Thank you Bloomsbury India for sending me a copy of this book for review.
In Love Letters to the Dead, Ava Dellaira chronicles the heart-wrenching process that Laurel goes through, trying to cope with the loss of her elder sister, May. After May’s death, Laurel begins to blame herself, as her parents go their own way. Dealing with loss of identity and social withdrawal, Laurel finds solace in writing letters to dead artists. She gains inspiration from their life and works, and is able to express all that she is holding in. But sooner or later, she must open up to her friends, even at the risk of losing them, so as to not lose her own sense of self.
I love epistolary novels. This one is in the form of letters that Laurel writes to deceased people, talking about her day and how everything and everyone around her has changed after May’s death. The tone of the book is melancholic and yet there is a fierceness in it because of Laurel’s resolve to keep her sister alive within herself. Some of the themes that are predominant in this book are loss, abuse and love. The author’s writing style is like ripples in the water. It prods the stillness in Laurel’s life while smoothening out the tangles in others’. Nature has been used quite often to symbolize Laurel’s emotions leading to vivid imageries that I rather liked. Another thing I enjoyed reading were the snippets of poetry that were incorporated into the story.
Some cliches that could have been done away with were the high school social hierarchy, the negativity towards LGBTQ+, the brooding silent hero etc. The characters are seemingly very realistic and not overdone. Tristan’s character is so exceptionally outlined and is my favorite of them all. He uplifted Laurel and even though, mostly he is shown to be this goofy-musician type person, he is wise and agreeable. Laurel’s younger persona broke me, largely because of how pure and wholehearted her love for her sister is. Even though her family is not always in the best form, she and May were each other’s anchor. It is upsetting how her family falls apart, and she is almost stranded on an island of suffering by herself. But it also shows in her growth arc, how she manages to pull herself out of that phase. I just wish her Mum and Dad had been more involved. They were very passive characters. This novel melts your heart into a gooey marshmallow. It is humbling and grounding. Do pick it up and know that, after all the blubbering, like Laurel, you’ll be in a better place too.
Ratings – 4 stars on 5.