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4.2 out of 5 stars48
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 6 December 2014
I went into this knowing very little about it: a girl writes letters to dead people because her sister died. Because of this, the whole book consists of the letters that she writes. I must admit, I wasn’t quite sure about this format at first, but I really grew to appreciate it. As you go through the book, Laurel opens up more in her letters, and you discover more about what she’s been through. As I was reading, I was asking ‘how is this girl still together after everything?’ and it just kept on getting worse. Eventually, I got to the point where it clicked, both for me and for Laurel – she wasn’t ok at all.

On the back of my copy of the book, the main themes are outlined, to try and draw in readers. For this book, they’re letters, grief, first love, and coming of age, and I think that they were all written very realistically. I loved that Laurel wasn’t a perfect character, and this wasn’t your standard story of a poor, tortured heroine fighting through their pain and learning to live again – I enjoy those stories, but I liked that this wasn’t one of them. This was the story of a flawed girl coming to terms with herself, realising who she is and who she wants to be, and perhaps also recognising that unfortunately, no matter how much she’s suffered, the world does not revolve around her.
I think that this book also had a theme of perfection. Laurel dwells on those lines of the poem about beauty and truth, and talks to Tristan about our imperfections. I loved the wolf metaphor, and the eventual realisation that no-one can be perfect. We can’t see our own flaws that well, and our loved ones won’t get rid of them for us, because they’re a part of who we are, the person they love.

Overall, this book did what I think it set out to do, which is the most important thing. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and I’m really excited to read whatever Ava Dellaira writes next.
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on 15 October 2014
This book was beautiful, bringing me to close to tears often. It revolves around a girl called Laurel as she learns to deal not only with the death of her beloved sister May but all the other problems that evolve from/around it.

At the start she was very much lost in the way that she didn’t know herself and who she wanted to be because it tied so much to who she was with her sister. It takes a lot for her to come to grips with this and she does go through various stages but the end was beautifully done, and even though her story hasn’t ended and I think the lessons she teaches in this book will last long after the last page, it was a satisfactory ending.

The book definitely deals with a lot issues like abuse, grief, divorce etc so it was often very deep but not in a way that I became too overwhelmed. We read books to lose ourselves in the story, even when it’s tragic which this book definitely was. I will however try to warn you, that while people who have gone through these sorts of things may be able to relate and I hope it would help them to see how other people deal with it; on the whole it was quite negative. There were highs but many more lows than some people are comfortable with.

There was of course a romance that was also beautifully done simply because it was believable. There were a couple times I’ll admit where I got mad at the love interest Sky for making the wrong decisions, but I understood where he was coming from when he made them based off how he had to deal with everything thrown at him and I think this is the important thing.

I also just want to touch on the idea of the letters. It was completely original concept to me because I haven’t heard or read anything like it before, and I loved the way it worked to tell the story. It meant you could learn a lot more about Laurel as well as the celebrities she wrote to who I recognised but didn’t know like she did. Dellaira had a very poetic writing style which came across well and just like the letters fit the book’s story perfectly.

In the end I would definitely recommend this book to people who like a more serious and profound ya read, so long as you’re prepared for sad feelings that come with it.

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on 8 May 2015
*Spoiler Alert*
Ok so I actually found the letter format refreshing in a weird way? I think changing things like this are important every now and again, not just to stand out but to show evolution in language and literature and to remind us of how powerful and important letters can be.

I was kind of surprised to hear that Chbosky was the mentor, purely because I didn't know he mentored anybody. His influence throughout the book was very prominent and I still can't decide if I liked that. Of course I loved Perks, a coming of age story with a main character just starting at high school who you can relate to who happens to have lost someone close and been through sexual abuse in the past as well as the undertones of LGBTQA+ problems. I seem to have just described two completely separate books in one description, 10 points for guessing which ones.

I liked Laurel and the connections she made between her situations and various famous dead people. I particularly liked the way the highly anticipated letter to May (in my experience anyway) was saved until the epilogue although I was a bit disappointed Laurel didn't take the chance to confess to her sister that she had been let down. Literally who leaves their little sibling with a 20 something stranger they've never met before?

I disliked the way Laurel sounded like a little kid and I had to keep reminding myself that she was actually fifteen which kept leading to me wondering what kind of disgusting desperate 24 yr old college boy wants to mess around with a 15 year old? And there's at least 3 incidents of this in this book,

I really disliked the way Laurel seemed to be taught only to worship all these dead musicians with the theme that the only good music is in that genre and by those people but I suppose if Laurel liked musicians by loving people she'd have nobody to write to about it.

For me the biggest surprise was when Aunt Amy ditched the Jesus man. Reading about her investing herself in him, romantically and financially and everything it made me feel beyond relieved when she finally stopped seeing him. It's a bit of a shame with so many themes and so much negativity and so much potential that this was the biggest surprise for me but there you have it.

Even as I write this review I'm thinking about new things and learning new things in this book. Definitely one I would have to reread and who knows? It might taste better the second time around like a lot of others (The Fault In Our Stars) or it might taste worse the second time around (Paper Towns).
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on 9 July 2014
We go through life constantly wondering why other people's lives are so much better. This person has a better job, that one looks better and that girl has way more money. There is constant envy and sometimes we need to be reminded that envy can be very misplaced.

That's what a book like Love Letters To The Dead can do. Its story shows that we might think everyone else is perfect, but every single person has issues and problems he or she has to deal with. Unfortunately, I ended up wishing that an other author had grabbed the opportunity to write about this very important topic.

Laurel, the main character of Love Letters To The Dead, gets a simple English assignment on her first day in high school: Write a letter to a deceased person. But instead of writing a generic assignment, Laurel discovers that writing letters to famous dead people is the best form of therapy for her. Her letters become a diary, sharing experiences in her life that somehow remind her of the deceased person. She writers about her dead sister, May, and the guilt she feels revolving her death. She writes about Sky, the cute guy in school, and about her mother, who moved to California after the death of May.

The letters start off pretty basic - like reading the diary of an average 16 year old. However, as the school year gets more difficult, the letters show more and more of the problems Laurel is experiencing. What exactly happened to her sister the night she died? Why did her mother leave? Will she ever be able to open up to Sky?

Because every chapter is a letter, there is a very nice and original pacing to the story. When Laurel writes to Kurt Cobain she discloses different things then when she writes to Amelia Earhart. Each person inspires her to open up about certain subjects and that's what makes this book a good read. Laurel starts off as your typical teenage girl, but letter by letter it is disclosed that she has experienced a lot more than a normal teenage girl has. Added to that, everything is not just in her narrative, but "written by her" - there is some amazing insight into her personality. She, along with the reader, finds out that things are often not what they seem and most importantly, that people are not what they seem.

Besides the accurate representation of Laurel, the other characters in the book are also diverse and work in the theme that "everyone has issues". Laurel's sister May turns out to have had some rough experiences and boyfriend Sky has some family issues. All these problems are again exposed throughout the book in a very subtle, but useful way.

However, besides all of that, I still struggled with the basic writing style of this book. I understand that Laurel is writing the letters and that she's a teenager, so she can't be too sophisticated, but she's a really intelligent teenager. One who is obsessed with poetry. Why are her letters so bland and boringly written? It's all straight to the point and it just didn't captivate me. Reading this book is kind of like watching Dr. Phil on repeat all day - it's drama (good drama in this case though), but presented in such a bland way. I want to read more from Ava Dellaira to find out if this writing style was a creative decision or if this is just the writing style she always uses.

For example, the most liked quote of this book on Goodreads (121 likes and spoiler-free!):
"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."
The messages in this quote? Great and again emphasises the theme, but come on. This looks like a quote someone threw on pinterest, not one in an amazing book. It's cliché and overdone and bland.

Love Letters To The Dead has all the potential in the world to be one of the best YA books out there - the summer hit of 2014. However, the boring writing style just didn't do it for me. Whether it was a decision to make Laurel's writing basic or whether it is the style of the author, I'll probably never know. But I kinda wish someone else ran with this idea and did it justice.
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This is a book I've been looking forward to for a while. I love the cover and the idea of writing letters to dead celebrities, reviews have been pretty positive and it's also been optioned for film. What could go wrong? Well, nothing as such, but for me Love Letters to the Dead just didn't live up to its hype.

The premise is an usual one, with fourteen-year-old Laurel writing letters to dead famous people, like River Phoenix, Heath Ledger and Amy Winehouse. She tells them about her life, her older sister May's death, and how she's coping. It all starts as a class assignment, but Laurel continues it for a year, kind of like her own personal therapy. At first I liked this unusual way of telling a story, but by the end I'd had enough and was struggling to understand the point of Laurel writing to all these dead people. It did help her though, so whatever she got from it obviously worked.

One of my main problems with this book was Laurel being so young. She writes and talks as if she's older, she acts older and partakes in activities that I just can't see a fourteen-year-old doing. Maybe it's just me getting old (ha!) but this bothered me all the way through the book. Making her sixteen would have made such a huge difference in her characterisation and why she was doing what she was doing, but at fourteen it just seemed too unrealistic to me. Aside from that I liked her enough, though she's not one who made a huge impression on me.

