This was a book that I had heard very mixed reviews on; people either loved it or hated it – and of course, I just had to be the person that thought it was in between. I didn’t dislike it, I didn’t love it. It just took forever to get into and I nearly DNF’d (did not finish) it. But luckily the last quarter of the book saved it from being dumped in the DNF pile!
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. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to the dead—to people like Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, Amelia Earhart, and Amy Winehouse—though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating the choppy waters of new friendships, learning to live with her splintering family, falling in love for the first time, and, most important, trying to grieve for May. But how do you mourn for someone you haven’t forgiven?
It’s not until Laurel has written the truth about what happened to herself that she can finally 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 truly start to discover her own path.
As aforementioned, this book took absolutely ages to get into.
You can see in the picture above that I was nearly half way through the book and I wanted to stop. I loved the concept, I sorta liked the characters but the plot? The plot just fell into a deep, dark hole for the first 60% of the book.
Don’t let this put you off though, because as you can see, I still gave this book 3 stars and that was because of the last 40%. It started to get better when things in the books started to get worse. It got better because something was actually happening, the main character – Laurel – wasn’t just moping around school and staring at a guy – Sky. Once Laurel started to remember the night her sister got killed, once Laurel started to have flashbacks to that night, the book got more interesting, the characters started to develop in fantastic ways and it just got way more enjoyable.
Dellaira is a beautiful writer. When the plot dies down, you can still experience Dellaira capture the essence of how hurt, lonely and depressed Laurel is. We can see how she just wants to mingle with her fellow classmates and how she wants to have a ‘normal’ school experience.
“What I told you about saving people isn’t true. You might think it is, because you might want someone else to save you, or you might want to save someone so badly. But no one else can save you, not really. Not from yourself. […] You fall asleep in the foothills, and the wolf comes down from the mountains. And you hope someone will wake you up. Or chase it off. Or shoot it dead. But when you realize that the wolf is inside you, that’s when you know. You can’t run from it. And no one who loves you can kill the wolf, because it’s part of you. They see your face on it. And they won’t fire the shot.”
― Ava Dellaira,
I feel like I ought to mention the LGBT theme underlying this book. Two characters are gay. One knows that they are, the other one does but doesn’t want to face and accept it so carries on with their heterosexual relationships. In the end, they do end up accepting themselves. However, these two characters are secondary characters so if you are looking for a homosexual protagonist, then this book is not for you. Again, these two characters are secondary characters and their story is finding themselves among the prejudice of society. The main relationship is heterosexual.
Even though their relationship is a sub-plot, it was very interesting to see their relationship start and develop. I cried for them. I really did. I wanted them so much to find happiness with each other throughout the book. It was a sub-plot but I felt like it was more prominent to the actual relationship between Laurel and Sky. They were cute together, sure. But I just felt like their relationship was boring.
There is so much to say to about this book but if I spoke about everything then this review would be 50,000 words or something stupid like that. Just know that the first 160(ish) pages are slow and are just building up towards the last half, the writing is beautiful, the homosexual relationship is beautiful and the ending left me in tears.
Read this book just to get to the amazing second half.