Love Letters to the Dead

Love Letters to the Dead

3.8 (79,039 ratings by Goodreads)
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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.
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Product details

  • 12-17
  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 145 x 211 x 30mm | 408g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0374346674
  • 9780374346676
  • 72,014

Review quote

One of Cosmopolitan Magazine's 125 Best YA Books Everyone Should Read, Regardless of Age

"Reminiscent of Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower, this is powerfully emotional stuff." --BCCB

"Dellaira's characters are authentically conceived and beautifully drawn." --The Horn Book

"Best for teens who enjoyed Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower." --School Library Journal

"Laurel and her friends' struggles and hard-won successes are poignant, and seeing Laurel begin to forgive herself and May is extremely moving." --Publishers Weekly

"I simply loved this book. 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

"A brilliant story about the courage it takes to keep living after your world falls apart. A heart-wrenching celebration of love and friendship and family." --Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak

"With beautiful observations of where life can take us, from grieving to celebrating, disappointment to wonder, LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD is a love letter to living." --Jay Asher, author of 13 Reasons Why

"Dear Ava Dellaira: Your book broke my heart, and pieced it back together. As with Kurt, Janis, Amelia and the others who are gone but still somehow here, LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD leaves an indelible mark." --Gayle Forman, author of If I Stay

"As wondrous--and as fearless--as a shooting star." --Lauren Myracle, author, The Winnie Years

"Riveting, captivating, utterly disarming. I could not put this book down! LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD is like discovering a shoebox full of notes addressed to someone else. I read fast, afraid I'd be caught peeking at something I wasn't ever supposed to see. A voyeuristic delight!" --Siobhan Vivian, author of The List

"Effective and satisfyingly heartbreaking." --Kirkus Reviews
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About Ava Dellaira

Ava Dellaira is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. She grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago. Love Letters to the Dead is her debut novel. She currently lives in Santa Monica.
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Rating details

79,039 ratings
3.8 out of 5 stars
5 31% (24,524)
4 33% (26,318)
3 24% (18,787)
2 8% (6,613)
1 4% (2,797)

Our customer reviews

Quick Blurb: What began as a simple English class project to write one letter to a dead person turned into something much greater for Laurel. She fills an entires notebook of letters to famous dead people, sharing her story in an attempt to find closure and acceptance in her sister�???�??�?�¢??s death. It�???�??�?�¢??s a coming-of-age story of heartbreaking reflection, leading up to a point where Laurel can finally move on and be her own person. The story covers Laurel�???�??�?�¢??s freshman year of high school, effortlessly weaving together the lives of the deceased famous people, her memories, and her present life. My Thoughts: This is such a wonderful debut novel. It�???�??�?�¢??s one of the best YA contemporaries to be published in the past few years. The story is beautiful, mixing elements of Stephen Chbosky�???�??�?�¢??s style of writing in The Perks of Being a Wallflower with some of the darker subjects matter covered in Laurie Halse Anderson�???�??�?�¢??s books. Laurel�???�??�?�¢??s voice carried the story throughout. Dellaira gets inside the head of this damaged teenager to capture the emotional struggles of Laurel. Because Laurel has unfortunately had to deal with much more than someone her age should ever have to deal with, her voice become detached throughout parts of the story. It�???�??�?�¢??s so effective. The reader experiences these moments of detachment with her, when it becomes just too heartbreaking. But in other parts of the story, Laurel is magnificently reflective, showing that even teenagers can be profound and mature. The side characters in this book also bring so much to the story. They all have distinct personalities and perspectives in share. The main side characters each get their own full plot arc, which makes them that much more three-dimensional and relatable. The letter format of the book allows for Dellaira to incorporate the lives of these dead people into Laurel�???�??�?�¢??s healing process. For being such a moving book, the language and wording remains simple throughout, allowing the reader to devour the story with ease. This book will definitely leave a certain pang in your stomach, making you think about the effects your life has on the people closest to you, in life and in death. You should definitely pick up this book, particularly if you enjoy Stephen Chbosky�???�??�?�¢??s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This story will not disappoint! I�???�??�?�¢??m adding Ava Dellaira to my list of new authors to keep a watch more
by Ryann Dannelly
Like many readers, Love Letters To The Dead's cover really drew me in. It's absolutely gorgeous. I've been reading a lot more contemporary YA lately and the unique idea of having the story set out in a series of letters to dead celebrities really appealed to the weirder side of me, so I made sure I read it as soon as possible. The opening 20% or so was really good with poetic writing and an interesting storyline. Laurel's sister has died and her mother has moved to California, leaving Laurel and her Dad to pick up the pieces. Laurel chooses to attend a school further away from her sister's old school, to avoid being 'that girl'. However, this doesn't work as Sky, a boy she spots the first day in the cafeteria, knew May and knew that Laurel was her sister. The she finds out that a teacher of hers knew May too. This book mostly focuses on Laurel trying to fit in with girls her age while dealing with a huge loss in her life and she uses the letters to cope and reflect on the events of the day. However, about 30% in it started getting quite dull and I started asking more questions. With a contemporary like this, certainly of the ones I've read, you only need about 200 - 250 pages. However this is dragged out to over 330 and it really dulled the story for me. I literally nearly fell asleep in a couple of places. The writing is poetic, sure, but that got old fast for me and felt forced, not the author's natural style. I'm not the author though so perhaps that is her style. I also was confused as to why so many different characters would all speak in this weird poetic style all time. The lovely unique aspect we have, the letter writing to celebrities that have died, actually started to downright piss me off. It's one thing writing to celebrities but the book really showed the celebrity culture and how we immerse ourselves in lives that are not ours. The main character makes lots of presumptions about the celebrities and how their lives must have been and it just felt... wrong to me. At one point, the most shocking part of the story for me, was the main character wondering if River Phoenix had been raped as a child. There's no proof of this and if I was his family I would be horrified (and would probably file a lawsuit or something). It just felt far too invasive. These were real people, not objects to pick and poke at like that. The more interesting storyline for me, that isn't mentioned in the description, is the lesbian (ish?) subplot. Hannah and Natalie, Laurel's friends, are clearly in love and they really struggle with that and trying to hide it from the school and relatives. I do wish this book had been from Natalie's point of view, I think it would have been a far more interesting read. I wasn't a fan of the ending either. I'm glad I read that far for the revelations and big reveals and such but that was also dragged out so that nearly every small storyline could be wrapped up with a pretty bow. If you like that sort of thing, great but it didn't feel right to be, to have everything happy and more
by Vickie Ramage
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