Love Letters to the Dead

by Ava Dellaira

When an English assignment at her new school requires Laurel to write a letter to... read more

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)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2015

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