This Is Not a Love Letter

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Jan 2018

Member Reviews

This is not a love letter by Kim Purcell was surprising. It’s about a boy, Chris,
that goes missing and the character evolution of Jessie, his girlfriend, in form of a letter. I really enjoyed it, it kept my heart racing and aching. They are some trigger warnings for mental illnesses and self-arm. Thank you for the free ebook copy.
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TW: depression, suicide, racism

This is Not a Love Letter discusses difficult topics such as depression, suicide, and racism as you can see by the trigger warning I have provided. This is not a cute contemporary. If you are looking for something light-hearted, then I do not suggest picking up this book. I went through a whirlwind of emotions while reading this book. I was angry, sad, and very anxious while reading. It definitely was a book that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. My hands were sweaty, my heart was racing, and I was breathing erratically. If you do not handle difficult topics well, I definitely would not pick this one up.

Jessie wakes up one morning to pounding on her door. She goes out to find her boyfriend’s best friend Josh outside. He looks terrible; like he hasn’t slept all night. He asks her if she’s heard anything from Chris (her boyfriend.) No, she hasn’t heard a thing. This is when she finds out the devastating news–her boyfriend has been missing since the night before. No one has seen or heard from him since he went for a run.

The book is set up in a unique way. It is written as a series of letters from Jessie to Chris. She is not writing a love letter like he always did for her; she is writing an account of everything that has happened since he has gone missing. At first it was a little difficult to grasp how the book was written, but after a few pages I got the hang of it. I ended up really liking how the book was written as letters by the end.

I didn’t know that I could fall in love with a character that never even speaks, but I did. I felt every emotion that Jessie portrayed to Chris in her letters to him. I fell in love with him just as she did. Reading these letters addressed to a missing person that you can tell she is utterly in love with just broke me. I found myself crying throughout the book multiple times. This was not an easy book to read. I found myself being even more thankful that no one important in my life has ever gone missing. This book was one hundred percent anxiety-inducing. I was going through every emotion that Jessie was as I read her letters.

As I mentioned above, this book explores difficult topics such as depression, suicide, and racism. The depression and suicide part wasn’t really explored too much, just mentioned here and there but never really went into too much detail. I would have liked to see more of the mental health topic. The racism part however, was a huge part of the book. I thought Kim Purcell did a really great job of showing how blacks are discriminated against for no reason at all besides the color of their skin. I really loved that this topic was talked about so much throughout this book. She did a great job at portraying the racism that is found in predominantly white communities.

I just want to add in that this story is personal to the author. At the end of the book she wrote a note saying that she herself has been through a similar situation where a close friend of hers had gone missing. She said the emotions she put into this book were real. I could definitely feel them.

I really loved this book even though it was difficult to read. I just could not put it down. I wanted to know what happened to Chris immediately. I am rating this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and Kim Purcell for the advanced copy of this book in return for an honest review.
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First off, this book didn't start how I was expecting it to. That's not necessarily meant in a bad way - I just didn't expect action to be happening right from the start. There wasn't a whole lot of backstory, but I don't think that was bad. 

There's a few grammatical errors throughout the story (as to be expected, considering this isn't even the final copy of the book), and sometimes it was distracting, but I didn't find it super frustrating or anything like that. Just some minor spelling errors and punctuation errors that could easily be fixed. "Baby" was used way too repetitively in this book, and it started to get really annoying. It might just be annoying to me because I'm not a huge pet-name person, but it doesn't usually bother me in books unless it is used way too much. Some chapters also had awkward writing, which made it hard to read at times.

One thing that I really liked about this story was the inclusion of Steph. She seems like a really great friend - someone I would love to be friends with in real life. She's really nice, supportive, and overall just a really enhancing character in this book. My only complaint would be to include her more, as she seems to only pop in here and there while Jessie is just sort of on her own. And the scenes that include Steph are usually really short as well, so I feel like I'm missing parts of her. Chris seems like a really nice guy; not like any guy I've ever met myself. I think he might be a little unrealistically nice, considering the fact that I can't name a single guy who is like him that I've met in my life. Maybe that's just from my own personal experience, though - there very well could be someone as nice as him out there. 

