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Love Letters to the Dead
by Ava Dellaira


Overview - 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.  Read more...

 
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More About Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
 
 
 
Overview
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."

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780374346676
  • ISBN-10: 0374346674
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
  • Publish Date: April 2014
  • Page Count: 327
  • Reading Level: Ages 12-18
  • Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.9 pounds


Related Categories

Books > > Social Themes - Death & Dying
Books > > Social Themes - Emotions & Feelings
Books > > Family - Siblings

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-02-10
  • Reviewer: Staff

Everything Laurel knows about high school, she learned from her older sister, but after May’s death, Laurel has to start freshman year on her own. After getting an assignment to write to someone who’s died, Laurel keeps going, and the book is structured as a journal in letters to Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, River Phoenix, Judy Garland, and others. Laurel uses the letters to talk about both the past and the unfolding present, especially the friends she makes, who are also struggling with the problems that played a role in May’s life and death. Debut author Dellaira gives Laurel a poet’s eye: when she first makes eye contact with the boy she has a crush on, it feels like “fireflies lighting under my skin.” Although Dellaria writes beautifully, the pervading melancholy feels one-note at times, and the letter format can get wearying, especially when Laurel tells the recipients about their own careers, the epistolary equivalent of expository dialogue. That said, Laurel and her friends’ struggles and hard-won successes are poignant, and seeing Laurel begin to forgive herself and May is extremely moving. Ages 12–up. Agent: Richard Florest, Rob Weisbach Creative Management. (Apr.)

 
BookPage Reviews

With a little help from my friends

Near Albuquerque, New Mexico, a teenager struggles to define herself in the aftermath of her parents’ divorce, the harsh newness of high school life and the recent death of her sister.

Laurel’s childhood innocence came to a sudden end when May, her beloved older sister, was killed just when Laurel was transitioning between middle school and high school. In the wake of the tragedy, Laurel’s mom split from the family and escaped to the California coast to clear her head. Laurel’s father has remained, but the death of his oldest child weighs heavily on him. To avoid an atmosphere of constant sadness and pain, Laurel chooses to attend a high school where nobody knows her family history. She doesn’t want anybody’s pity.

As she tries to fit in, Laurel befriends the eccentric and chain-smoking Natalie and Hannah, catches the eye of the mysterious and attractive Sky, and gets taken under the wing of kindly rebellious couple Tristan and Kristen. All the while, Laurel chronicles her grief process by writing letters to her deceased idols, starting with Kurt Cobain. But eventually Laurel will have to reveal her true self to her loved ones still living, or else risk losing their companionship forever.

Debut author Ava Dellaira earned her MFA in Poetry from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and has worked under the famous Stephen Chbosky, author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Dellaira even mimics Chbosky’s narrative device of addressing letters to people who may never read them, allowing her protagonist to be immensely honest and open. Dellaira handles these delicate subjects with such innocent deftness that it’s easy to forget this is a work of fiction.

 

Justin Barisich is a freelancer, satirist, poet and performer living in Atlanta. More of his writing can be found at littlewritingman.com.

 
BAM Customer Reviews