- Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
- Publication date: 4/1/2014
- Source: ARC provided by the publisher for review
It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.
This is a book that I had been pining for forever, so I was really excited to read it. It's not typical of me to read a book in one day, but this was one that I couldn't put down. I loved this book and I just couldn't stop. I really liked how it's written all in letters to dead people, but we uncover the story of her past, and follow her through the present. It's easy to feel disconnected to a story when written in this format, but instead, I was drawn into the way she was able to pour out everything inside her in these letters. Things she couldn't say out loud, couldn't tell anyone. The way this story tugged on my every emotion left me breathless and needing to see how Laurel's story turned out. This was dark, but also beautiful and emotion filled. Ultimately this is about Laurel, but it's also about all of those surrounding her as well.
Laurel is an interesting character to read. She is suffering from grief, guilt, feeling alone, and trying to find herself. When she has an assignment in English class to write a letter to someone dead, she does the assignment, but doesn't pass it in. Instead, she starts writing many letters to different dead people. It's her way of letting the things inside of her out. She tells them about things in the past, and things that are happening now. We get to see her form friendships, fall in love, fall apart. It's heartbreaking, but hopeful. We see that she is slowly seeing who she really is, but her past as well as things in the present are holding her back. She is lost and trying to find her way. Trying to fit in. Trying to make things make sense. She is perceptive to others, but can't seem to see herself. She was one of those characters who I just wanted to go into the book and help them in any way that I could. Though at times it was hard to see her going through certain things, I loved it. It all makes her who she is.
Now onto Sky. OMG I loved that boy. He has his own secrets too. He is Mr. Mysterious. It wasn't hard to guess that he went to school with Laurel's sister, but I wanted to know him. He never pushed Laurel though. He wanted her to be able to open up to him, but was never insistent on it. He wanted her to do it on her won. To trust him with what she held inside. He hated seeing her falling apart. At times he seems a bit harsh, but I understood it. Being that we are getting the story from Laurel's POV in letters, that is saying a lot. I really felt like I was getting to know him, and feel what he was feeling. He was such a good person, even though he comes across as the bad boy.
The romance was really great because it wasn't easy. It was gradual and hard. Laurel and Sky care for each other, but how broken Sky is really takes a toll on their relationship. It hurts him and scares him to be with her at times. When she loses herself and is lost in her despair, but won't let him in, he doesn't know what to do. She needs him and loves him, but she doesn't know how to open up. She holds everything in and isn't good at talking about feelings. She has a lot of issues and things going on in her head, and has no clue how to deal. They are great for each other, but they don't know how to be together while so broken. Their relationship made me so happy, and broke my heart at the same time.
This was a very deep book. Laurel's letters to the dead let us into how their lives fit in to what is going on in hers, or something that is in her past. She compares her friends, family, and relationship to certain aspects of these dead peoples lives. She really wants to know them, how they were when they were alive. What they did for people and how they affected those around them. They are her outlet. She feels like she is able to find herself in them by telling them her story. It gives her the strength and courage to be who she really is. Not knowing how to express herself in real life, the letters are the way she is able to. I loved this book so much. For some, the whole letter thing might not work, but it kept me completely hooked to the book wanting to know what her next letter would say. The writing was beautiful, the story was even more so. Dealing with many issues including death, family issues, relationship issues, and sexuality, this is a fantastic book that I think everyone should read!!
*An advanced copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation.