Love Letters to the Dead – Ava Dellaira

For a novice it is pretty okay – but I wouldn’t rave. I’m an adult, though, an adult male who, at 65 moreover, is as probably as far away from the intended audience as I can get. So maybe I am no judge.

Reading a few of the gushing reviews of ‘Love Letters to the Dead’ on-line, it seems I am way in the minority. And the author has gone on, since this 2014 effort, to scribe ‘In Search Of’, with ’17 Years’ coming in 2018. ‘Love Letters to the Dead’ would seem like a great idea – tell a story through letters to notables who have departed the planet. This Laura undertakes, initially, as a part of an English assignment for her teacher, Mr Buster – the only character I took to, again displaying my age and previous vocation. The author/Laura uses all the usual suspects: Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin – you get the picture. But in the mix were also Amelia Earhart, Judy Garland, ee cummings, the poets John Keats and Elizabeth Bishop with Alan Lane tacked in as well. Never heard of him? Nor had I, but he is the voice of ‘Mr Ed’.

Laura doesn’t hand in her initial letter, addressed to Kurt C, to her teacher. But it starts off a frenzy of epistle writing as her way of coping with all the issues of life that have occurred, in the digital age, to this young person of such tender years. This sort of format has been done before, of course, but in Dellaira’s hands we have nothing really out of the ordinary, despite this means of conveying the narrative. There’s the angst of her grief for a dead older sister, the requisite love interest and these days, the seemingly almost requisite gay relationship all involved. It seems all very ‘he/she did this’ and ‘I then did that’ and should I or shouldn’t I give him what he wants.’

To me it is all pretty soapish without the class of writing that would place this with the best YA wordsmithery. The author, a SoCal resident, had Stephen Chbosky (‘The Perks of being a Wallflower’) as a mentor and guiding light – but with the plethora of quality stuff out there for the age group I’d suggest there’s better to be had. But I suspect ‘Love letters to the Dead’ has appealed to many much, much younger readers and the Dellaira oeuvre will continue to do so.

The author’s website – https://avadellaira.com/

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