Jessie was a very interesting character and it was really nice to have someone as relatable as her in the book. I can see me in her at some points in the book, and as all of you readers know, it is really refreshing when you relate to a character in the book you're reading. She's really funny, cares about nature, and wants to travel. The only few issues I had with her is that she seems to be a little prejudiced against POC - she makes comments that I don't really like and you'd think as someone who is dating a POC, she would be a little more sensitive. I'm not sure if this was unintentional or not, but it ground my gears just a bit. She also seems to think about sex a whole lot for someone who has just lost her boyfriend and isn't sure if (or when) he is coming back. I'm quite certain that if I was in a situation like that, I wouldn't have been so concerned with the sex aspect of my life and would have been more worried about finding my boyfriend.

Something that I noticed is that all of the characters seem to listen to really old music. While I myself listen to old music from time to time, I also listen to other music. I think it would be more realistic if there were other songs that weren't as old/less common included in this story as well. To me, it was just odd to see a group of teenagers that only listened to older music. 

While this book does have diverse rep (a POC character and someone with a mental illness), I felt like it really fell flat when it came to Jessie's mother. She is a hoarder, and it doesn't really touch on that a whole lot in the book. When did this happen, and why? It explains that she wasn't like that when Jessie was young, but it doesn't mention how it all came about. I wish it would have gone more in depth about this, as I didn't really feel a connection to Jessie's mother at all. 

Overall, this book wasn't bad. Not my favorite, but I didn't think at any point to "dnf" it. There were some points in the book that I really enjoyed reading it, and at other points I was just a little bored. The ending was very unsatisfying for me because part of it was just a little unrealistic, but I won't go into detail about that as I would like to make this a spoiler-free review. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes stories with a little bit of mystery in them, as that aspect was definitely prominent.
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I gave this book 4 stars. It was a rush and had it’s ups and downs. Very exhilarating. 

I felt a little disappointed with the ending of this book. I was so engaged for three fourths and then we got to the end and I was just sad. This is not a happy ending book and I didn’t feel like much was really resolved. It just goes on long enough to make us cry. 

This book definitely delivered with the mystery element. There were so many different angles to consider, each equally probable. I think the author did an amazing job of that. Finding out what really happened was a bit of a downer, but I don’t think the book was long enough to go with the other option.

I liked that there was talk about how damaging racism is. I’ve noticed that a lot of YA won’t touch the subject unless that’s the entire plot line. It’s a controversial topic but it must be talked about.

I obviously share a first name with the protagonist and to me that was important. I was constantly holding her up to very high standards. You see, I haven’t liked any of the protagonists named Jessie that I’ve read about in the past because I hold them to the highest standards. I need to be able to relate to them and generally like them. I assume that’s how it is with anyone who shares a name with a protagonist. I am happy to say she lived up to my standards. She is Jessie approved.

Overall, although I was unimpressed by the ending, I would definitely suggest giving this one a read.
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This thriller of a YA romance unfolds through a mix of flashbacks and present day moments during the search for a missing teen boy.  It is told through "letters" that Jessie is writing to her boyfriend, Chris, who is missing. They are about to graduate from a high school and were on a week long "break" initiated by Jessie - and not wanted by Chris. The author pieces out info about each character so that I kept changing my mind about what happened to Chris - Was he taken or killed by the town bullies who didn't like that a new black kid stole their shot at a college sports scholarship? Did he run away on his own in his anger at Jessie? Is he hurt and lost in the woods?  I liked the action and the mystery of the plot, but I found the letter writing technique took me longer to get invested in the characters and all of their back stories.  I'd recommend it to teens who like "sad" books with intrigue and relationship drama.
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3.5 

This book is a heavy one so be warned going into it. The author brought in some rough topics such as mental health and racism.

The story focuses on the main character Jessie who is writing journal entries to her boyfriend Chris who has gone missing. I enjoyed this book and coming to the conclusion I had to hold back the tears.

I believe the downfall of the book was some parts dragging while others were to short. I was into the book and wanted to see how everything unraveled, however, it wasn’t a book that was hard to put down.

Thank you Netgalley and the publishers for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Although the title foreshadows that this will not be a romantic story, I went into this novel expecting a contemporary romance - but it hit so much harder than that. There are so many important themes covered in this novel, including but not limited to; racism, mental disorders, family dynamic, and friendship. I felt as though each of these was dealt with head-on and compassionately, however at times I felt that it was taking over the overall suspense of the novel. 