Love Letters to the Dead deals with a lot of emotions, including grief, love and loss. It tries to do a lot all at once - maybe too much - and for me it fell a little flat. Unfortunately I didn't strongly connect with any of the characters, though I did enjoy Dellaira's lyrical writing. There are some beautiful passages in this book, some that I've since gone back and read again, and I can see why people are excited about this new author.

Overall, Love Letters to the Dead didn't capture me like I hoped it would, though I'm glad I read it and discovered the writing talents of Ava Dellaira. Recently I seem to have found solace in fictional books about grief and loss - they're reminding me that I'm not alone and that other people have, and will, go through the same things as me. Love Letters to the Dead helped me in that way but it's a shame I didn't like it more than I did. Don't let this review put you off, though - meet Laurel and find out for yourself whether this is the book for you.
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on 13 July 2014
Love Letters to the Dead was a moving read, full of melancholy and at its heart, hope.

It began as an assignment for English class - write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because he died young, like her sister May. Laurel begins pouring her heart out to him and soon she isn’t just writing to him, she’s writing to dozens of other dead people.

Laurel communicates with us solely through these letters. There are no chapter or scene breaks, just letters. It is brilliantly written and though she is essentially ‘telling’ us her story, she is showing us so much more. Laurel’s pain leaps off the page. It is pretty clear fairly early on that she is harbouring some deep secret, getting clearer as the book continues.

There is so much for Laurel to deal with - starting high school, first love, growing up, dealing with the loss of her sister.

With a title like Love Letters to the Dead, it’s obvious this isn’t going to be a feel good book. But it’s still an amazing read. The words come alive in front of you as you fall down Laurel’s rabbit hole. This book is something in the vein of 13 Reasons Why and Lovely, Dark and Deep.
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As soon as I heard about Love Letters to the Dead, I knew that it was a book that I really wanted to read. I was certain that I was going to love it. Fortunately I am here to tell you that I did! This book took a strong hold of me and simply refused to leave me alone. But I am grateful for that as this was a powerful story that I just truly loved and adored and would happily read again and again! All I can hope now is that this review will do this magnificent book justice!

Grief is hard. It is something that comes in many forms and everyone deals with it in their own way. When Laurel’s sister dies, she struggles to talk about what happened. No longer able to face her old friends, or anyone that knew May, she decides to go to a different high school from them all. As she starts to make new friends and adventures, she also starts to grow as a person, learning how best to deal with the grief that still plagues her. The plotline to this story was amazing. Every detail was thought out, all emotions felt real, and all characters had their own individual journeys. It was compelling, intense and highly emotional. It was hard not to just love where this book took you.

Laurel is a truly complex character with a lot of things bumbling about in her head. She is also relatable which made this story so much more enjoyable for me. This book has been mentioned as being similar to The Perks of Being a Wallflower but what makes this book better is Laurel. She is a wonderful character that I understood and whose thoughts really explained everything perfectly. Hannah and Natalie are both fantastic characters as well who feel so realistic and amazing. I loved both of them equally for different reasons – I just want to be their friends! Skye is also worth mentioning. I think he has a really interesting part in the story but he’s also really kind, sweet, and just protective. Not to mention he also has issues but they just make him seem more human in the long run!

The writing style of this book was brilliant! The story, as hinted in the title, was set up between letters to different dead people and it just really worked. All that happened was connected in different ways to the person she wrote to and it just made that story really powerful and easy to read. This style also made it more emotional and sensational as you were really getting all of her thoughts and feelings, she wasn’t just telling anybody. I definitely really liked that about this story but I also believe a lot of what I liked about it came from the author’s voice as well and so I know that I will be keeping an eye out for more from her. I’ll especially be looking to see if they blow me away like this one did!

All in all, this was a book that I simply fell in love with. It was compelling and magical, dark and deep, exploring so many issues in sensitive ways. I adored the writing style, fell for all the characters, and simply did not want the book to end! It was a marvellous book that I will be really recommending from now on as it just had a brilliant impact on me. The whole book made me feel a whole pile of emotions and it has just really touched me. If you’re looking for a book that will keep you entertained and take you on a true journey, then you need to make sure that you have this book in your life. Utterly amazing!
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on 23 July 2014
I've been very much looking forward to reading this book since I'd noticed it on a blogger newsletter from Hot Key Books. The cover is, clearly, gorgeous and the blurb sounded right up my street with huge nods to books like Perks of Being A Wallflower. Stephen Chbosky is even quoted on the cover and there isn't much higher praise than that.

