This Is Not a Love Letter

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Jan 2018

Member Reviews

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

All Jesse wanted was a one week break to figure out where her life is going. Chris is pressuring her to follow him and his ticket out with a baseball full-scholarship, but Jesse knows Chris is too good for her. After all, it's why they've been fighting so much recently. 

After Chris goes missing while out for a run, Jesse desperately tries to prove something is amiss. Being one of the only black kids in their prejudice-filled small town, Jesse fears someone was out to get Chris. When she makes these claims publicly, Jesse becomes a target herself. The police seem to think Chris ran away or worse, but Jesse knows Chris, and knows that's not possible. 

While the search seems to give few clues, Jesse faces many of her own demons and her guilt over how she treated Chris. His love for her was always obvious through the weekly notes he wrote and his small gestures, but maybe Chris doesn't know how much Jesse loves him. Determined to tell him, Jesse writes Chris letters, updating him on what he's been missing, and begging for her love to be enough to bring him home safely. 

THOUGHTS: This love story/mystery dragged a bit in the middle, but readers who stick with it will be rewarded with the truth about Chris and Jesse's love story. Things aren't always as they seem, and Jesse didn't know everything she thought she did about Chris. Family dynamics, personal/relationship insecurities, and mature teen relationships are all issues approached in this novel.
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Posted on Goodreads: For a more in-depth review watch:

Jessie loved her boyfriend, Chris, but their relationship had become too big.  She just wanted a one week off, a short break.  Then Chris went missing and the police think he ran away.  Jessie knows that he wouldn't just leave.  The police don't know that Chris, an African American, had be harassed in their small town, the police don't know that Chris had plans beyond next week,  and the police don't know that Jessie willing to do whatever it takes to find him.

This book was just frustrating.  I couldn't decide what what was Purcell's intended message.  Is this a book about racism or is this a book about mental illness?  Honestly, I can't say because neither storyline felt fully developed.  Adding, to the frustration was Jessie narration which didn't quite sound like a genuine teen voice.  The entire book comes together in a story that is best left unread.  

I received an eARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I recieved this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

When I first started the book, the writing style was a little different than what I usually read, and it took me a few chapters to really get into it. Once I got invested, I devoured this book. It was heart shattering and raw, and it made me want to cry, laugh, and scream all at the same time. The author did a brilliant job at pulling me in and keeping me interested. Great book, and glad I got the chance to read it!
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Wow. I definitely have mixed emotions with this book. The subject matter is extremely heavy with themes such as bullying and racism. Subjects that I believe must be written about. Talked about. I like where the author was headed. I loved how unique the dialogue was. The story is written in the style of a diary or letter from the main character to her (missing) boyfriend. There's a feeling of dread and longing throughout the novel. Enough that I stuck with it.

..unfortunately, I did not enjoy the writing. This is probably more of a "me-problem" than anything else. No matter how great a story's message, the writing must pull me in. I felt that reading it was more of a chore than pleasure. For instance...

Her hair is pulled into a messy ponytail, and she's not wearing make up. Looks pretty harsh. Just saying.

He was missing a tooth but he wasn’t homeless or anything, he just randomly didn’t have a tooth.

I'm sorry, no. I can't...

The ending is such a gut punch. I expected the outcome...not really the events that led up to it. But even then, I wasn't totally shocked. There was enough mystery and unknown that kept me reading until the end, because Where is Chris?! and What the hell happened to him??

My final reaction is this..I loved the plot and diversity within the story's themes. Everything about this book is so heartbreaking and really pursues the feeling of helplessness and loneliness...but I do feel that the characters and writing could have been more developed.

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This Is Not a Love Letter has a unique premise that has a teenage girl Jessie keeping a journal of entries written to her boyfriend Chris who has gone missing. He would write her a love letter every week of their relationship. This is a way for Jessie to cope with her feelings and understand why Chris went missing. Themes of racism, suicide & bullying are present. If you're looking for a YA contemporary dealing with heavier topics with a bit of romance and mystery mixed in, this is a good one to check out.
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First, the required stuff: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

Ok, now that that's over with. I loved this book! It was so riveting. If I'm being totally honest, I wasn't expecting much - I've been off YA for a while now and so by the time I needed to start reading it, I was not really looking forward to it at all, thinking it was going to be your average girl/boy YA love drama. I was so, so wrong.

This Is Not A Love Letter is a cross between The Girl on the Train and Me Before You. For real. It's all about these two teenagers - Jesse and Chris. Jesse is basically poor white trash with a hoarder mother and Chris is the local star baseball player with a bright future and unlimited potential.  They live in a small, very white, economically depressed paper mill town in the Pacific Northwest. And Chris is black.

