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Review–Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

By Megan Love Literature Art & Reason @meganm922
Love Letters to the Dead
 by Ava Dellaira
 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. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to the dead—to people like Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, Amelia Earhart, and Amy Winehouse—though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating the choppy waters of new friendships, learning to live with her splintering family, falling in love for the first time, and, most important, trying to grieve for May. But how do you mourn for someone you haven't forgiven?
It's not until Laurel has written the truth about what happened to herself that she can finally 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 truly start to discover her own path.
In a voice that's as lyrical and as true as a favorite song, Ava Dellaira writes about one girl's journey through life's challenges with a haunting and often heartbreaking beauty.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy
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I enjoyed Love Letters to the Dead and I thought it was a compelling story full of nostalgia, growing up, heartbreak, and loss. It would have probably been a 4 or 5 star book for me since it was good and captivating, but the problem is that I’ve already read The Perks of Being A Wallflower.
 Love Letters to the Dead was very very very similar to The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I picked it up because I wanted something with the same feel and I expected a ton of similarities, at least in the type of book that it is. I expected a similar book in the same way that I’d say Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is like The Perks of Being a Wallflower. But Love Letters to the Dead was so similar that I started to get mad about halfway through about how similar it was.
 While the events in the novel weren’t exactly like Perks, I feel like there were just too many things that were the same. It was written in a series of letters. It featured a person who doesn’t speak up when bad things are happening, who was repressing something that happened, and (this might be a spoiler) the said event was basically the same exact thing in a different way. There was a group of quirky but amazing friends. One of those friends was gay, yet was forced to grin and bear it while the other person pretended to be straight in order to not alarm their family. One of the characters was being beat by a guy she loved and not telling anyone about it. The main character fell in love, but kind of messed it up by not being open or expressing feelings. There was family bonding over sports occasionally. What started as an English assignment ended up contributing to the main character’s growth. The English teacher seemed to want to help and inspire the main character. There was a lot of riding in cars, going to parties, experiencing deep moments, noticing things about relationships, and connecting with music of the past. While the structure was a bit different and the situations weren’t exact copies, it bothered me that so many of the issues were the same exact ones in Perks. I could have dealt with the letters, the English assignment, and the friends, but I needed the issues with the character and the friends to have been much different.

Love Letters to the Dead had the opportunity to be a novel that had the same tone and spirit that we all love about The Perks of Being A Wallflower, but I think the author went too far with capturing the similarities and crossed the line. It was predictable as a result because I had already seen characters hide the same issues and seen the main character notice them. If the book would have just been a little more different and had some different issues, it wouldn’t have been so frustrating.
If you’ve never read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, then Love Letters to the Dead is an amazing book. I do recommend it, but I would also recommend reading Perks and just skipping this one altogether. Or at least know that it’s almost exactly the same if you do pick it up. It’s not LIKE Perks, it’s basically Perks in the present day and not the 90s with a girl instead of a boy narrating. Or read this book if you aren’t into the 90s, but into sappy and introspective characters. I can’t give the book a bad rating since it was, in all fairness, a great story. I liked it and would have enjoyed it a lot more had I not experienced such a similar story and had that similar story not been one of my favorite books. It’s just hard to ignore the similarities and let them go.

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