Monday, March 14, 2016

REVIEW: Love Letters to the Dead

Love Letters to the Dead
Author: Ava Dellaira
Young Adult Fiction
327 pages

After the death of her older sister, Laurel changes schools. Her entire life has been turned upside down by death, divorce, estrangement from one parent, having to make new friends and figure out life all over again. A simple school assignment: Write a letter to a dead person as if the letter could actually reach them. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain. She writes the letter, but she never turns in the assignment. She keeps writing. Judy Garland. Janis Joplin. E.E. Cummings, River Phoenix. Amelia Earhart. Out pours the emotions of growing up, learning about love and sex, the pain of divorce, and the feelings of loss. She talks about her sister May and what actually happened the night she died.

This book was amazing. It brought back memories of my teenage years. The first time I snuck out of the house. The first time I drank alcohol. The need to figure out life....and myself. The emotions that Laurel was pouring out onto the page to her dead heroes were so real, and so painful. Her school assignment became her therapy.

Be ready for the range of feelings this book will bring, but it's a roller coaster ride that can't be missed. It truly shows the range of emotions we all go through when we grieve for a dead loved one, or when our lives fundamentally change and there's no returning to the way things used to be.

Have you ever wished you could have reached out to a tragically dead celebrity? I know I have. This book also reminded me of all the times I have wished that I could have told Janis Joplin to lay off the drugs and that she was very talented and an awesome person, no matter what asshats told her early in life. I have always been haunted by a recorded interview she gave before she died about going back to her hometown after becoming famous and what it was going to be like to see all the people that made her miserable as an awkward teenager. They called her a pig and threw pennies at her in school. She came back in August 1970 dressed in purple, wearing oversize sunglasses and bright orange nail polish. She came as herself...and they still gawked at her and made catty remarks behind her back. Then she was dead....never making peace with her past. Never letting it go. Some people just aren't meant to fit in. She was meant to break molds and sing her soul. That's not an easy road to travel. I'm so sorry she died alone, naked, on a hotel floor, never knowing that THEY were wrong. That she was ok as she was. It isn't necessary to be like everyone else. But, it isn't easy to be The Different One. I wish I could have told her. Could have been her friend. Could have showed her that asshats are just asshats...not important. Be the one in purple. Wear the feathers. Sing your Soul. Be. Don't destruct. Don't use heroin to escape the demons. Push the demons out.  But, I was only 2 when Janis died alone on the floor of her hotel room. And, I thought about that the entire time I read this book. If I could write a letter to Janis, I would say all of that to her, what my heart and soul have always screamed every time I hear her sing, or hear an old interview. She was going back to her old high school to "shove it up their asses,'' but the victory was bittersweet. She wanted acceptance, and they had none to give. Ever since I heard her story as a teenager, I've wanted to say all that to her. This book brought all those feelings back, and the memories of my sadness when I heard of others: Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, River Phoenix, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Chris Farley. I watch them perform as ghosts, wishing there was something that could have been done to save them. But they wouldn't have taken my warning. Perhaps their destiny was set. They had to run their course and like so many talented, beautiful people, fizzle out early. No old age years. No retirement. Just...gone. We all have flaws, even the beautiful people. And our fates are the sum of our choices.

Laurel learns this about her sister.

Beautiful book. Excellent first book. I wonder what Ava Dellaira will write next?? I will definitely be one of the first in line to read it!!

My rating: 9/10
Ages: 16+, some sexual, drug and alcohol themes but not graphic

No comments:

Post a Comment