Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Like a lot of people, I was really excited about this book. The premise is that Laurel is in high school and she get assigned the writing of a letter to a dead person for her English class. What she ends up doing is writing a lot more than one letters (too much, perhaps? I’ll get back to that later) and never handing them to the teacher. She starts writing to all those famous dead persons, like Kurt Cobain, Amy Whinehouse, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin… but about 5% of the letters are about them. The rest is more like a personal diary.
Let me tell you this: I HATE PASSIVE AND INNOCENT PROTAGONISTS. Ok I get it, her sister died and she’s still grieving, but you just don’t know how or why because she can’t get the words out. But like, it’s one thing not to be able to formulate something out loud for people to hear, but not being able to do that with your own self? Ok maybe even then, but to read a book about someone struggling to finds the words while words are the only things that matter in a book.. get it? I don’t feel like being harsh with this book because it wasn’t that bad and I actually cried at the end. But man, was it boring.
I feel like the number of letters could have been cut by half. It dragged and dragged with Laurel always talking about the same things: her friends, her friends kissing, her watching them, her friends saying this or doing that, her tagging along, her not reacting, her not knowing stuff, that boy she likes, her memories of her sister. It could have been a great book but it just felt like a waste of time. Too many letters leading to nothing. At first I thought I wasn’t enjoying it because I was too old to connect with the main character, a girl 8 years my junior. But then I realized that a lot of my favorite books are YA and have 16 years old protagonists. No, she was just annoyingly avoiding the main subject of this book for 300 pages. The whole point of it is revealed in the end. Some books get that just right. Perks of being a wallflower, for example. You don’t really know what it is about Charlie, why he’s so .. weird? unique? special? You just know that you want him to get better, you just want him to feel better. The story is really similar in a lot of ways, but I LOVED perks while I barely liked this one.
Don’t get me wrong, Laurel had some issues to deal with that you learn only near the end of the book, so you can kind of feel sympathy for her and I totally understand (must I remind you, I cried) but it didn’t change the fact that the whole story felt way too long. It just didn’t work out for me. I would have given it 2 stars but since the ending touched me I bumped it up to 3.
One thing I liked about it was the poetic writing style. Laurel is a really observative and almost philosophical person, so she can come up with beautiful quotes and observations about what surrounds her. Though I must admit, it didn’t feel like a teenager talking, more like the author trying to put some nice words into teenagers’ mouths. But it was still enjoyable to read.