I’ve been crying for the past hour. ALL THE FEELS. This book ripped my heart to shreds and then put it back together. Review when I’m more coherent.
Ahem. Naturally, when books are hyped up, like Love Letters to the Dead (Blurbed by Stephen Chobsky, recommended by Emma Watson), I always have this sinking feeling that they won’t live up to my now uber high expectations. And to be honest, many of those hyped up books do fall short. But I can honestly say that Love Letters to the Dead is well, well worth it.
Indeed, it reminded me of a combination of a number of my past favourites - the sisterly grief from Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere, the darkness of Stephanie Kuehn’s writing, the fragmentation of Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe, and the striking/thought provoking metaphors of John Green, but less pretentious.
Love Letters to the Dead deals with a number of issues - grief, loss, broken families, first loves, fitting in and standing out, sexual assault, blame, sexual orientation, friendship, and a general finding-your-place-in-the-world. Even so, the book manages to encapsulate all these elements without feeling overdone, or becoming an “issue” book.
Just in case the title didn’t give it away, the novel is told through a series of letters to the dead - musicians, poets and history makers, both recent and long passed.
I bookmarked a few of my favourite quotes - this is indeed a very quotable book, but these really stood out for me.
But what I love most is the end of your poem, when the urn talks to us. It says this: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, - that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to now.” I keep trying to figure out exactly what you mean, but that sentence is like a circle. If beauty is truth, and if truth is beauty, they are defined by each other, so how do we know the meanings if either? I think that we make our own meanings, by putting ourselves into them. I put the moon over the street lamp into the idea of beauty, and I put the feeling of Sky’s heartbeat like moths wings, and I put Hannah’s singing voice, and I put the sound of my footsteps running after May along the trail by the river, chasing the sky.
I think a lot of people want to be someone, but we are scared that if we try, we won’t be as good as everyone imagines we could be.
I thought about how I tried so hard to be brave this year. But maybe I’ve been getting it wrong the whole time. Because there’s a different between the kind of risk that makes you burn away and the kind you took. The kind the makes you show up in the world.
I felt something between us shifting, like the hidden plates of the earth. You think you know someone, but that person always changes, and you keep changing too. I understood it suddenly, how that’s what being alive means. Our own invisible plates shifting inside of our bodies, beginning to align into the people we are going to become.
A wonderful coming of age story, that so perfectly captures and sets down into words the thoughts and feelings that so many of us have felt at some point, yet been unable to express.
I can’t describe how it felt, being there right then, so close together, on the edge between who we were and who we wanted to be. Sometimes when we say things, we hear silence. Or only echoes. Like screaming from the inside. And that’s really lonely. But that only happens when we weren’t really listening. It means we weren’t ready to listen yet. Because every time we speak, there is a voice. There is the world that answers back
I’d love more people to follow/interact with on there.
(This tumblr is mostly a mix of my reviews, literary news, things I find bookish and funny, and pretty book quote graphics that I reblog from other people because I have no photoshop skills and therefore cannot make my own. /sadface)
John Grisham, Bleachers
When a writer needs help, what do fellow writers do? We write! (Let’s be honest, it’s all we know how to do. We literally have zero other skills.) Due to his debilitating mental illnesses, fellow writer Robison Wells (Variant) and his family have crippling debt. In support of Robison Wells, his…
Shannon explains this Indiegogo campaign in support of Robison Wells very well. (Also, I was so excited when I saw that Shannon’s contribution was “Ravenous.” I can’t wait for people to read it! It’s…delicious. Mwa ha ha ha ha.)
My own contribution to the anthology is the only thing I have ever written for adults (though the content is safe for any age reader). It’s also my only straight-up sci-fi. I wrote “Womb” during the depths of my struggles with infertility and repeated miscarriages. Even though it’s not autobiographical (I am, as it turns out, neither a man nor living in a future where Earth is a blighted wasteland), it’s been interesting to go back and read it. To remember where I was when I wrote it. And to see that—even though it was during one of the bleakest and most difficult times of my adult life—the story still ends on a note of hope.
Along with that—the glimmer of hope in the midst of darkness—I hope you’ll check out the campaign. I hope you’ll support Rob and his family. Buy the anthology. Check out the other donation offers. Spare a few dollars to lend a hand to someone who could use it. We’ve all been through times when we needed that hand to pull us through, and doubtless we’ll go through them again.
Much love and admiration,