Love Letters to the Dead is a refreshing story that explores the concept of death through a very different lens. Not only does it shed light on the psychological impact of suicide, it also sheds light into the reasons behind it. Laurel’s sister, May, has been dead for almost 5 years, yet Laurel has difficulty coming to terms with it. The aftermath of May’s death presses in around her, the warmth and love within her family had vanished along with May’s passing too. In the midst of her grief, Laurel has so many questions unanswered – why did May choose to go, and could she ever forgive May, or herself for May’s death? The letters started as an assignment in English class to a live person. Yet, she soon finds that she finds respite in writing letters to influential people who have passed on – people such as Amelia Earhart, Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain, May’s favourite singer.
Dellaira delivers a brilliantly written form of literature that touches the heart in the most intimate ways in her debut novel. It gave a voice to a character trying to navigate her way out of death, which made it all the more successful. It is a beautiful combination of letter and diary writing that adds on a unique poetic and personal touch to it. I chanced upon this book at the bookstore and it definitely caught my attention at first sight. While we have written letters to our friends before, it struck me that none of us would have expected to write a letter to the dead before. Yet, it is heartwarming that Love Letters to the Dead shows how these letters can hold so much hope in the face of death.
Personally, this book made me question myself about the meaning of living. I believe that as human beings, we are always just a precarious step away from death. It only takes one moment of losing our purpose in life for us to leap off the edge and leave our family in the shadow of our grief. However, Love Letters to the Dead reminded me of the art of being courageous. It also made me realise that sometimes we need to find our own way back from the lost, just like how Laurel writes letters in the hope that she will be able to find answers, and a way to live again after a loved one’s death. Through the unanswered questions which she found answers to towards the end, readers will definitely be sucked into her story as it is told.
Gayle Forman, author of the bestselling novel, If I Stay, commented in a review, “Dear Ava Dellaira: Your book broke my heart and pieced it back together.” It is definitely an amazing book of realisation. Therefore, I highly recommend you to borrow this novel and start opening those letters!