Book Review : Love Letters to the Dead

by The Dreamer

Love Letters to the Dead

by Ava Dellaira


Dear Ava Dellaira,

You are not dead, and this is not a love letter but ever since I’ve finished your novel, I’ve been dying to write my love-hate review in this format. So here goes.

Firstly, I just would like to forevermore thank you for introducing me to River Phoenix.


His name intrigued me, and May and Laurel’s obsession over him made me even more interested, and when I searched him up, I fell completely in love and am so ready to have a River Phoenix marathon. I also found it slightly ironic (maybe I’m too sensitive) that you juxtaposed May’s death in the river to her worshipping River Phoenix. So yeah, that was one thing.

Your book touched me deeply. I have been a huge fan of books that deal with grief, the loss of someone – as you can tell from my love for See You at Harry’s, Twenty Boy Summer and The Sky is Everywhere.  So of course I was beyond excited to read this book. I loved Laurel’s over-excessive use of metaphors (even if other readers thought of it as cheesy) and I loved May’s dysfunction. I loved how you deftly addressed homosexual relationships and child abuse and depression.

I especially loved your characters. Tristen and Kirsten, the seniors that adopted the innocent freshmen and cared for Laurel were my favourite. I loved how Kirsten was described as fairy-like and soft, smoked pot, yet at the same time knew the importance of a good education. And Tristen, a huge contrast to Kirsten because of his roughness, was really intriguing as well.  Of course, I loved Sky.

The plot was meh, but I was drawn in by the beautiful language and emotions spilled all over the page. I just really adored the characters even more because they were not perfect and everyone was damaged in a way. I liked how you crafted May and Aunt Amy and Sky to sound perfect at first, then slowly revealed their flaws. I also liked how you gave every character equal amount of spotlight, like Laurel’s English teacher.

I particularly liked that you made May’s favourite poem to be E.E Cummings’ “I Carry Your Heart” because it is one of my favourites as well.

I cried so much in this book, and I cried even more while putting this and this on repeat on my mp3.

Overall, this book gave me the chills and the flutters and the nostalgic and magical feel that I get when I watch movies like Sunny and Reply 1997. It’s a feeling I cannot describe in words, but I have definitely searched and felt it hidden in your words.

My favourite lines were:

“You can be noble and brave and beautiful and still find yourself falling.”

“But we aren’t transparent. If we want someone to know us, we have to tell them stuff.”

“she walked like she belonged in a better world,”

“Truth is beautiful, no matter what that truth is. Even if it’s sccary or bad. It is beauty simply because it’s true. And truth is bright. Truth makes you more you. I want to be me.”

“I know I wrote letters to people with no address on this earth, I know that you are dead. But I hear you. I hear all of you. We were here. Our lives matter.”


j e a n xx

钧 x x