Review: Love Letters to the Dead, by Ava Dellaira
Love Letters to the Dead, by Ava Dellaira • Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux • ★★★ • Goodreads • TBDDear Love Letters to the Dead,
I love your title, not as much as your cover but it's also good. At the end of the book, I have enjoyed reading your story but you were told in a way that gave me a headache, so I didn't like you as much as I wanted to.
I knew Laurel had issues after a few chapters but it's also easy to see why she was having a hard time coping. She loved her sister so deeply, and losing May made Laurel's world shatter. She was having a whole ton of emotions to cope with, mostly unpleasant, but what I liked was that she's not alone in having problems. Even in her state of denial, she saw love in her friends -- Tristan and Kristen, Natalie and Hannah. She saw the good in her Aunt Amy. She saw what Sky could be. She believed. And I think that's why she could get better in the end, because despite of all the shit she's in, she saw good things. Plus she had great friends and even better family who were there for her, even though they had their own grief too.
The book was slow, almost painfully so, but it got better once the story progressed, especially when Laurel finally started cracking and talking to people about May. I like reading letters, even in real life, but for an entire story to be told through letters, it was a bit tedious because the story didn't flow as smoothly. I felt like I'm reading in staccatos.
Additionally, I didn't know half the people she wrote to. Kurt Cobain wasn't the only one, there were Janis Joplin, Judy Garland, E.E. Cummings... and more. My knowledge of famous people, be it literary or pop culture, is abysmal by Love Letters to the Dead standards. But it (referring to my not knowing) wasn't that intrusive on understanding the story, because Laurel tells you what happened to the person she's writing to and relates it back to her own story. So in a way, the book teaches me a little about the people I didn't know a lot or anything about.
Great story, great progression, but not that awesome way of storytelling.
We could have been so much more, Love Letters to the Dead, you gave me the heart-wrenching feels at one point, so I'm sorry it couldn't be better.