Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Published By: Hot Key Books
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon
Love Letters to the Dead was….definitely an interesting if not slightly unexpected read. I went into the book (obviously not literally) expecting it to be a more adult version of ‘Love, Aubrey’ by Suzanne LeFleur and came out the other side having read a parallel version of ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ where all the main characters are the opposite gender. Definitely not what I signed up for.
My lovely friend, Jasmine, recommended this book to me. Jasmine isn’t really an obsessive reader like I am, so for her to say it was ‘good’ was like me saying it was ‘the universe cannot exist without this book’ (as I did with the entire Percy Jackson franchise).I thought: “I love books about sisters.” ‘Fangirl’, ‘Sisters Red’, ‘…and unfortunately, I am used to one of the sisters dying…’The Lovely Bones’, ‘Love, Aubrey’. I thought: ‘definitely the book for me!’
The book contained a lot of themes that I was uncomfortable with, for example, underage drinking and drug use. This meant that I felt quite isolated from the characters and didn’t feel like I could relate to them at all. Sad. I know that these themes can be a realistic portray of some teenagers’ lives, but to me, their actions were too toxic and led to bad decision that I couldn’t feel as much sympathy for.
However, this book also conquers a lot of themes that I feel need more exposure in young adult literature, for example, homosexuality and abusive relationships. (Can you see where I’m drawing the ‘Perks’ parallels?) These topics are always interesting to read because reading about something and getting these kind of subjects out there is fuelling social change. Although Hannah and Natalie’s relationship held the same troubles as Patrick and Brad’s, this didn’t take away from the struggles the girls faced, even if it wasn’t the most original relationship dynamic.
Some of my favourite parts of the book was when Laurel would write about May when she was alive and young. Their relationship was built around Laurel idolising May, and May having to keep up the facade of her perfection for Laurel’s sake. The way that May died, or the cause of her death, remains slightly ambiguous but I like to hope it was the wind that broke her wings. I was fully submersed in the world that May created, and wasn’t at all surprised about how Laurel reacted to her sister’s death because of their close bond. It must be difficult to be the younger sister. Thank goodness I’m a twin!
The reveal at the end of the book….disappointed me. As I’ve said, it dealt with an abusive relationship that was similar to what Charlie experienced in ‘Perks’. I wanted Laurel not to feel so broken, because she had the power to make herself whole and it wasn’t helping that she wouldn’t open up to the one person who truly cared about her, Sky, the love interest. Sky also knew May, so there was an intriguing question building between the couple of whether Sky liked Laurel for herself or simply because she resembled May (to be honest, Laurel was wearing May’s clothes.)
Overall, I give ‘Love Letters to the Dead’ 3 out of 5 stars. I really enjoyed the letter writing format. There was nothing more rewarding than when I knew who she was writing to. Two poems were also used throughout the book “The Art of Losing” by Elizabeth Bishop and ‘I carry your heart’ by E.E.Cummings. (Did Dellaira just watch the movie ‘In Her Shoes’ while writing this?!) and a few of the poets I will be studying next year, which let me classifying reading ‘Love Letters’ as homework.
Generally, a nice debut. Don’t go into this thinking it’s going to be like ‘Love, Aubrey’ but if you’ve already read ‘Perks’ then maybe there’s no need to read this one…unless you prefer a female protagonist, in that case, this is the perfect book for you.