Laurel is a teenager drowning in grief for her sister who died a few months earlier, when she is asked to write a letter to someone who is gone as an English assignment she begins a process of trying to understand and come to terms with her grief.Each letter is addressed to a dead star like Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse although the book reads more like a diary as Laurel uses the letters as a way of trying to understand her life.
I first became interested in this book when I was intrigued by the title and then further intrigued by the cover quote from Stephen Chbosky. 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' is one of my very favourite books and I'm a big sucker for being influenced by who is quoted on the cover.In this case I was right to be influenced like this.Despite my love for YA in general I haven't been very inspired by anything I've read recently,which made the discovery of this book that much sweeter.
What I loved:
I found the writing very evocative and there was real emotional depth to the letters,I could really feel Laurel battling with her feelings.While she is an understandably sensitive teenager she can also be wilfull and rather reckless which serves to make her seem like a real teenager.Similarly,her relationship with Sky is developed in a realistic way through the initial flood of hormones which then give way to more difficult matters.
Although I assume the book is set now there was an enjoyable sense of the retro thanks to the references to Nirvana and River Phoenix. I love books with pop culture references and a lot of the references here were ones seeped in nostalgia for my own teenage years.I also liked the absence of references to modern technology and the fact that the teenagers don't speak in slang or text speak.
I always enjoy reading about sisters and their relationship and so I loved reading about Laurel and May although at times it made for heart wrenching reading.Towards the end of the book Laurel becomes increasingly honest about May's death and when the events begin to fit together it was with a building dread that I became aware of what had been happening.
The ending.Although I could anticipate what the very end would consist of I thought it was carried out perfectly and although I was sad it had to end I couldn't have been happier with how things were tied up.
This is an excellent debut and for me it's up there with the best the genre has to offer.Aside from Stephen Chbosky I would recommend this to fans of David Levithan,Tabitha Suzuma and Elizabeth Scott.