Review: ‘Love Letters to the Dead’ by Ava Dellaira

Review: ‘Love Letters to the Dead’ by Ava DellairaLove Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Published by Macmillan on April 1st, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 327
Format: Hardcover
Source: bought online
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. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to the dead—to people like Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, Amelia Earhart, and Amy Winehouse—though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating the choppy waters of new friendships, learning to live with her splintering family, falling in love for the first time, and, most important, trying to grieve for May. But how do you mourn for someone you haven't forgiven?

It's not until Laurel has written the truth about what happened to herself that she can finally 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 truly start to discover her own path.

In a voice that's as lyrical and as true as a favorite song, Ava Dellaira writes about one girl's journey through life's challenges with a haunting and often heartbreaking beauty.

About Ava Dellaira

I was born in Los Angeles. One of my first memories is of looking out the window of the Cadillac that my family drove across the desert when we moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is where I grew up, and where my sister and I spent countless summer afternoons making fairy potions, battling evil witches, and playing other imaginary games that probably contributed to my proclivity to make up stories.

My first memory of writing is as a 2nd grader. I had been assigned to write a poem about the things I liked and why. I started out pretty unassumingly: “I like rainbows because they are pretty. I like kittens because they are soft.” And then I wrote, “I like my Mom—” but I couldn’t come up with the end of the sentence. I remember it vividly because it was my first awareness of that space between a feeling,
and the language that we have to name it. No words seemed big enough. I thought about all of the things that I loved about her, all of the fun stuff we did together, and
finally I settled on, “I like my Mom because she gave birth to me.” That just seemed the most basic. It was, in part, her beautiful life and sudden, untimely death (just after I
had graduated college) that inspired me to write this book.

Chapters/IndigoGood Reads


This one started as an over-hyped book and I kinda wanted to distance myself because I don’t have a good reputation with over-hyped books. But I did manage to read it after getting excited from various people. My verdict? It was all right. I liked it enough and had certain issues with it at the same time. That’s when I rate it as a three.


I loved the Dear Diary format that it being written in because I felt that would call out to most teens. What teenage girl didn’t have a diary of some sort? I love the secondary characters so much, especially the adorable romance between the two girlfriends which is a wonderful thing to read in YA. I love how great it was to see the emphasis of her family relations especially her flashbacks with her sister. The key element of the entire story. I love how the letters were compared and contrasted to what Laurel was feeling at the time. There was also so much death, despair and depression that it significantly brought my mood lower and lower. I even had a point where I wanted to DNF it because I was getting a little bored. The second half of the book really sets up the story better and I wished there was a story that keeps you moving forward. The mere mention of a Christian-like cult made me feel scared and weirded out. I know that happens in the world but it frightens me there are people who believe it’s Gods work to be good when in reality they’re not. Gated was another book that reminded me of this.


Overall, it’s a good book that I highly recommend if you’re in the mood for a light-hearted read.


reading progress



The more you love something, the harder it is to lose. (13)
I loved the feeling of being alone together in the car, like we could go anywhere we wanted. Just us. (60)
Because once you’re afraid of one thing, you can get scared of a lot of stuff. (98)
Grown ups can be such fakes. They are always acting like they are trying to help you, and like they want to take care of you, but really they just want something from you. (109)
Maybe that’s what being in love is. You just keep filling up, never getting fuller, only brighter. (128)
You know when you think you know someone? More than anyone in the world? You know you know them, because you’ve seen them, like, for real. And then you reach out, and suddenly they are just…gone. You thought you belonged together. You thought they were yours, but they’re not. You want to protect them, but you can’t. (132)
I don’t know anyone who has a perfect family to start with. And I think that’s why we make up our own. Regular weirdos together. I feel that way about my friends. (140)
I think a lot of people want to be someone, but we are scared that if we try, we won’t be as good as everyone imagines we could be. (142)
When we are in love, we are both completely in danger and completely saved. (151)
It’s a terrible excuse from someone who can’t bear to be around. It’s a bad way up make yourself feel better when you know you are leaving someone who doesn’t want you to go. (181)
We do things sometimes because we feel so much inside of us, and we don’t notice how it affects somebody else. (229)
I said no, but he wouldn’t listen. (237)
Nothing is worse than when someone who’s supposed to love you just leaves. (251)
A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself—and especially to feel, or not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at any given moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to—letting a person be what he really is. (261)
We aren’t transparent. If we want someone to know us, we have to tell them stuff. (285)
You taught them that applause was the closet thing to love. You taught them that people love you for what they want to see in you, not for what you are. (290)




1 Comment

  1. Chrystal Scales

    December 12, 2016 at 3:45 AM

    I listened to the audio version and enjoyed it. I don’t remember too much from it now, so not as memorable I guess. So I can see rating it 3.
    Chrystal Scales recently posted…Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan | Review & Blog Tour/GiveawayMy Profile

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