Love Letters so the Dead by Ava Dellaira is about a high school student named Laurel. On her first day of school, she receives an assignment to write a letter to someone that is dead and the entire book is just letters she continues to write to Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Amelia Earhart, and way more. The entire story is written through those letters.
Laurel’s sister May died right in front of Laurel, so there is definitely a tragedy there. Their parents had been split up for awhile and their mom constantly questioned Laurel about what exactly happened before “running away” to California. The entire story, you can tell there is something bigger that happened between May and Laurel, and Laurel knows why May died but refuses to talk about it. There is a lot, A LOT, of crying and a lot of juvenile naivete from Laurel as well as from her friends.
To me it felt like Laurel was desperate for someone to love her. She felt abandoned by everyone around her – her sister died, her mom fled to California because she couldn’t deal, her dad is a hollow shell because of everything that’s happened, etc. and she grasps at any attention she receives. She’s obviously dealing with a lot and not thinking clearly. There is an abundance of under-age drinking and skipping school, parties and drugs as well.
About 3/4 of the way through the book, you finally find out exactly what happened leading up to May’s death and it completely broke my heart. I was literally sitting in bed with snot and tears running down my face, my husband looking at me like I was crazy (he just doesn’t understand book-love). After that, I completely understood all of Laurel’s behavior, her lashing out, the sneaking out, the drinking, everything. If you put yourself back into a teenager’s shoes, and imagine a teenager going through everything she went through, then the book is absolutely amazing. If you go into it thinking that the topic will be dealt with on a mature level, then you shouldn’t read this book. Laurel is a TEENAGER and she deals with trauma the way only teenagers do – by rebelling. She’s trying to find herself and figure out how to keep living.
I rated Love Letters to the Dead 4/5 on Goodreads. It’s not my favorite, but I did really like it and I really related to Laurel.