Overall, I thought this was a very powerful, painful, and thought-provoking read. I felt Jessie’s pain, and her manic episodes wondering what happened to Chris, and she brought so much life and energy (both positive and negative) into her letters. I was on the edge of my seat, and couldn’t put this novel down until I knew what happened. It is such a realistic story that I think is able to reach all reader’s through it’s biggest question of “what could I have done differently?”
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THIS. BOOK. IS. AMAZING. Not only did this book have me on the edge of my seat and car seat, but I stayed up so long. The author also put in her notes that she also experienced the same thing as Jessie, the main character, went through and it touched my heart. The author also handled suicide/police investigations very seriously. I myself never had to deal with the police in a situation like this but it did make me upset and made me realize how once you turn 18 everything is different. I can relate this to THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas because it does deal with racism. If you loved that, I highly recommend this book.
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I really enjoyed this book about a high school girl searching for her missing boyfriend.  Though there were a few moments that didn't feel terribly authentic (like when she does a little breaking and entering looking for his phone), I think that many students would identify with the story.  I also think that they will appreciate the many issues going on throughout the story- race, sexuality, mental illness, and poverty.
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I don't know if I expected something different or what, but this book just didn't grab me like I had hoped it would.  The main character seemed a bit self centered, and it just didn't work for me.
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The cover of this book is honestly so beautiful. And fitting too. And just from reading the premise, I knew this book would be a heart-breaker. The story is written like a letter, from Jessie to Chris. A week before graduation, Jessie told Chris they should go on a break, to "get some perspective" on their future. But then, Chris disappears, and Jessie remembers the three boys from the rival high school that beat Chris up three weeks ago. She's determined to prove that they had something to do with Chris' disappearance. But Chris is one of the black kids where they live, and people refuse to believe that his skin color could be part of the story. And yet, Jessie is also missing pieces - and the truth is not too easy to process.

I love the plot. A lot. I liked the amount of diversity in social issues that were addressed: racism, mental illness, and class imbalance all played a part in this story, and I felt like the intersectionality of these different issues really reflected the real world in a much more realistic manner. I'm not too sure what I feel about the ending, to be honest, as the story went in a direction I expected but didn't like too much.

I felt like some of the side characters could have been developed more, as some of them seemed to just be there to progress the plot forwards by providing information or adding to Jessie's emotional conflict. In fact, though we never saw much of Chris, I felt like I learned about his personality and his struggles simply through context and Jessie's memories; therefore, he was my probably my favorite character just because he was so complex. Because I liked him so much, I felt myself becoming more and more involved in the search for Chris.

I didn't have a problem with the writing style and how a lot of it used "you", as in Chris. I did get a little tired of lengthy narrations and found myself skimming. Still, there were some really beautiful lines that are testimonies to how great of a writer Kim Purecll is.

Overall, I'd still definitely recommend this to people to read, as I feel like it addresses a lot of important issues in today's society in a very extreme and eye-0pening way. Either way, I feel like this is a story that'll leave you thinking and maybe even shedding a few tears.
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Jessie is dreading graduation and all of the decisions that will need to be made.  This is why she tells her boyfriend, Chris, that they need to take a one week break from their relationship.  She doesn’t want a break up … just a break.  Then Chris disappears and she begins questioning all of the things she thought she knew about him.  Is he dead or alive?  Did he willing leave their small town or is there a murderer in their midst?

This Is Not a Love Letter is a stand-alone mystery written in the form of a series of letters.  Every week, Chris had written Jessie a love letter.  Now, Jessie is using this same outlet to let Christ know how she feels and what is going on around her.  Readers will feel like they are helping Jessie process her fears and guilt as she begins to unravel the truth behind Chris’s disappearance.  A good read but not a satisfactory ending.
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To keep both her heart and her mind from shattering, after Chris vanished, Jessie kept a running letter to him in her mind and in her heart. She told of her secrets, times they shared, emotions they shared and what she has been left with since he disappeared.

THIS IS NOT A LOVE LETTER is a labor of love, of need, a declarations of truths and emotions, hopes, fears and the guilt a seventeen-year-old girl feels for “not knowing.” It is Jessie’s way to find answers, to feel connected to Chris, to hang on to the hope that their love will bring him home. It is also her punishment, her catharsis and her own way of clarifying who they were and what they had. It is her way of responding to the love letters Chris gave her every day.

Kim Purcell has written a powerful story of loss and confusion and pain. She has taken an interracial teenage love story and made it all about the truths of small-minded intolerance, big-hearted acceptance and how love is colorblind. You will be drawn into their story, their relationship, Jessie’s secrets and finally into the secrets Chris withheld.

Beautiful, dark and emotionally gripping, Kim Purcell has penned a tale of coming of age and clarity, all while the reality of life continued in search of the boy with a bright future who went out running one night and never returned. If this isn't a love letter, nothing is...truly a shining gem that should be read by all ages.

