book is both heartbreaking and moving.
By Nitzan Schwarz 18 May 2014
LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD is a poignant, touching, beautiful story of coming to terms with death and growing up. Of finding yourself among the wreckage and accepting who that person is--maybe even coming to love he or she. For me, this is a book that I highly recommend to everyone out there.
Laurel, the teenage girl telling the story, is trying to deal with her sister's death. She does so by writing... to dead people, about everything that happens to her, and everything that has happened in the past. May, Laurel's sister, was almost a part of Laurel. She was so closely tied to Laurel's identity, to who Laurel wanted to be that without her, she's not sure who she is anymore.
Her journey is an emotional one. One that makes you emotional on the way. She grows tremendously through the book, to the point that she stops trying to be someone else and just becomes herself. And herself is good enough. In fact, herself, to me at least, was beautiful.
Alongside Laurel, there is an amazing cast of supporting characters - each rich and with their own interesting and unique story. And the prose of the entire story is absolutely stunning, and there are quotes I'll remember for the rest of my life.
"If beauty is truth, and truth is beauty, they are defined by each other, so how do we know the meaning of either?"
By Brandi Kosiner (Brandi Breathes Books) 25 Mar 2014
Did not finish: Stopped at 5%
I wanted to read Love Letters to the Dead because it sounded like it would be an emotional story about Laurel healing and figuring out who she was. Besides the cover really catches my eye which doesn't hurt.
I guess I was expecting something different though from Love Letters, and it is probably all my fault. I expected maybe a letter here and there, but that is the complete format of the book. And that is not my thing. I have a hard time connecting with Laurel and it felt like she was projecting a voice that really wasn't her, because we tend to put a better foot forward on paper, to someone else, even if they are dead.
The obsession with Sky bothered me to, all we had was a glance and his looks. While I will admit I love a man in a leather jacket, there felt like there needed to be more.
That isn't to say that the writing is poor or the characters are poorly constructed, it's personal on my end.
I'd love to see if you have a great review of any of this books and what you loved about it.
LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD is more than a stunning debut. It is the announcement of a bold new literary voice. Stephen Chbosky, author of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER