This Is Not a Love Letter

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Jan 2018

Member Reviews

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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I was prepared to sigh at this one. I expected gushy teen romance, maybe with a touch of snark. But that's not what this is. Its more relationship forensics. Far more emotionally complex. And I was a fan of the path that the investigation takes.
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Starts as a typical people in a relationship/one disappears/the story is told from the person who is left behind/flashbacks to important parts of their relationship. It ends, however, as more of a meditation on mental illness and the grieving process. Not a bad turn, as stories go, but this story is lacking a lot of depth to really give it any meaning. Besides the lead, none of the supporting characters have any depth, and the detective and the “villain” are so cliqued, it’s eye-roll worthy. The lead’s story is compelling, and there are some interesting ideas on small town mentalities and racism and depression, but not enough to really buoy the story. The ending also wraps up way too neatly, with not a lot of depth. Not a bad story, just light.
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From the beginning of the book, my attention was caught. I love books that start with a letter, I don't know why. But right away, I wanted to know what happened to her boyfriend. The author had a great writing style (although at times seemed to be trying a little too much to make it flowery). Otherwise, the characters were likable, the story was good, and I would recommend it.
A solid 3.5
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A great look at a tragic, realistic situation of loss, romance, and regrets.  Mental illness and depression can be very hard on relationships, and the possibility of suicide leaves a wake of guilt in a community.  Jessie's frantic search rings very true in the heart of a reader.
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Generally, books written from first point of view are not on my favourites shelf. Maybe it’s a prejudice or maybe I just find third-person narrative more appealing, but «This is not a love letter» made me forget about all of that and shattered my heart multiple times for Jessie, for Chris and for what could have been. 

Synopsis is very clear when it comes to the settings of the book - we read a letter from Jessie to Chris relating everything that is happening once he goes missing. All emotions, all possibilities and a lot of suspense. 

The four stars that I gave to this book were purely based on emotions that I felt as the story progressed further and further:

That is to say that there were quite a lot of flaws, but if you are able to see pass them and just enjoy the story, let yourself get overwhelmed by emotions, after a certain point you will stop noticing them. However, I feel that it is my duty to leave you with these warnings:

- the choice of words and sentence construction sometimes felt a little bit too simple, and even vulgar. I know we were reading what Jessie would have wrote or said but I believe that this could have been done better;
- yes, the ending and the whole storyline was predictable, but it didn’t steal from overall enjoyment and, as I said previously, this was all about emotions anyway;
- Jessie and Chris were the only characters we really got to know, as Jessie was the one telling the story and Chris was the main topic, and I wish we would have gotten a little bit more information and personalities from the side characters as well. 

Before writing this review, I actually did something that I don’t normally allow myself, is to check reviews from other readers on GoodReads, and there were many mixed opinions. 

I’d say, if you are in the mood for an emotional YA love story with hints of mystery, you should definitely pick this up.
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When a teen goes missing, his girlfriend refuses to believe he’s run away. Instead she focuses on the positive and begins documenting the search for him, hoping to share it with him when he returns. Author Kim Purcell recounts this tale for teens by using the unusual choice of second person point of view that ultimately weakens her novel This Is Not A Love Letter.

Jessie Doone loves her boyfriend, baseball star Chris Kirk, but lately Chris has gotten clingy. He wants to get married before they both graduate from high school, and while Jessie can’t imagine her life without Chris she also wants a chance at pursuing her own dreams outside their small town. She wants to leave it all behind: her mother who struggles with hoarding and the prejudiced residents of Pendling, Washington, who look at her and Chris and see only a biracial couple.

Chris supports her goals of studying the environment in college, but he’s begun pressuring Jessie for a decision on getting married. Jessie finally hits her limit and asks Chris for a break. Just a week, she says, of no contact, to give them both time to think about their futures. Surely, she reasons, a week apart can only yield good results.

Then Jessie gets the news: Chris has gone missing. Unlike other times when Chris would take some time for himself, he has left no note. No one knows where he’s gone.

The police think Chris has run away. Jessie thinks something more sinister is possible. Just weeks earlier, several other baseball players beat up Chris because he’s black. Chris believes deeply in nonviolent forms of protest and didn’t fight back. Now Jessie wishes he had.

