Today, I’m really excited to share with you guys what I’m currently reading: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira.
I was a little burnt out after a string of serious books and craving some YA fiction, so after seeing Love Letters to the Dead mentioned on Buzzfeed, I went for it!
Dellaira’s main character, Laurel, is a beautiful misfit who recently transferred to a new school after her older sister died a tragically young death. On her first day of school, Laurel is assigned an interesting project–write a letter to someone who has died; she chooses Kurt Cobain. Instead of stopping there, Laurel continues to write to more of her lost too young heroes: River Phoenix, Amelia Earhart, Judy Garland. Through the letters, she is able to open up about her life at a new school and her grief about her sister.
The reviews for the book were split: half were the instant YA “fandom” with rave reviews, and half were disappointed that Laurel wasn’t a more complex character. They complained that her young love was too sappy, that the letters were too predictable.
Personally, I love books like this for what they are. I don’t go looking for any huge meaning in young adult novels, although this one touched on some issues (sexuality, death, first love).
Each time I read about high school, I try my hardest to remember if it really was all that big of a deal. Laurel’s first love is her whole entire world. Her best friends are her life. I remember feelings things that intensely, but I truly can’t imagine it now.
One of the reasons I love coming-of-age novels is that they acknowledge the experiences of these intense feelings, and feel none of the shame that we do as adults. It’s like having a burger and a big chocolate shake, before calories were a thing.
Thank you, Ava Dellaira, for this taste of American high school love, adventure, and grief. It was absolutely delicious.