Review: Love Letters to the Dead by Amy Dellaira

Title: Love Letters to the Dead
Author: Amy Dellaira
Rating: ★★ (2/5 Stars)
Hardcover, 327 Pages
Published April 2014
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Summary: 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.

I'm deeply disappointed that I had to give this book two stars, since I've been waiting to read this book since its publication in April and was sad to find out that Love Letters to the Dead was not all that I expected it to be. With the amount of hype this book conjured up, I was, like I said, really excited. At first. Now I'm left sitting staring at the book and saying to myself, "That's it?"

I feel like Laurel's narration was the biggest problem for me. She's supposed to be in high school, correct? I feel like at some points she was narrating as if she was five years old (and this is during present-day scenes, not the flashback scenes) and then other times she got so deep and philosophical that it was hard to believe she was only in high school.

And it happened so randomly, too. It wasn't just one chapter of Laurel seeming immature and the next Laurel seeming deep and profound. In the middle of a sentence about trading juice boxes and Nutter Butters or lettuce-and-mayo-on-a-kaiser-roll sandwiches, a deep, philosophical comment would slip out. Huh?

I just felt like Laurel wasn't developed the right way, in my opinion. It was hard to get into her head because her mentality seemed to shift from five-year-old to twenty-five-year-old in the blink of an eye.

Anyway, back to what the story was about. As the summary explains, Love Letters to the Dead is a story by Amy Dellaira about a high school freshman named Laurel who's mourning the loss of her sister May (and it hasn't been determined if it was suicide or an accident), the divorce of her parents and her mother running away to California to avoid her problems, her Aunt Amy and her sad longing for a Jesus Man...and also a coming-of-age high school story. All told in letters to famous dead people such as Kurt Cobain, Heath Ledger, Judy Garland, Amelia Earhart, etc. 

At first, I wasn't sure how I felt about reading a book told entirely in letters. However, as the story went on, I found that it wasn't that hard to follow, because it just seemed like an average first-person narration to me. Except for the fact that, like I said a million times already, the mentality thing bothered me a lot.

However, this book wasn't all bad, because I decided to give it two stars instead of one. The one factor in this story that I actually enjoyed reading about was watching Laurel and her family come to terms with the loss of May. Especially the way the tale of May's death unfolded - Dellaira didn't just come out and say it right way. Piece by piece we got a background on May until the inevitable night was explained - and it broke my heart. I couldn't fathom losing my sister (as annoying as she may be sometimes), and watching Laurel lose may was devastating but I felt that it was executed excellently. It was the one part of the book that didn't irritate me totally.

All in all, Love Letters to the Dead was an okay read. I was expecting a lot more and was thoroughly disappointed that I did not get it. I thought that all of the positive hype about this book would lead me to love it just as much as everyone else did, and I'm sad to say that didn't happen. However, I'm still eager to read more of Amy Dellaira's work and to see what other stories she could come up with! 

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