Chris and Jesse are in love but Jesse is worried she's going to hold Chris back so she tells him she wants a one week break. She wants for them to both gain some perspective and figure out what they'll do next year when Chris goes off to college and she stays behind to work for a year. Chris takes it badly and then disappears. Jesse is convinced he's been jumped or worse but can't seem to rally support at first. Most people want to believe he's just run off for a few days.

It's hard to describe much of this book without giving a lot away. Just know that it's super fast-paced and that I could not put it down. I started and finished it in about 12 hours (and 7 of those hours were spent sleeping). I started it late one night before bed and read until I fell asleep. Then I grabbed it and finished it as soon as I woke up. OK, as soon as I woke up, fed and changed the baby, and found an activity to keep her occupied for the hour or so it took me to finish. Point is - block off some time because once this one gets started, you won't want to put it down.

I really liked and appreciated how smart this book was. I'm impressed by Kim Purcell's writing and I will definitely keep her on my list of authors to watch. I also think this one would make a great movie, so let's get on that Hollywood!
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Chris and Jessie are high school sweethearts. It’s almost graduation time and time to make some big, scary decisions about their relationship post graduation. They see their futures differently which has caused much conflict. Jessie wants a one week break to gain perspective. But at the beginning of the break, not break up, Chris  mysteriously vanishes after going out for a routine nightly run. 

The police think he's run away, but Jessie doesn't believe it. Chris is popular, intelligent, good-looking, and about to head off to North Carolina State University  on a full-ride baseball scholarship. So what happened to Chris? Did he get jumped? Chris is one of the only black kids in a depressed paper mill town, and Jessie is terrified of what might have happened, especially given the fact that he had been jumped recently  while running. Did he go back to Brooklyn to live with his dad? Did he fall? There are many theories, but no clues.

The premise behind the title is that, Every Friday since they started dating, Chris has written Jessie a love letter. Now Jessie is writing Chris a letter of her own to tell him everything that's happening while he's gone. As Jessie searches for answers, she must face her fears, her guilt, and a past more complicated than she would like to admit.

Jessie was a character that I could relate to. She had her flaws but strengths as well. Her hope to find Chris safe, became my hope. The mystery behind Chris’ disappearance is also well done. While the author writes well-placed clues, I could not predict the fate of Chris, until revealed by the writer.

As I finished this book, I had a lot to think about. I can’t say too much because I don’t want to give away the end, but I think this is a very good book with a powerful message at the end. If you are a sensitive reader, this may be a little heavy.
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When Jessie decides to take a week break from her boyfriend, Chris, he disappears. She is desperate to find him and never let him go. As the search progresses it transforms into a search of potentially finding a body instead of finding where he ran to. Jessie believes that a rival basketball team hurt Chris because of his race and will stop at nothing to prove it. 

I found that my favorite character in this story, Chris, was the one least present in the actual story. I thought the author attempted to address too many issues, which left the story feeling undeveloped. I wish the red herring, wasn't a red herring and was real, it would make the story more compelling. I was not a fan of the characterization of Jessie's mother, though I don't know if it was because of Jessie's own feelings about her hoarding overweight mother or the depiction.
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Jessie gives herself one week to get some perspective before she graduates. Decisions to be made with her boyfriend Chris about their future.

Then Chris disappears.

The police think he's run away. Jessie thinks otherwise. As the police are spurred to action to search for Chris, Jessie speaks up about all the harassment he faced and kept quiet about. But there are people in the town not happy about that, and soon they smear his character and Jessie receives death threats.

Every Friday Chris wrote her a love letter. Now she is writing one for him. As she searches for him, she has to face her guilt, fears, and a complicated past.

This book is like a lesson on that saying "never go to bed angry". The beginning is absolutely gut-wrenching. This is honestly one of the saddest books I've ever read. Definitely gets bonus points for being a more diverse read as well as focusing on mental illness.

The book is formatted to look like journal entries or letters that Jessie is writing to Chris to keep him informed on what is going on while he is gone. Fans of 13 Reasons Why will definitely enjoy this book. Just be prepared with a few boxes of tissues and a large amount of chocolate. Like the really unhealthy extremely sugary chocolate.
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Jessie and Chris were on a break. Just one week, so Jessie could get some perspective, then they could make all the big decisions looming with graduation. Jessie just needed a little bit of time to think.

Then Chris disappears on a run by the river, on the same path where, a few weeks before, he was beaten up by some guys from a rival high school. Chris is popular. He’s good looking. And he’s black, a rarity in their small, paper mill town. 

When the police decide Chris ran away, Jessie speaks up, and voices her fears that Chris’s disappearance is race-related. She’s terrified of what might have happened to Chris, but she’s not prepared for the threats she receives.

