Review by Hadley, teen reviewer
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Laurel switches schools after an unfortunate accident leaves her mother across the country and her sister May buried in the ground and the past. She believes that the best way to move on is to start over in a place where no one knows anything about her. So, as she makes the transition from middle school to high school, from Sandia to West Mesa, she moves on from her old life. Or tries to, anyway.
As anyone who has ever moved schools can attest, it is hard starting out. She begins sitting alone during lunch in the quad, watching everyone else talk in groups as she struggles to catch up on the school’s trends. Then, she receives her first English assignment: write a letter to a dead person. It could be to a once-famous celebrity, an ancient philosopher, anyone, and it could be about anything. She writes her first letter to Kurt Cobain, member of the band Nirvana, and finds out that the assignment is just what she needed to survive her new life. She takes the assignment further, and starts writing letters to numerable celebrities, including Janis Joplin, River Phoenix, and Amelia Earhart. In her works, she details the various occurrences in her everyday life, and eventually, her past and the accident. She begins as an outcast, just trying to find someone to talk to. She finds a friend in a fellow English classmate, Natalie, who introduces her to numerable other people, and together, they find themselves diving into many adult situations. Since Laurel started at the school, she has kept her eye on a mysterious boy who always finds himself on the edge of her social perimeter. Finally, after she is informed that he is another transfer student named Sky—a junior—they meet, and a friendship blossoms from there.
Through Laurel’s letters, her thoughts and days come to life in a beautifully innovative format for writing. This book honestly took a while for me to become emotionally invested in. The reason for that is because the style of writing is so different, and I was unsure of it—but that’s what makes it great. No other book I have heard of or read consists solely of letters in the place of chapters. It makes this book unique, and adds to the general character of the story. Alongside that, the novel deals with adult situations that teens often find themselves in, making it all the more relatable. The characters are complex, with lots of hidden layers and charm that truly draw a reader in.
I think all lovers of defied stereotypes and realistic teen fiction should venture out of their comfort zone and try out this style of writing. It’s definitely worth a read. 5 stars –Hadley, teen reviewer
Find the book at our library: Love Letters to the Dead