· “You can be noble and brave and beautiful and still find yourself falling.” ·
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.
Goodreads Rating: 5*
A few months ago, I finished reading this book and decided to put the review on hold because the experience had been too—what’s the right word? Intense? Hard? Emotional? Maybe. But also beautiful, healing, and inspiring.
“Love Letters to the Dead” was certainly the most dificult read I’ve done this year, not only for all the pain the characters are in, but also for the themes Ava addresses. Throughout a series of letters to famous dead people that influenced her life, Laurel tells us her story—one that’s full of hurtful events, feelings she doesn’t quite understand and people she’s getting to know. And we learn, as we read Laurel’s words and listen to her music, read her favorite poems or even watch her movies, important lessons:
“But we aren’t transparent. If we want someone to know us, we have to tell them stuff.”
As I turned the pages, I fell for a new character and experienced more heartache. Getting to know them, things only seemed to get worst for them.
Inevitably, my heart broke for Hannah, Natalie Sky, May, Laurel (our precious storyteller), and Aunt Amy. And then, somehow, Ava’s gifted writing style made it okay not to be okay. To hurt. And to be able to heal.
“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.”
All in all, this was one of the most beautiful books I’ve read this year, filled with inspiring quotes and insightful thoughts. Full of pain, full of loss… and yet so full of life.