Jessie decides to keep a record of the search for him. In her journal entries, she talks directly to Chris in the hopes that sending out her love in strong waves will bring him home. The longer he’s gone, however, the less positive the people around Jessie remain that Chris will come back safe and sound.

Author Kim Purcell presents her story with an unusual choice of point of view: she tells the story in second person, which means the main character addresses the reader as “you” in telling the story. In the case of This Is Not A Love Letter, Jessie tells the story to Chris as she waits for some news of him. She tells him several times throughout the book how much she loves and misses him and wonders why he left. In some ways, the second person point of view might make sense. Unfortunately it doesn’t work.

Because Jessie spends the entire book “talking” to Chris, the majority of the conversation turns into how she feels about him and their relationship. Jessie also spends plenty of time detailing life in Pendling with a mother who can barely leave the house because of her issues with hoarding. What readers won’t get is much time with Chris or anyone else in the book, and because the story contains a mystery at its heart the essential elements for that mystery never get shared.

Chris and Jessie’s friends hint at issues Chris may have, but readers get only those hints. More astute members of the target readership will probably figure out early on what happened to Chris, but receiving confirmation of a correct guess comes with little satisfaction. At a key point in the story, one of the secondary characters reprimands Jessie. Not everything about Chris missing, the character says, is about Jessie. Yet the choice of point of view and the heavy doses of teenage melodrama give readers the distinct feeling that Chris going missing is about Jessie’s feelings.

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. I recommend readers Bypass This Is Not A Love Letter.
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i wish i could have said I loved this book but it was just okay. nothing really stuck out and wowed me. i gave this 2 stars but i would still try out the authors other worked
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This book is incredibly devastating to read, and it really took a lot out of me, emotionally. The topics that it deals with are heartbreaking and heavy. The plot overall was interesting, but that is the only thing that make me keep reading. 

I personally was not a fan of the writing style at all. I found it distracting and confusing because the main character was writing letters to her missing boyfriend and continuously referred to him as "you." Also, I just could not relate to the main character, Jessie, at all. I found her a little bit annoying at times. 

Plus, the titles of the chapters were really confusing. I think that each title should have contained a date, not just the ones in present time. It would have created a better storyline for me personally. 

However, I did enjoy the story in terms of plot. I believe it could have been executed better, but overall it was an okay book.
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One night Chris, a popular high school athlete who is African American, goes out for a run, and doesn't come back. When Jessie, his white girlfriend, learns about it the next morning, she fears the worst. Could the rich white boys who had beaten Chris up attacked him again? Could her asking him for a one week break prompted him to go off on a trip and not tell anyone? Written as a letter to Chris by Jessie that describes what's happening while he's missing, the events leading up to it, and her deep feelings for him, this book is tense, engrossing, and surprising.
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When Chris, her straight A, athletic scholarship African American boyfriend disappears she simply can't believe the story the police come up with! Jessie blames herself for their one-week break, because she didn't stop him from running along the river, the same place where he was beat up 3 weeks previously. Now Jessie is writing Chris a letter of her own to tell him everything that’s happening while he’s gone and along the way face the guilt of a past more complicated than she wants to admit.


The short review...

I was totally drawn into the story of Jessie! This is a character driven look at the stunning shock of a person you love disappearing. It was stunning! I desperately wanted Jessie to find Chris or at least learn who did this to him... and I wasn't disappointed, though it is quite shocking even as you feel a creeping horror that it is what you are starting to suspect. I can't say any more without spoilers.

I do want to warn readers that the narrative will read in a totally unique way. At first you'll think this writing is really off / odd / uncomfortable. ACCEPT IT! I'm begging you to cast off those thoughts and allow yourself to be pulled into Jessie's story. As you learn more about Jessie and her insecurities you'll start to realize it doesn't matter this girl talks a little off / odd / uncomfortable. Chris loved her and she really is quite a lovely human being... The journey is beautiful, evocative and soul crushing.


Cover & Title grade -> A+

I LOVED this cover... There is something about the smudgy water color that spoke to me. It isn't explicit in illustrating what this story is about... but then you read the book and get to that end and think... I UNDERSTAND! I get the colors and that smudgy sky with a hint of tree line. And its so beautiful!


