Love Letters to the Dead: A Novel by Ava DellairaLove Letters to the Dead: A Novel by Ava Dellaira

Love Letters to the Dead: A Novel

byAva Dellaira

Paperback | September 29, 2015

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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.

About The Author

Ava Dellaira is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. She grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago. Love Letters to the Dead is her debut novel. She currently lives in Santa Monica.
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Details & Specs

Title:Love Letters to the Dead: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 8.22 × 5.53 × 0.94 inPublished:September 29, 2015Publisher:Square FishLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1250062969

ISBN - 13:9781250062963

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Customer Reviews of Love Letters to the Dead: A Novel

Reviews

Rated 1 out of 5 by from Poor Execution Which is a shame because the premise was intriguing. The characters are pretty cliche and the plot leaves much to be desired.
Date published: 2017-09-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good I found the writing too simple for my likings, but the format is very original and the story is good.
Date published: 2017-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love Letters to the Dead This is a stunningly beautiful book. I found it well-written and touching. The story unfolded with exactly the right timing and I never got impatient to find out what happened with May.
Date published: 2017-05-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worth it! The writing was sometimes painful to read but the story was beautiful and haunting.
Date published: 2017-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heart-wrenching but Beautiful I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Coping with loss is a topic that I find extremely interesting and I couldn't put this book down.
Date published: 2016-12-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Did not like The storyline hooked me in but the characters and plot development really didn't do it for me. I found that I was just annoyed most of the time especially by the main character who had the voice of a 10 year old and the insta-love with Sky when there was no real connection.
Date published: 2016-11-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Coping with Teenage Loss I read about Love Letters to the Dead in a number of places on the web and the idea of it intrigued me. I didn't know if I'd like it or not but it kept niggling away at me from the back of my mind so I finally bought it. Once I got into it, I had to keep reading to the end. Laurel's first english assignment at her new school is to write a letter to someone who's dead. She's pretty sure her teacher wants them to write to some historical figure but she has a different idea. Her sister, May, had died the previous April. She had been high and took a dive off the railway bridge where they used to play a game called "Pooh Sticks" when they were younger. Laurel admired her sister and is lost without her. She decides to write letters to twelve famous people who died too young, who, like her sister, were terribly talented, charismatic, and somewhat messed up, looking for something but they didn't know what. Laurel addresses her first letter to Kurt Cobain because he was her sister's favourite musician. She tells him all about her insecurities about starting high school and how her sister May would have known exactly what to do. She talks about her english assignment from the only teacher she knows at her new school. In her second letter, she tells him that she didn't hand the assignment in because there are some things that are too personal to share. When Laurel writes to Amy Winehouse and Judy Garland, she tells stories about her current life, how her mom left, and things she used to do with her sister. She's looking for answers about why people do things that cause them to die, and for answers about how to live her life now, without her big sister. She writes to Janis Joplin and River Phoenix as well. But it isn't until she finds the courage to write about bad things that happened to her because May hadn't really taken good care of her that she realizes her sister wasn't perfect and that she can learn from May's mistakes and create a life for herself, that her memory of May could be more balanced without diminishing her love for May. When I finished reading Love Letters to the Dead, I was still a bit unsure how I felt about it. As a Christian, I felt there should be other ways to find answers and get your head on straight again, but I also saw the cathartic nature of writing your ideas and questions down on paper, even if you're writing to someone who can't answer your questions. This is Ava Dellaira's debut novel and it was a very interesting story — one with many surprises including the ending. I'd recommend reading it before giving it to a teenager in your family — it might not be for everyone, and a certain maturity is required, I think, for someone to not get mired down in it. None-the-less, a worthwhile read.
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautifully written letters to the dead Laurel is just entering grade 9. Her beloved sister, May, has just died. She gets an assignment from her English teacher to write a letter to someone who has died. Rather than writing letters to her sister Laurel writes letters to celebrities that have died such as Kurt Cobain, Amelia Earhart and Janis Joplin. The letters help her cope with all that has happened. This is a beautifully written book and I loved the concept of the letters. The book is quite sad though and parts were hard to read. I would recommend this book for grade 9 and up.
Date published: 2015-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love letters to the dead What a amazing book. How do we get past all this pain we carry in our lives and choose to live life. And not just go with the flow. What a beautiful tribute to a sister. Just read a beautiful story.
Date published: 2015-08-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book I really hated to see this book come to an end but was most satisfied with the ending. This has much to say about the loss of a family member and the effects on everyone else in the family. Laurel can teach us all a few coping skills. I have passed my copy on to two other friends who love to read but I want it back for a reread!
Date published: 2014-09-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love Letters to the Dead This goes up there with Perks of Being a Wallflower! Such a great concept?
Date published: 2014-09-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Book What an amazing read. Would recommend this book to anyone. Laurel writes letters to dead celebrities in a therapeutic way to deal with her sister, May's tragic death. She continues to write about the struggles she faces through everyday life with friends, parents, and growing up. This book was beautifully written and I enjoyed every minute reading this book.
Date published: 2014-07-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Narration didn't quite work For a school assignment, Laurel must write a letter to someone who has passed away. She chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister May loved him and they both died too soon. Laurel finds herself writing letters to many dead celebrities, revealing everything from a new crush, new friendships to secrets like what would happen when she and May were supposed to be at the movies together. Through the letters, Laurel starts to accept what happened to her sister and maybe she can finally move on. I was really excited for this book because the concept sounded interesting. The whole book written in the style of letters to dead celebrities as a way to cope with the main character's sister's death? It sounded different and I like reading different narration styles, especially when they work well. Unfortunately, for me, there was a lot about the style that didn't end up working. The two major issues I had with the letter style narration. First, there was a lot of explaining the celebrity's life to them that just seemed strange. They lived through it, they don't need to be told they're parents divorced or they were in a movie. It was hard to lose myself in the story when all I could keep thinking was Laurel was listing off facts about their own lives to them. Second, because the whole story was in letters, a lot of the time it felt like we were getting a short recap of her day or a moment instead of something that felt a little more complete. That said, I did like how Laurel could take parts of what she knew or learned about the celebrities and apply it to her own life, and watching her slowly come to terms with what happened the night her sister died. Writing can be therapeutic and this was the first time I'd seen a character use it to such an extent. The side characters, and the depth they showed, was also really nice. I was worried about how characters other than Laurel would fare in a letter narration but Dellaira still managed to give them depth and show growth. While the narration didn't work for me, I think there'll be readers out there who will fall in love with it and with Laurel and her friends.
Date published: 2014-06-22