Chris has written Jessie a love letter every Friday since they started dating, now it’s her turn to write him, telling him everything that’s happening while he’s gone, what she’s afraid of, and some truths she’s kept hidden.

I’m just going to say it straight out:  this book almost broke me. I’m not sure if it was the situation, or if I just identified with Jessie that strongly, but I was in tears (sobs) by the time I finished reading this. Straight through, in one sitting, I might add. Jessie, while not always rational or sensible, made sense to me. She seemed real. Her relationship with Chris, which she remembers in detail while he’s missing, was charming and inspiring. Their town has problems, and sometimes the issues were ugly and hurtful, but they were always truthful. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
(Galley provided by Disney Book Group in exchange for an honest review.)
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Sorry for the inconvenience but I  have have lost interest in the concept. Not what I expected.
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I've been meaning to write this review for a few days and since we are in the middle of NC snowpocalypse 2018, I have the time.  
I acquired this book through NetGalley.  The premise-the girl writing to her missing boyfriend-though it's not a love letter-sounded interesting enough.  And the book itself, was paced well.  I especially liked the shorter chapters that allowed me to stop and pick it back up.  Unfortunately, after finishing this book just a few days ago, I can't really remember a lot that I really enjoyed about the book.  I think Jessie's attitude threw me a bit, and perhaps that's telling me that I need to start moving on from young adult contemporary-because she did act like teenager girls I remember.  But I couldn't really relate to her.  Her optimism that her boyfriend (whose name I cannot remember now) would be found didn't really seem real.  In the end, I was sad about what happened-and that Jessie hadn't seen it coming after dating this guy for the better part of a year-but was left with a "Oh, well" kind of feeling.
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First of all, I really liked the author’s writing style. The story was told in Jessie’s POV, focusing on the current situation of her boyfriend Chris missing. But it also used a lot of flashbacks to expand on their relationship, all their ups and downs, and how it might have related to the present. It made the story a lot more interesting than if it were written in a chronological manner. Not only did readers get to learn more about Jessie and Chris, but the flashbacks also served as a way to extend the story. In my opinion, the story would have been either finished much more quickly or stretched out if the flashbacks weren’t embedded  in the story.

Then there were the characters. To be honest, I actually liked how the author portrayed the characters within the novel. They were realistic with a capital R. You may not agree with everything they say or do, but that’s what make them the round characters they are. The point is that you understand these character’s motives and empathize with them, which I did for almost all of the characters (there were just a few characters that I didn’t empathize with). The only character that I didn’t get a sense of that roundness from was Tamara, who filled the role of mean girl for the novel. The author also used these characters to talk about relevant issues regarding racial prejudice, stereotyping, bullying and mental illness.

Overall, I thought that This is Not a Love Letter by Kim Purcell was a pretty good read. I’d recommend it to anyone wanting to read something within the realm of mystery.
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I honestly loved this book. I am currently reading another book titled The Hate U Give and these books are similar, yet different. They say never to judge a book by its cover, but I am a culprit of this. I honestly was like this is another silly teen book until I started reading it and I was hooked from start to finish.
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This Is Not A Love Letter was a great way to start off my year! I love mysteries. This book started the year off with a bang.

The book starts off with Chris already missing. He and Jessie are taking a “break” for one week to gain some perspective on their futures and their relationship. This was, of course, Jessie's idea. Chris wanted nothing to do with it. So, naturally, when Chris goes missing, Jessie thinks she may have scared him off by pushing him away.

When we first learn Chris is missing, Jessie has a theory immediately. Some kids from another school beat him up a few weeks prior and she is worried they may have done it again, only taken it much further. We follow Jessie throughout the investigation and see her constantly go back to these guys. Josh, Chris' best friend, has another theory. What if Chris jumped into the quarry? What if he took his own life? There are some signs pointing toward depression and possible suicide, but Jessie refuses to even think it.
“Please don't be in the river.”

“You're terrified of the river. I'm terrified of fire. You think I'd light myself on fire?”
Let's talk about characters.

Jessie is such a wonderful character. I adore her for the fact that she is realistic. She isn't perfectly beautiful and she isn't popular and doesn't have the perfect family. She also isn't a complete screw-up who deals with her pain via drugs or drinking. She is just a girl who wants to know what happened to her missing boyfriend. She is missing a father figure in her life. Her mother is a hoarder and extremely obese; she barely leaves her bedroom. Jessie struggles to help take care of the home along with going to school and applying to colleges. She is a good person but has her flaws—such as her temper, which we witness a few times in the story.

