Love Letters to the Dead
Published April 1st 2014 By Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Summary: It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person.
Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher.
She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her.
Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.
Love Letters to the Dead is a great and poignant coming of age book.
I picked this up after hearing that Emma Watson loved it and later heard it being compared to Perks of being a Wallflower which is one of my favourite books to which I’d have to agree.
Love Letters isn’t a novel idea; it has been done before and similarly to Perks, it discussed many of the same topics. The author did Love Letters in such a way that allowed you to understand not just the celebrities and how they came to be, but also how they’ve affected Laurel’s life.
Love Letters, that started out as an English Assignment became a coping mechanism for Laurel. It became an outlet for her to share her intimate feelings about what’s happening to her and how the celebrities she’s writing to helped her cope through their music or their movies.
I really loved how the celebrities and Laurel’s life in a way became intertwined. It was interesting to see how these celebrities played an important part in her life be it finding love or making friends. Apart from Laurel, the minor characters were also great characters. There’s a lot of character growth in each of these characters and not just Laurel.
If I had to pick one thing I wasn’t to keen about was certainly the love interest, it did feel a little forced and I couldn’t really connect to Sky.
Love Letters was very well executed and it was beyond my expectations — I was worried that the similarities to Perks would make it difficult for me to appreciate but it definitely had its own merits and stood well on its own.
Highly recommeded for fans of Perks or anyone who likes good contemporary.