Love Letters to the Dead – book review

Love Letters to the Dead

Love Letters to the Dead a different and enticing book, written by Ava Dellaira.

When Laurel’s English class assignment is to write a letter to a dead person, she writes about her much-admired sister who tragically died. Once she writes her first letter, one to Kurt Cobain, she can’t stop. She writes about her life, everything that has happened to her, her starting high school, the family that is her own but no longer really feels like it, falling in love for the first time, and trying to grieve for her sister, May. But it’s hard to mourn for someone you haven’t completely forgiven?

As Laurel writes these letters, she begins to accept the truth about her past and what happened to May. Only when she starts to see her sister as the person she really was – lovely and beautiful and deeply flawed – can she begin to truly discover her own path.

*

I had mixed feelings about Love Letters to the Dead. There were some aspects of it that I really enjoyed, others not so. The beginning was initially really enticing. I was excited to read this book and find out more about Laurel and what had happened in her life up to the point of her writing her first letter to a dead person. I liked the overall idea for the story – a girl trying to fit in at her school, getting over the death of her sister who she admired so much, and crushing on a boy at her school – and this was all told through the writing of letters to dead people. Because of that, it kind of had a journal entry-type feel to it.

The writing was informal and I thought the voice didn’t really reflect the character’s age. Laurel has just started high school in America. I’m not too familiar with the system of schooling there, but I’m guessing she would be around 15 years old. But her voice seemed too immature and juvenile. The way most of the letters were written followed a structure that didn’t vary or make it very interesting. Lauren usually talked about the person’s life, what she liked about them, how they would feel in certain situations and then she told them what was going on in her life. This structure got a bit repetitive and a little dull by the end. I still loved the idea of writing to dead people and telling them your problems as a way that you can subconsciously get over your problems yourself, but I just couldn’t really connect with Laurel’s voice.

I also found Laurel’s voice a bit inconsistent. There were times where Laurel seemed too philosophical, compared to what she sounded like in the rest of the book. Some of the things she said were really poetic and beautiful, it just didn’t match her personality, the way she acted, or the way she talked most of the time. The way the letters were written was also very disjointed with short and choppy sentences. If this book aimed to be exactly the same as a diary of the average 12 year-old, it certainly achieved that goal. It just didn’t make me feel.

I’m going to stay on the same topic of Laurel for a minute and talk about her character. I didn’t find her character very interesting or relatable. She was a little dull and wasn’t that unique. There was nothing about her that particularly stood out or stuck in my mind as being memorable. I got annoyed at her frequently for being too naïve to make her own decisions in life and stand up for what she believed in. She was constantly being pulled into things from peer pressure and I would have liked to see her character develop into a person who stood up for themselves and what they think, but unfortunately, I didn’t really feel that happen. She was too naïve to be a believable teenager and she is so much of a follower who is desperate to be loved that she becomes frustrating and annoying. Lots of bad things happened to Laurel in this book, but I didn’t really care about that because I didn’t feel connected to her. I wished I felt something for her so I could be more emotionally-invested in the story, but that unfortunately didn’t happen. Laurel is also supposed to be devastated over losing her sister, but I also didn’t really feel that. Her grief wasn’t there as much as I would have liked it to be. I got the sense that a lot of it was suppressed, but I would have liked to see her more emotional so I would feel something for her.

Laurel’s friends were the most interesting people in the story. Almost all of them were unique in some way and I liked getting to know them for the most part. Even though they could pressure Laurel into pretty much anything, at least they did something interesting. It felt like most of this book was Laurel talking about her school day and what happened and that OMG cute-boy Sky looked my way today! I’m sorry, but this got really boring. There was no chemistry between her and Sky and I was disappointed that Sky didn’t made me swoon at all. I want to swoon, because then I feel like an active participant in the book!
The end of this book was a bit predictable. It didn’t leave me with the in-awe feeling that I love. It didn’t leave me feeling anything, really. I really had high hopes for this book. In a way, it reminded me of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This book was similar in some ways to The Perks, and if I had to choose my favourite of them, it would definitely be The Perks. Overall, I’d give Love Letters to the Dead a score of 6 out of 10. If you’re considering reading this book, I wouldn’t get your hopes up too high. If you’ve read this one, let me know what your thoughts are!

Thank you to Hot Key Books Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!

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