When author Ava Dellaira was a panelist at YALLWEST 2015 (see earlier posts), she was asked what her debut novel was about. She modestly said something along the lines of, “It’s about a girl whose sister dies and she begins to write letters to dead people.”
The opening missive in Love Letters to the Dead is to Kurt Cobain, the mysteriously deceased older sister’s favorite musician. Each letter to Judy Garland, River Phoenix, Janis Joplin, Allan Lane (voice of Mr. Ed), among others reveals younger sister Laurel’s guilt, anger, abandonment, and emotional metamorphosis as she shares the events leading up to a tragic night that tore her family apart.
The book reads like a diary that’s been left in plain sight with the invitation to read. Maybe that’s why previous readers had underlined favorite passages and scrawled “Fave Page” on numerous pages in my public library copy. Every passage in the final chapters of this book was emotive and indelible. My favorite passage: There’s a new sadness now, as I open my fist I’ve been clenching shut and realize that there’s nothing there. I don’t know how to keep her.”
Please read this book before its adaption appears in theaters.