Laurels story begins with an assignment for her English class — write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain, because her sister, May, loved Kurt Cobain. And because they both have something in common — the both died young. Laurel writes a lot of those letter. Soon, she’s got a notebook full of them. She writes to people like Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, Janis Joplin, River Phoenix and more.
She writes everything down, that’s going on in her life and especially, what’s going on in her soul and mind. She writes about starting high school, finding new friends, falling in love for the first time. And she writes about her life with May, the good times, and the bad, about how much she suffers during those bad times, how much she misses her, and she writes about how special and perfect May was. How she wants to be just like her, till she finds herself and sees her sister as the person she really was.
“But when you realize that the wolf is inside you, that’s when you know. You can’t run from it. And no one who loves you can kill the wolf, because it’s part of you. They see your face on it. And they won’t fire the shot.“ (S. 227)
The letters are Laurels way to process the death of her sister, while her father retreats into silence and her mother moves to California to work on a ranch. The book is a mixture of sadness, of guilt and anger and full of dark topics, teenagers out of control, sometimes it was a little too much — sex, drugs, driving without a licence, typical high school cliches, finding new friends, finding the first love, losing the first love, death, mental illness — a lot of things stuffed in a little book like this. That was really overwhelming sometimes.
Laurel did so many stupid things throughout the story, but that didn’t stop me from being completely involved until the very end. I felt with her and I fought with her. I loved it how Ava Dellaira involved the backgrounds, lives and deaths, of the people Laurel writes to.
What made it special, was the beautiful, thoughtful, lyrical writing, the many wonderful quotes, the flashbacks to really good movies and songs and the process Laurel undertakes while writing these letters. It is a weird, sad, tear-inducing, hard-hitting story. A story which tells us that we have to talk to someone or write down what we feel, what we suffer from, before it is too late, before it destroys us. It tells us, how important it is, to tell our stories, to find our own voice, to live our lives.
Author: Ava Dellaira grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Worksop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. Ava received her undergraduate degree form the University of Chicago and Love Letters to the Dead ist her debut.
Ava Dellaira grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Worksop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. Ava received her undergraduate degree form the University of Chicago and Love Letters to the Dead ist her debut.