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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.
Dear Kurt Cobain,
Mrs. Buster gave us our first assignment in English today, to write a letter to a dead person.
I’m sorry but that blurb by Stephen Chbosky feels so biased.
PROS: Good concept, series of letter written to dead famous people. I liked the idea of writing to someone famous, someone who doesn’t know you but you know parts of their life but don’t really. I liked that it was a way for the character to reflect on her life and find herself.
However, this book was so pretentious with such a passive and dull speaker. Laurel was too naive for me to care about her, she had no character or personality of her own, she only comes off as a girl who’s only too willing to be pulled along by peer pressure. This book goes nowhere. Laurel’s despair over May’s death is tremendously subtle, and so suppressed that I can hardly tell she’s grieving at all. And the information given to us from this artist aren’t anything I wouldn’t have read in 5 minutes on Wikipedia. A few paragraphs on the artists themselves, and then a million pages of this girl rambling on about whatever. I could not get immersed in Laurel’s character because she has such an inconsistent voice. In some parts of her narrative Laurel sounds like a 12-year old. And then she starts saying philosophical crap out of nowhere. The narrative voice didn’t work for me at all.
This supposed grief over May’s death isn’t there. Sure, Laurel is supposed to be really sad about May, considering she died, but I never felt her sadness. It is a matter of telling, not showing. You could argue that Laurel is suppressing her grief really well, but why would I want to read a book like that? Also, I really disliked her sister, she sounded like such a bad influence to Laurel, no matter how hard she tried to be a role model.
Some really bad things happen to Laurel in this book, and I didn’t care. I want to care but I didn’t. I couldn’t relate to her. I didn’t like her. I couldn’t bring myself to sympathise with her or her story.