This Is Not a Love Letter

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Jan 2018

Member Reviews

I chose to request this book because it involved many of the situations that teens are dealing with or might deal with in their lives. There is a lot of talk about racism in our country so this felt like a well-timed book but it was just too dark and heavy for me at the time. I'm sure that it will be well read but for me, I just could not get through it.
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This Is Not a Love Letter by Kim Purcell is for the most part a well written book.  There are some cringey lines and some poor attempts at levity in a very heavy book, but overall it's well written.  This is not a love letter is about a girl named Jessie who finds out that her boyfriend she was on a break from went for a run and then went missing.  There is some elements of a mystery as she attempts to find out what happened to Chris.  The book is entirely from Jesse's view point and is written in letter format to Chris, like Jesse is writing down what happened to share with Chris when he's found.  Jesse is an insecure, white girl raised by a mother with a serious mental health disorder.  The story isn't about Chris' disappearance,  Chris who was a good student, good athlete and the only black kid in a small town.  There were moments the author addressed racism, which she did fine, but mostly to the tune of racism is bad.  Just because he was a big black guy didn't mean he got into fights in fact he was a pacifist.  This was a book about Jesse's looking for Chris.  It's through Jesse that we get flashbacks of their relationship and get to know Chris.  In some ways this is a really good way to tell the story and draw out suspense.  In some ways this isn't a good way to tell the story, it makes the story all about Jesse.  I think this lessens some of the impact of the ending, the story is filtered through Jesse which gives the reader a point of view character but only the one character and we never know what's going on with anyone else as Jesse is mostly concerned with how Chris's disappearance is effecting her, and really only her.  
There was some good representation for mental health issues, both in the characters that had the problems and the family members that live with them. 
There are parts of the story I really liked.  Some of the mystery was interesting and it really kept me guessing until the end.  The writing for the most part was really spot on for the characters and the situation.  But I'm a character reader and I had a hard time connecting to Jesse.  I get why she thinks and acts the way she does, but it was really hard for me to be in her head sometimes.  She has a very vivid and over dramatic imagination.  I would recommend this book to anyone that thinks the synopsis sounds interesting.  In the end for me the good and the bad sort of average each other out and while I don't love this book I want to read more from Kim Purcell.

Slight spoiler warning but I feel absolutely important: I have to issue a trigger warning, for talk about rape, domestic abuse, and discussions about suicide.
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This Is Not A Love Letter by Kim Purcell appeals to me on that level that all books made up of letters appeals. Namely, I love them. I am such a fan of books told in this format, I guess because it does feel like you get this intimate glimpse of the characters. Of course, Purcell's book follows main character Jessie as she writes letters to her missing boyfriend, Chris.

Purcell's This Is Not A Love Letter takes on some heavy topics. At the core, aside from being about a relationship, it is about the racism that Chris experiences as one of the few young men of color in his town. Now that I have read this book in October and am looking back on it from the point of view of January 2019, I almost feel like my thoughts on this book have changed. While I think it is super important to raise awareness of racial profiling and racism in small towns, I wonder if it was really the voice of a white girl that we should privilege in that conversation. This whole book and story of Chris's disappearance is told from the white gaze. So, I guess yeah it is important to talk about relationships and racism and mental health, but maybe just maybe we should be privileging own voices in that conversation?

Otherwise, I felt like This Is Not A Love Letter was a really quick read. I thought the relationship between Jessie and Chris was interesting - because they have to set some boundaries and because it does feel a little bit consuming. There also is a pretty thoughtful exploration of Chris's mental health. Also, I liked that Jessie actually did not come from the middle class and works a job and probably was not going anywhere after high school unlike Chris. There's a lot to think about and unpack with this book and well, it wasn't a huge release, thus I think qualifies for under the radar.
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The book tries to raise some serious issues teens face today, including racism and what it’s like to live with a hoarding family member, but it doesn’t do much justice to any of them
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I liked the subject of the book, however, I lost interest in the subject due to the character. Jessie was an oddity and it was hard to get into the seriousness of the story with her antics. Her boyfriend was missing and she was talking about his buttocks, going into the woods alone at night, it was just weird. Again, I like the subject matter and it needs to be discussed more in YA.
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This one really pulls at the heartstrings. Jessie's popular, athletic, straight-A student boyfriend Chris is on his way to a full ride baseball scholarship. When he asks Jessie to move with him, she freaks out and forces them to take a break -- one week to get some space and perspective before deciding their futures. Then, Chris goes missing. Convinced he's a victim of a hate crime, Jessie and Chris' friends are determined to find him. But his path is one they never saw coming...