Why MUST you read this book!?

Really you could read my short review and see why I LOVE this book and why I think you should too. But here are a few more reasons and I'll try not to spoil too much...

Friendship.
Chris is one of the, if not the sole, African American in the town, yet he's loved! Not only by his family but by his best friend, his girlfriend (Jessie) and a small group of other kids. As Jessie tries to learn what happened to Chris she and his best friend start to talk about the past week. It is a hard look at the sometimes tragic nature of friendship. Then we have Jessie's best friend Steph who supports her friend like nobody's business! We got dual perspectives on friendship in a way that was natural and beautiful!

Depression.
Chris was able to get out of Brooklyn due to parents who loved and adored him and were willing to sacrifice to save him if they could. Depression follows you everywhere. It is a mental illness that some people believe doesn't exist and which makes people rather uncomfortable. It isn't about what you are doing but what is going on in their head as they struggle with these feelings that are swamping their body. It is debilitating and real. It is easily missed and hidden. You'll get up close and personal with it in the course of the story... it'll be hard but well worth the understanding you'll feel coming out the other side.

Race.
This was one of the more fascinating aspects of the story. It is subtle and yet without this aspect I think the story would have been a more hum-drum grief and loss rather than shockingly good. I don't want to ruin this but Jessie feels race has a lot to do with what happened and passionately doesn't stand by to allow the perpetrators to get away with what they've done... Sometimes though people are just people and not the sum total of their skin color.

I'm sorry to be obscure about the story... I LOVED it... It's different and unique with a blend of natural fears and conclusions with mental illness at their root. Jessie's voice is the star of the book. She feels like she’s from a small town, someplace she must escape from. We aren’t just told it but you FEEL it! 

BOTTOM LINE: Beautiful Writing with Elements of Race and Mental Illness
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What would you do if you woke up on the Saturday before your high school graduation and realized that your boyfriend is missing -- the boyfriend you asked for a one-week break so you could ponder some of the big decisions he wanted the two of you to make about your future? Jessie writes him a letter. As we follow Jessie's narrative we realize that she is white and her boyfriend is black. That they live in a small town which is more racist than they want to admit. That there are mental health problems in both of their homes. 

This is not an easy book to read. You will read about racism, abuse, mental illness, suicide and watch through Jessie's eyes as the search for Chris becomes more intense. Would not recommend for young teens, but older teens will learn about the importance of talking to others about your struggles and about being that person who provides support and love for the people in your life.
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This one was fine for me. It was a little heavy handed at time.
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There is something about this book that feels experimental. This will make it unpalatable for some people, but you should give it a try. It's not my favorite epistolary novel, but it is a story that will stay with me for a while.
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When I read the book description of ‘This is Not a Love Letter’ when I first saw the book on Netgalley, I immediately found myself interested. I love reading a nice romance. And this book was supposedly a romance story with some suspense. A perfect combination, is you ask me. So when my request got accepted I was super excited.

‘This is Not a Love Letter’ is a book unlike any other I read. The book is written through the eyes of Jessie. To be correct, the book is supposedly written by Jessie. It’s a letter for her boyfriend Chris who suddenly disappeared after they took a little break. And this was definitely something that made this book very interesting and kind of unique. 

Throughout ‘This is Not a Love Letter’ we follow Jessie’s search for Chris. We read about her search through town, and through the places they went together. We read about all the different emotions she went through. And we also read about what Jessie would like to say to Chris, if he was there. There are some flashbacks to moments in the relationship between Jessie and Chris. And I just really enjoyed reading it.

What made me keep reading this book was definitely the not knowing what happened to Chris and if he would ever be found. There were so many questions about his disappearance and this book kept me hooked till the very last page. I loved how we found out more and more about Chris and the way he felt. There was some powerful message in this book and I really enjoyed reading it.

Reading ‘This is Not a Love Letter’ definitely left me feeling emotional. Without spoiling the book completely, in case you haven’t read it, the ending was rather sad but also beautiful in a way. And what I loved most was the way this book was supposedly a letter for Chris. It felt personal, and I loved that.

