My reasons for reading Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira were twofold. First, it was recommended by someone whose brain I greatly admire. Second, I have been experiencing a strange draw to Young Adult Fiction of late. Taking both into consideration, my choice to read this book turned out to be a good one.
The premise of this story is quite simple: high school English assignment meets troubled teen. The result? A very real glimpse into the psyche of today’s youth. Each chapter consists of letters to famous dead people, some ranging from the recently departed Amy Whinehouse to the long gone but not forgotten Amelia Earheart. While this was such a basic concept for a story it was one that ended up really striking a chord with me.
At first I was mildly taken aback by the amount of teenage drama represented (of which, I really can’t be surprised), but what ended up radiating from the pages was the realization of how accessible the dead are. I mean, think about it, in life we hold a rather high degree of expectation for those around us. Be there when we need them; listen to our problems; extend a voice of reason and comfort. When those ideals are not fulfilled to our liking, frustration and feelings of abandonment abound. However, when we turn to the dearly departed for release and solstice we receive unwavering attention. Cherished loved ones feel less than an arm’s length away. Famous celebrities can be visited at their grave. There’s an intimate connection we have with others after their passing. Sad as it may be, I believe there is great comfort in that thought.
While at times I had mixed emotions about this book, once I finished it I realized it has continued to stick with me. Not only did the idea of writing letters to the departed intrigue me, but I also recognized how much I appreciated the rawness of the story – it was so real and relatable.
I have already recommended this book to several young people – and I wait anxiously for their shared feedback.
Next up on the book shelf: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby