for Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
When an English assignment at her new school requires Laurel to write a letter to a dead person, it’s a prompt that speaks deeply to her. She chooses Kurt Cobain, because her older sister, May, was a fan. Then she continues to write to a series of dead people, mostly celebrities. She reflects on their lives and deaths as a means to consider her own life, and May’s. The way May died was traumatic, and left Laurel guilt-ridden. But as Laurel delves deeper into the past she gradually begins to come to term with May’s life as well as her death, and what happened to Laurel herself as a result of choices May made. The letters also reveal Laurel’s developing friendships with Hannah and Natalie, and her relationship with Sky, all teens dealing with difficult things in their lives. There’s no shortage of pain in Ava Dellaira’s debut novel, but there’s also no shortage of hope, in the connection and support the teens find in one another, and in the catharsis that comes with confronting hard truths. The writing is also beautiful, and Laurel’s emerging interest in poetry reflects the power of words that is as much a theme of this story as all the hardship. (Age 14 and older)
CCBC Choices 2015. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2015. Used with permission.
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.
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.