‘This is Not a Love Letter’ was definitely a beautiful and touching read. And I would definitely recommend it. Especially for young adults.
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This Is Not a Love Letter is an interesting YA novel. It follows Jessie, a girl about to graduate high school whose boyfriend just went missing. When Chris went missing, he and Jessie were on a break, a week-long break she requested to get some perspective about their futures. Chris went missing while he was running on a path by a river, and Jessie is almost sure it has something to do with the boys who assaulted him near the same river recently. In their small town, Chris is one of the few black boys and Jessie (who is white) is terrified something horrible has happened to him. As she speaks out, things become increasingly murkier and increasingly dangerous for Jessie. As Jessie deals with Chris’s disappearance, she decides to write him a letter to describe what’s happening while he’s gone, as he’s written her love letters every Friday since they’ve been together.

I liked this book, but I have some complicated feelings about it. The epistolary style works very well to tell the story, and I thought it was a great way to read it. Jessie, being a teenager dealing with big stuff, doesn’t always make the best choices in her handling of the situation, but that’s to be expected and it’s really great to see everything through her eyes. She also has a lot on her plate, in addition to Chris’s disappearance and it’s interesting to see how she handles (or doesn’t handle) everything.
This book also tackles some big issues, from mental health to racism. I felt like it did some of these well, and others not as well. I feel like the mental health issues dealt with were realistic and handled with sensitivity. It was more subtly woven through the story at times than the racism aspect, and I felt like it was skillfully done. On the other hand, I feel like the racism issues were handled a lot more bluntly, and I felt like it mainly touched the surface of a lot of the issues, but the fact that they are presented is important. I also liked how Jessie took time to confront her own prejudices and thoughts at times throughout the book, and I felt like that was very valuable.

This book was a hard book to put down. I really cared deeply about what happened to Chris, and I felt for Jessie and the people in their lives as they dealt with this horrible situation. I had a lot of anger throughout the book, and I also had a lot of tears. If you’re in the mood for a mystery with heart, I do recommend this book.
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This is Not a Love Letter by Kim Purcell is a YA novel about a girl, Jessie, who is writing journal entries to her missing boyfriend. It’s supposed to be a full account of what happened and what she was thinking and feeling, knowing that she would be able to give it to him once found. As the reader, you also realize she’s doing this as a way to cope with his loss and the guilt that she had asked for a break just a few days prior. 

This story is a believable portrait of teen life. It excels for telling a story that includes issues of race, suicide, bullying, homosexuality, and other important topics. Mental illness is also brought up in different ways. However, it felt at times that these things were being brought up but not being given the discussion time they deserve. 

The writing style isn’t going to be for everyone. For starters, Jessie is writing to Chris. So, when she says “you” it means him. I didn’t mind this at all. In fact, I found it sort of refreshing. While we don’t really know Chris in the present moment, her talks to him reveal much about him and make him a part of the story in a way that is completely necessary. 

My biggest problem was that at times I felt things dragged on. There were moments where I felt like I didn’t need more description or I got whatever point was trying to be addressed. Meanwhile, there were other parts where I wanted things to continue or I needed more information. 

Still, I think with all of the important topics, the interesting writing style (again, not for everyone) it’s worth reading. It could have been better in parts, but overall I am glad that I read it.
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Thank you @netgalley for providing me with the ARC of #ThisIsNotALoveLetter by @typingthumbs #KimPurcell. 
Jessie wakes up one day to find out her boyfriend Chris is missing. He went for a run the night before and never made it back home. Jessie and Chris’s friends are doing everything the can to search for him. It comes to light that Chris was jumped by some guys for the color of him skin. He is an African American in a predominantly white town. It also comes out that Chris has been struggling with depression. All Jessie wants to know is what happened to Chris. 
If you do not want to cry then do not read this book. It took me about a quarter of the book to get into the writing style but the actual story pulled me in. It touches on two difficult topics, racism and mental illness. You know from the beginning that something obviously happened to Chris, the question becomes is he a victim or was it self inflicted. 
The story was good but honestly I can’t necessarily say I enjoyed it because it was just so sad. If you are interested in a good emotional read be sure to check out This Is Not A Love Letter releasing today, January 30th.
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