So obviously a book titled Love Letters to the Dead is going to be a pretty emotional one, but I don’t think I was quite prepared for all there is to find in here.
Through a series of letters written to dead people ranging from Kurt Cobain to Amelia Earhart to Elizabeth Bennet written over the course of a school year, Laurel explores some seriously heavy topics. Her parents divorced, her sister May died, her mom moved away, she switched schools… and that all happened before the book actually picks up. As Laurel writes these letters, working through the decomposition of her family, May’s death, and revealing snippets of the circumstances surrounding her death, she begins to heal and come through as herself rather than just a shell of May. She also experiences her first love, and I really appreciated Sky’s character for his role in Laurel’s healing process. He’s honest and caring and doesn’t try to take advantage of Laurel in her fragile state. He’s there when she needs him.
There were a few times I almost stopped reading. Too much sadness, too much belittling of the religious aunt, too much teen drinking, too much stuff. But I have to admit that I’m so glad I didn’t stop. Laurel is a very realistic teenage girl wrestling with things that most teenagers have to deal with in some way or another, and while she makes some decisions I wouldn’t want my students making, she definitely learns from her mistakes. She comes out a better person than she was going in. I admire Laurel – especially who Laurel becomes by the end of the book – for how she deals with things that have happened to her and makes a conscious choice to change the trajectory of her life.
By the time I was two-thirds done with Love Letters to the Dead, I liked it. When I finished it, I really liked it. After it had a few hours to settle and sink in, I loved it. In the vein of The Fault in Our Stars, it’s not a frilly, finish in a day and smile the whole way through kind of book, but it is a stick with you and make your heart feel full kind of a book. I have a feeling that Laurel and Sky will be with me for a while.
Love Letters to the Dead comes out this Tuesday, April 1st. Find it here on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller!