Love Letters to the Dead
You think you know someone, but that person always changes, and you keep changing, too. I understood it suddenly, how that’s what being alive means. Our own invisible plates shifting inside of our bodies, beginning to align into the people we are going to become.
Things about me that you probably know if you are an avid reader of this blog: I am a sucker for pretty pretty words.
Love Letters to the Dead is full of them . Full to the very brim. Delicate words, and breakable characters and a storyline that haunts you. It’s like Perks, which is how Jen sold it to me, in one of her zomgz Jo read this book text messages (always my favourite kind of text messages.)
She said: it’s a modern day ‘Perks…’ It has lots of Jo sentences and I want to quote the whole book to you.’
So I bought it, and I read it (in like, an evening) and now here I am, rather wanting to quote the whole book to you, o lovely readers. It has that vibe that made Perks so special, but it is by no means a carbon copy; it’s the same sort of special in an entirely different way. Because this is my blog, and I will talk in sentences that make no sense if I want and you can’t stop me.
Sometimes when we say things, we hear silence. Or only echoes. Like screaming from inside. And that’s really lonely. But that only happens when we weren’t really listening. It means we weren’t ready to listen yet. Because every time we speak, there is a voice. There is the world that answers back.”
There is no getting away from the fact that this is a stunning debut; I am doing well with those lately, and that makes me extremely happy. Give me all the books from all the new exciting people please.
So, why’d I like it?
The voice of Laurel, our protagonist, is so strong the whole way through, so absolutely spot on, and so real: this kid is messed up, and Dellaira gets right inside her head so that your heart kind of breaks right along with hers. There’s a strong cast of supporting characters too: Laurel’s new best friends who are falling in love with each other and don’t know what to do about that because being gay in high school is the opposite of easy; Sky, the boy Laurel loves who is just so precious and kind and utterly flawed – he’s such a teenage boy sometimes in his actions and reactions and I love how real that makes him. Sky isn’t perfect ands sometimes he’s a bit of an asshat, and I love him for it; the two seniors that Laurel and her pals befriend, a couple of years older but no more sure of who they are; Laurel’s Dad and Aunt Amy. Every single person is just so real. So, we have excellent characterisation and a strong narrative voice combined with the utterly beautiful use of language: yep, s’probably exactly why Jen was so adamant I read it. She knows me well. (& it’s super clever too: I loved how the letters to all the different (dead) celebrities were used to explain the complexities of grief.)
This book felt eerily like being taken apart and then slowly reassembled as somebody new: I got that feeling, albeit on a much deeper level, when I read Perks, and The Book Thief. It has that kind of under-the-skin emotion to it. & you know, you might kind of hate it, because on the surface it is just another ‘high school sucks’ book full of teenage angst and drama, and I get that, I do, except this book is so much more than it seems on the surface. It really is: it’s a book about loss, and pain and how to deal with that and how to keep going; it’s about putting a person on a pedestal and how dangerous that can be; it’s about forgiveness and finding a way to like oneself, to accept oneself.
When we are in love, we are both completely in danger and completely saved.”
It was then that I could feel that the moths in him, with their wings so paper-thin, will never be near enough to the light. They will always want to be nearer - to be inside of it. It was then that I could feel the lost thing in him.”
It wasn’t fair what happened to you, either. Or what happened to her. A lot of things aren’t. I guess we can either be angry about it forever or else we just have to try to make things better with what we have now.”