Review Blog

May 09 2014

Love letters to the dead by Ava Dellaira

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Hot Key Books, 2014. ISBN 9781471402883.
Love Letters to the dead has definite appeal to the female teenage audience. It combines tragedy, romance, friendship, family dysfunction and search for one's identity. The story is told in the first person by young Laurel, who at the beginning of the year is set the task of writing a letter to a dead person. Laurel doesn't hand up her first assignment but continues to write to a wide range of deceased people throughout the year. It is through these letters that the reader discovers Laurel's own story both past and present. An interesting aspect is the range of people she writes to. While the first letter is to Kurt Cobain she also includes Amelia Earhart, Jim Morrison, Judy Garland and many others in her correspondence. With each letter she relates aspects of her own life and emotions to those of the recipient and provides the reader with some biographical detail of these famous characters. Some start with 'hero' appeal but as Laurel's own life story evolves she explores more deeply the life/death choices they made. The focus of the plot is the death of Laurel's sister, May, which resulted in the breakup of her parent's marriage and her choice to attend a different school where she can 'start anew'. It is here that she develops new friendships and has her first boyfriend. Although, naturally these relationships, too, have their ups and downs. The circumstances surrounding May's death are shrouded in a mystery which is very slowly revealed and it is largely the desire to discover the detail that keeps the reader turning the pages. Love Letters to the Dead explores the angst of adolescence compassionately but not baulking at some of the weightier issues of modern society.
Barb Rye

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