Thoughts: A beautiful story of how purely one person can love another, no matter the age. Jessie and Chris' relationship is one readers will be envious of. Both characters are easy to relate to and the teenage drama is so realistic, many of us will remember having the same relationship problems at their age.  This is such an amazing story that I am looking forward to sharing with my high school students.
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I loved this book! The full review will be posted soon at kaitgoodwin.com/books! Thank you very much for this wonderful opportunity to connect books to their readers!
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This one is an interesting story that pulled me in from the get go! I love how it is written. The story is engrossing and interesting, making it hard to put down!
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3.5
This book is heavy, heartbreaking. But you know that going in, as the book is written as journal entries from the main character, Jessie. Jessie's boyfriend, Chris, has gone missing. Purcell writes so you can feel the loss, you want to weep for Jessie, for Chris. The writing is very well done, however there are moments where I would have liked a little more detail, or a couple more pages. Jessie's entries are declarations of love, hope and finally, fear for herself, Chris, and their relationship. Recommended for those who want to read a love story that discusses hard topics like race, racism, and mental health.
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This book was not light, quite heavy and deep but well written. Jessie is writing letters to her boyfriend Chris after he was bullied and then disappeared. It deals with some hard issues like race, mental health and suicide, I would recommend if you are looking for a contemporary novel.
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If you love books that will make you cry,but also have a cast of amazing characters,well crafted story with a pinch of mistery and a book that deals with serious subjects - then this is the book for you. It will stay with you forever and I'm sure this is the book you will return to.
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I did not enjoy this book. No matter how hard I tried to get into it, I just couldn't get past the first chapter. It felt way too cliche and I don't think the issue was being dealt with accurately.
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This book was written in a different way. Kind of like a running letter. The mystery and suspense kept me wanting more. It talked about a real subject drawing out emotion, keeping you reading along. Definitely interested to read more by her!
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In Kim Purcell's book This is Not a Love Letter, she explores the themes of friendship, love, and mental illness through the lens of a series of love letters from Jessie to her missing boyfriend Chris. This is a well-written book that explores difficult themes.
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The strong points of and problems with This Is Not a Love Letter are easy to outline. Lord, this could have been great! For a while, it was great. Then it wasn't once I finished reading.

Purcell absolutely nailed Jessie's narrative voice. Just reading the book on my Kindle made me tear up because little quirks in her speech and the palpable desperation of her letters to her missing boyfriend Chris made it all so clear and real. Had I been listening to the audiobook, I would have been bawling at the end. Only a legendarily bad narrator could possibly dampen such raw emotion. Jessie herself is a well-drawn character who is clearly in love with Chris and hesitant to take the leap with him that he wanted before his disappearance.

At the same time, some of this writing was awful. Really awful, like the oft-cited "my eyes were slippery puddles" line and the baffling decision to mention that she counts how long pees for (32 seconds at the time she wrote it, record time of 107 seconds). That's extremely TMI as well as worrying for both Jessie and her bladder. Counting how long you let loose a stream of pee? Weird. Peeing continuously for 1 minute and 47 seconds? Please see a doctor because holding your pee in long enough for that to happen probably caused damage to your bladder.

But Jessie's complex characterization and lifelike narrative voice can't save This Is Not a Love Letter from the fact that it's a book about how a white girl's life is changed by the disappearance of her mentally ill black boyfriend.

Though the book is written in the form of letters to Chris and the events of the novel center on the entire town looking for him, the novel is never actually about Chris. It's all about Jessie all the time. Chris's mother even calls Jessie out for being so self-centered amid the events of the novel, but that doesn't erase or even make okay the fact that this book is solely about how Chris's existence changed Jessie's life. Because of him, she applied for a passport, actually considered life beyond being white trash from the Pacific Northwest, and generally learned to live.

This is not how you write black characters, especially so if they have depression like Chris. Such characters should not exist as devices through which white people learn to really live life, but that's exactly what he is. Chris exists to be Jessie's Magical Negro. Absolutely infuriating.

The only possible reason I'd recommend this novel is to simultaneously give a writer an education on voice and on how not to write marginalized characters. We could have had it all! But no. Brilliant writing dampened by offensive narrative choices.
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Jessie and Chris are on the brink of momentous change: graduation from high school. What awaits them in the adult world is simultaneously fascinating and frightening. The two are unable to agree on the fate of their future, and Jessie proposes a break, for a week, to gain perspective and discover what they truly want from both their lives and each other. But then, Chris disappears, and the ugly truth about how the last few years of school have gone for him-relentlessly bullied and tormented-comes to light and while everyone around her insists Chris has simply run off, Jessie knows the heart breaking reality. Her love letter to Chris explores the depth of despair modern teenagers must face.
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If you are looking for a love letter keep searching! Kim did an amazing job on this book and I was pleasantly surprised!

This is a first by Kim that I have read and it was such a breathe of fresh air compared to the thriller/suspense/true crime binge I was on when I read this!
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THIS IS NOT A LOVE LETTER by Kim Purcell tells the heart-wrenching story of a teen dealing with the disappearance of her boyfriend.

When her boyfriend disappears, Jessie immediately suspects foul play. As the story unfolds, readers explore issues from their interracial relationship to mental illness and addiction. Told as a letter to her missing boyfriend, readers become immersed in the local community and are challenged to look beyond racism for answers.

Librarians will find this interracial love story to be popular with a youth who enjoy contemporary, realistic fiction. The compelling mystery and authentic characters make this an engaging young adult thriller.

Published by Disney-Hyperion on January 30, 2018. ARC courtesy of the publisher.
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Jessie's boyfriend, Chris, writes her a love letter every Friday. When he goes missing she gets the idea to write letters to him to give him when he comes back. She explains all of the things that have happened since he has been gone.

This book was heartbreaking. Mental health and harassment are covered. I found this book to be an important read, but I would tread carefully and have the tissues ready.
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Very boring to say the least. I couldn't engage with the writing style.
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