Laurel is a young girl that is finding her way into her teenage years without her older sister, May. May died and left behind a broken family and an adoring younger sibling that misses her terribly. The first assignment set at high school for Laurel is to write a letter to a dead person. She avoids the obvious choice of her sister and writes instead, to the famous that died young or mysterious. The book is a collection of letters to likes of Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse and Amelia Earheart as she travels along high school; making friends, finding and losing love and coming to terms with life without May and how she died.

A rather superb book that is very clearly influenced by Perks of Being A Wallflower in a way that is noticeable but isn't irritating or a direct updated copy. The format of letter-writing for the plot is rather clever and takes the pressure off the reader as being the sole-bearer of all Laurel's woes. It's a near-perfect book on the issues around grief to my mind. It has shades of darkness and tragedy but it holds hope within the pages and letters to the lost that makes your heart lift.

I'd definitely pass this along to fans of Perks as a follow-on read but, as a warning; this book isn't Perks of Being A Wallflower. Quite frankly, nothing can top that book for its impact of story and beauty but it's close enough that you'll be left feeling the same kind of broken-hearted joy as you turn the final page.

Well worth a look.
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on 17 June 2014
I have found this book really tricky to review. I really wanted to read and review this book and asked for it to be sent from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

The cover of this book really drew me into it and I had heard so much about it. From reading the blurb it sounded really interesting, I loved the idea of reading a series of letters and enjoy that writing style. However I felt that for me Love Letters to the Dead, did not live up to my expectations.

The Story starts with Laurel being asked to write a letter to a dead person, this sparks her off on writing lots of letters to dead people. Laurel has been through a trauma with her sister May dying and uses the letters as self help.

Unfortunately for me I felt the letters were not written as well as they could have been and ended up being presented in more of a diary style of writing, rather than letters. At times I found it difficult to understand why she was writing to different dead people and took a while for me to make the connection. I feel that in a way it would have been better to have stuck to only one dead person to have written to, instead of many.

At times I was a little unsure of how old Laurel was meant to be, at times, things that were written seemed for a character a lot older such as 16, however there were other occasions when I felt her voice was of one of those from someone a lot younger, which would also link in with her age of 14.

I felt that Laurel to me was not a likable character and I had to force myself to actually take an interest in her, the book itself is relatively short, however at times I felt that it was being dragged out.

There are many emotions present in this book, all of which I feel are dealt with very well. I did find the book a rather depressing one, which I was a little disappointed with. What did make me want to continue the story was the 'secret' that Laurel was also bottling up, I wanted to get to the bottom of it.

There are some wonderful lines in the book and the description at times really draws you in. These are two of my favourite. I loved this description of when Laurel is with Sky.

'It was then I could feel that moths in him, with their wings so paper - thin, will never be near enough to the light. They will always want to be nearer - to be inside of it.'

And when Laurel is remembering times with May:

'I saw her fairly wings come out. I saw them trying to flutter to keep her up. To take her back. But I'd broken them. I saw the wings like tissue paper break off and float into the sky as she fell.'

Overall I did enjoy the story and think that there are some beautiful passages in it. However it didn't capture me in the way I had hoped. I did think it was depressing at times, not all the letters Laurel writes are sad but the emotions take you on a roller coaster of a ride. I can see why people are getting excited about this debut author as she can definitely write well. This is a thought provoking read, that may help you deal with grief, love and friendship.

I would recommend others to read this, and I thank the publisher for sending me this in exchange for an honest review.
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on 1 February 2015
Love Letters to the Dead was a bit of a surprise for me. I had a vague inkling of what the book was about - not really having read the blurb beforehand - but the events revealed within Laurel's letters was something I wasn't actually prepared for and it did shock me a bit.

Laurel's writing letters to dead celebrities as part of an assignment for English, but she doesn't feel ready to share those letters with anyone, never mind her teacher. She chooses people that she can relate things to through the letter - a singer whose song had played that day, or someone she admires for their bravery.

I loved how real this book felt. The relationships between Laurel and her new friends was strained and full of secrets, blossoming occasionally before being pulled away because of something being revealed (or not). My heart went out to her when things went south with Sky because she couldn't open up to him. The fact that her mother had run off to California seemed a bit selfish and cruel, but understandable in a way, given the circumstances.

There's definitely some shocking revelations throughout the book, not only about Laurel but about some of her friends too. It's gripping and the diary-like entries make for a different reading experience than the norm.

I highly recommend this to fans of YA.
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