Chris is not present in the book in the current sense, but as Jessie narrates the story (directly to Chris, as this book is sort of one, long letter to Chris from Jessie) she reminiscences, if you will, about past moments with Chris. This was a great way for the reader to get to know Chris and how amazing he was. He was a stand-up kind of guy. He didn't like fighting and violence. He was honest, kind, and loving. He was part of a Jehovah's Witness family, which he struggled with a bit, and had a younger sister who adored him. Chris' family was pretty close with Jessie, so we see quite a bit of them in the book. I think the author did a great job of showing us who Chris was so that we could really feel how sad it was that he was missing.

The mystery was done very well. I was questioning throughout the book who may have hurt Chris or taken him, or possibly what he had done himself, whether it be leave town or commit suicide. The book pointed in a few different directions, but in a good way. It wasn't messy or confusing, but very suspenseful.

This Is Not A Love Letter could definitely be considered a diverse book. There is a “gay-best-friend” type of character. Jessie works as a lifeguard at a local swimming pool and meets him there. He's close to her and painted in a good light. I enjoyed his character and he plays a significant part in the book. Jessie and Chris are also in an interracial relationship (Jessie being white, Chris being black). They struggle with this slightly, as some of their peers are judgemental. Chris struggles alone with his race as well. This being why those guys beat him up prior to the story beginning. They are privileged white boys and didn't like that a black kid was being scouted for a college team, etc.
“I don't blame you for wanting to leave.

This town was built on racism...”
It is also rare to see a Jehovah's Witness family in YA (correct me if I am wrong). I think people assume they are all crazy, but this book shed a little light on how they actually think. It wasn't a highlight, but just a small hint of it. I think each of these diverse issues were written well and handled respectfully. 

The only real con I had was some of the grammar. I think the author tried to show how Jessie was a “lower-class” girl and didn't speak “properly” at times. For example, instead of saying “I have to go” she would say “I got to go” (I gotta go wouldn't have bugged me as much)... I honestly just found it to be an annoyance more than anything. Not a big deal, but worth mentioning.

Overall, this book was great! I think the story is relevant and I think the author really thought out the plot and executed it to perfection. I enjoyed the characters and their dynamics. I enjoyed the mystery and suspense. I think it was an all-around great read.

What happened to Chris, though? I won't spoil it, but you should check out the book to see for yourself! :)
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Sweet but very sad YA. Jessie keeps a journal when her boyfriend, Chris, is missing. The journal is written as a long letter to Chris as Jessie tries to unravel what may have happened to Chris and how to handle her feelings. Especially in light of the fact that the two of them were “on a break” and their last interactions were not the best. Very well done and nuanced. Can’t say more without risking spoilers, but it’s a don’t miss YA for 2018!
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Jessie wants a one week break from her boyfriend Chris.  The he ends up vanishing.  Since they started dating, Chris has written her a love letter every week.  This book is a note that she writes to him as she tries to find him.  We get a history of their relationship and discover why she wanted the break.  There’s some racial issues (she’s Caucasian, Chris is African-American) and mental illness issues addressed (hoarding, depression). This was a decent YA read, but a bit heavy.  I just wish that more time was spent addressing some of the serious issues touched upon (don’t want to go into more detail and reveal spoilers!).
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I was so hoping that this book would be more than it ended up being.  The topic was great as was the synopsis of the book.  I wanted to know so much more about the characters, about dealing with racism and mental illness but I got bogged down in the writing style.

Quite honestly I got confused and found the book hard to follow, there was a lot of back and forth with regarding to time and events.  The descriptors were at time too detailed and too strange.  The book just didn’t resonate with me and I admit I gave up about 30% of the way through it.  I just couldn’t make myself read any more.  

Obviously this is just one persons opinion and we all know that whatever book didn’t do it for me, may well be your favorite!  I received a copy of This is Not a Love Letter through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks to Disney-Hyperion and Kim Purcell for the opportunity.
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This book never once made me smile, it never once made me feel good feelings, it was an all-over the place mess. Just the format of her writing a letter to her missing boyfriend really didn't work, especially in the beginning. She told all the back story of their relationship, he knows, he was there, MAYBE it would have been better if it had been in journal/diary format. Even a change of format could not have helped save this book for me, none of the characters were truly likable.
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I give This is Not A Love Letter a 4.75/5 stars. 
This review may contain some spoilers, be advised. Also note: This book contains reference to suicide, depression, mental illness, and self harm. Be advised for potential triggers. I absolutely loved This is Not A Love Letter, at first it was a little hard to get into but once I got to when he went missing I couldn't put it down. I was really hoping he would be okay, I kept believing every time Jessie did but in the end evidence pointed to him being dead. This book 100% whole heartedly hit me in the feels.
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