“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.
In a voice that’s as lyrical and as true as a favorite song, Ava Dellaira writes about one girl’s journey through life’s challenges with a haunting and often heartbreaking beauty.”
On September 29, 2015, FSG Books for Young Readers will publish the paperback edition of Ava Dellaira’s luminous 2014 debut, LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD. This generation’s The Perks of Being A Wallflower, it’s a story about first love, first loss, best friends, and discovering yourself. (Read my Review Here) So to celebrate this paperback release a few bloggers and I wrote our own love letter to a famous someone and in turn Ava wrote her response letter.
Dear Heath Ledger,
I’ve been sitting at my computer for the past few hours trying to figure out what I wanted to say to you… I watched some of your interviews, I read your Wikipedia page, I googled your quotes, I read articles about you from all kinds of people…. people who knew you closely, people you worked with, people who met you only a hand full of times, Fans… Mostly fans… and they all had nothing but good things to say about you. They said you were kind, you were funny…They said you were passionate about your job and you would do these crazy things to get into character… Like, lock yourself in a hotel room for a week and go over lines, trying out different laughs and voices for The Joker… They said you carried a diary of news clippings about really horrible stories that would help you get into character… I was reading all of these things and I was smiling. I LOVE your passion.
When you spoke about your daughter….my heart melted. When you said that you have a new sense of life and death after her birth. Because you could die happy…. but you also don’t want to leave because you wanted to be there for her. Life isn’t about money or fame. its about love… You loved your daughter…You loved your job… the art of it all… you cared about the art…It brought you happiness…and it touched peoples hearts… you made people feel things. People felt a connection with you through your art. That is powerful.
You died at 28 years old…for me… that is four years from now. That seems crazy…so short of a life… but through your art you were able to live more than one life… becoming each of your characters…you were able to do what you love.. and you experienced unconditional love… and not many people get to experience that…some people spend their whole life chasing after it. People said what a shame that you died so young…a talent gone too soon… but I think your life and death was quite beautiful… it was like your final piece of art. You had a full life… & I only hope to have a fraction of what you had in my lifetime.
Thank you so much for your wonderful letter to Heath Ledger. I loved reading about all that you learned about him as you sat down to write it! And I love that you point out how passionate he was about his art, and about the people whom he loved. I am one of the many who, like you say, felt a connection to him through his art.
The first time I saw Heath Ledger was in Ten Things I Hate About You. I was 16, and I had a giant crush on him back then. I wished I were Kat in the movie, so he’d be singing Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You to me.
When I was a college student, he blew me away and broke my heart as Ennis in Brokeback Mountain. For years, when someone would ask me about my favorite movies, that was one at the top of my list.
And, after he’d died, when I went to see The Dark Knight in the theater with my boyfriend, he shook us both with his performance as the Joker, as he did so many others. It was an astounding movie, as was Heath’s rendition of the character.
As you point out, he was someone who so readily and generously gave himself to all he did. His passion showed in his work, and we all got to have a glimpse of it; some of us were changed by it.
For you, 28 is only four years away. For me, 28 was four years ago. My first book had not yet been published. I’d only just met the man I want to spend my life with. I was still struggling to grow up, to figure out who I wanted to become. And at the same age, Heath had already rocked the world with his talent, had already become a deeply loving father; as you say, it’s incredible what he was able to do in his life. I will admit, I’m amongst those who believes his death is a tragedy. But, I’m also, like you, amongst those who continues to be inspired by everything he shared with us.
About Ava Dellaira
Ava Dellaira is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. She grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago. She believes this book began when she bought her second album ever—Nirvana’s In Utero—which she listened to on repeat while filling the pages of her journal. She currently lives in Santa Monica, California, where she works in the film industry and is writing her second novel.
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Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour!
BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE
September 21st: Forever Young Adult
September 22nd: Rebel Mommy Book Blog
September 23rd: Fangirl Feels
September 24th: The Reading Nook Reviews
September 25th: Alexa Loves Books
September 28th: YA Bibliophile
September 29th: Into the Hall of Books