Number of Pages: 323
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: April 1, 2014
“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 book is based on such an intriguing concept: the idea of writing letters to dead people. I wish that this had been my English assignment, because I would have loved it! It may be morbid, but it’s interesting nonetheless. I’m not sure who I would write to- probably a historical figure from the American colonial period, since I’m really interested in that part of our history.
Anyways, moving on.
Before I have a history-nerd rant about how I totally ship John and Abigail Adams.
To be honest, I wasn’t too thrilled with the beginning of this book. I had a hard time connecting with Laurel, the narrator and main character, and I found that I had basically no connections at all with the deceased people she was writing to. I thought the pacing was rather slow, and I even contemplated putting the book down for a bit and trying to read it again sometime in the future. After contemplating it for a little while I eventually decided that I would just slog through it with the hope that it would improve.
And improve it did! After the first hundred pages or so I began to enjoy the story more and more, and as I neared the end I found it hard to put the book down. Laurel grew on me as a narrator, and by the end of the book I was used to the way she wrote and thought and expressed herself. I liked the suspense of not knowing how or why May died, as well as the mystery of why Laurel felt so guilty about her sister’s death. The information was leaked bit by bit throughout the story through snippets of Laurel’s memories, which I thought was really clever and worked well with the format of the letters. Another thing I really liked about this book was that nearly all of the characters experienced major character development- Laurel, her friends, and even her parents! The significant inclusion of a teenage character’s parents is not all that common in the young adult genre, so this novel was certainly more unique in that regard. The epilogue was realistic and satisfying while still leaving enough loose ends to leave some parts up to the interpretation of the reader.
Overall, I ended up really enjoying this novel. The latter part of the story definitely outweighs the negative first impression I had at the beginning. It reminded me a lot of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, only written from a girl’s perspective. If you liked that novel, then you’ll probably really like this one!
My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5 smileys.
Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes, but keep in mind that this book deals with dark issues such as depression, suicide, dysfunctional families, and general teenage angst. If my friend was at all sensitive to any of these subjects I would definitely not recommend this book to them.
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments section below!