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Editorial Reviews

"Reminiscent of Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower, this is powerfully emotional stuff." -BCCB"Dellaira's characters are authentically conceived and beautifully drawn." -The Horn Book"Best for teens who enjoyed Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower." -School Library Journal"Laurel and her friends' struggles and hard-won successes are poignant, and seeing Laurel begin to forgive herself and May is extremely moving." -Publishers Weekly"I simply loved this book. Love Letters to the Dead is more than a stunning debut. It is the announcement of a bold new literary voice." -Stephen Chbosky, author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower"A brilliant story about the courage it takes to keep living after your world falls apart. A heart-wrenching celebration of love and friendship and family." -Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak"With beautiful observations of where life can take us, from grieving to celebrating, disappointment to wonder, LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD is a love letter to living." -Jay Asher, author of 13 Reasons Why"Dear Ava Dellaira: Your book broke my heart, and pieced it back together. As with Kurt, Janis, Amelia and the others who are gone but still somehow here, LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD leaves an indelible mark." -Gayle Forman, author of If I Stay"As wondrous--and as fearless--as a shooting star." -Lauren Myracle, author, The Winnie Years"Riveting, captivating, utterly disarming. I could not put this book down! LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD is like discovering a shoebox full of notes addressed to someone else. I read fast, afraid I'd be caught peeking at something I wasn't ever supposed to see. A voyeuristic delight!" -Siobhan Vivian, author of The List"Effective and satisfyingly heartbreaking." -Kirkus Reviews"Well paced and cleverly plotted, this debut uses a fresh, new voice to tell a sometimes sad, sometimes edgy, but always compelling narrative. Fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han, get ready."-Booklist, starred review