I received a complimentary ARC edition from Disney-Hyperion.

Publisher: Disney Hyperion (January 30, 2018)
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Genre: YA Fiction |
Print Length: 368 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
For Reviews & More: http://tometender.blogspot.com
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This book got to me. I was bawling my eyes out because the book dealt with depression and racism. These topics are important to deal with, and i found the story hard to read because i felt Jessie's emotions. I'm glad to have read such a book and get these feelings from the story.
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I loved this book. I liked the unique format of Jessie writing a letter to her missing boyfriend. I liked the way flashbacks were used to fill in missing spots. But I mostly liked getting so deep into Jessie’s thoughts and emotions. There were a few things that drove it down to a four star for me but they are definite spoilers.
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Did not finish. :(
I'm sorry, I did not finish this book. The amount of vulgar language in the book makes it just not for me. I was so intrigued by the mystery, by the diversity in the book and the way the author was handling a racially charged relationship. Loved all that, and if not for the language I would have loved to continue. Thank you for the opportunity!
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I received this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book is written as a letter from Jessie to her on-a-break, not broken up boyfriend, Chris. Chris has gone missing and she chronicles everything that happening since she last saw him. She retraces her steps, his steps, anyone's steps who has seen Chris recently. She has no idea where he is. 

This book is heavy. It has a lot of heavy topics, but topics that need to be discussed. It's very relevant to real life. Jessie's letters bounce back and forth from "this is going on" to "remember that time." She struggles with guilt and what ifs and why won't these people listen to me or try harder to find Chris. 

Throughout the book I found myself completely engaged with the mystery surrounding Chris. I wanted answers and was getting anxious about whether I would get them by the time the book was finished. 

I really enjoyed how real the characters were. Jessie was a strong, tough girl but also had her moments of devastation. It was nice to see both sides.
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Rating: 2.5 out of 5

I wanted to love this and there were definitely parts that I did love, but there was something that didn’t fully connect for me. I read The Female of the Species by Mandy McGinnis and in some ways this reminded me of that, but I think the execution wasn’t quite as on point here. They are particularly similar in the idea of ‘violence begets violence’ being a major theme, but something felt off to me. 

Some of my issue may have been that I had a hard time connecting with Jessie. In some of the flashbacks of her relationship with Chris it felt less like he suffered from depression and it came off as more of an abusive/manipulative relationship. Jessie talks about his jealousy, particularly the last couple months and a few of their conversations have manipulative language in them. I wish I’d gotten a view of Chris from outside Jessie’s mind, but the book is told first person in ongoing journal entries to Chris detailing what has happened while he’s been gone. Chris seemed a little too perfect and I think a part of that was Jessie’s rosy tinted view of him. We see some of his flaws by the end of the book such as his depression and the struggle to ignore and hide it, but I felt like even that could have been explored even further. 

I even wanted Dave Johnson as a character to be explored more fully. Dave is billed as the jealous and racist team mate of Chris and has more than enough motive and desire to get Chris out of the way of his dreams, so naturally he is a suspect in his disappearance. I felt like we got a fairly one dimensional view of Dave. We are given the “evil” side of him and yet get flashes of a better side, such as a doting uncle. It would have been more interesting to see a more layered view of him as people are rarely all evil. Now, Dave does some really awful and inexcusable things, and he devolves further into the “villain” role and I would have liked to see some guilt or torment over his role in things. 

One character I liked and wish had gotten a slightly bigger role was Josh. We get glimpses of Josh, but even he and Jessie don’t talk or bond as much as I wanted them to. We never get to know Josh as a person more than left-behind-best-friend of Chris. They did form a friendship by the end, but I was looking for a little more of that.

I did find the topic of hoarding particularly interesting. It was fascinating to see how it affected Jessie from a young age to the brink of adulthood. One particularly heartbreaking passage dealt with the fear of anyone finding out and Jessie being taken away from her mother so no one could ever see their home or know what was happening. That's quite the burden to put on a child.

This one definitely gave me a lot of think about, but in the end I felt a little underwhelmed. I think I wanted a different conversation about mental illness, so this might be more of a personal preference than anything else.
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This is Not a Love Letter is a raw, compelling story. It is part mystery, part diary, part social commentary and part honest reflection on teen relationships and friendships. The book grabs readers from the beginning and keeps you engaged until the very last page. Jessie and Chris are in love but are also on a break - just for one week - as they prepare to finish high school and figure out what comes next in their lives. When Chris goes missing, the town and the local police believe he simply ran away but Jessie fears that something bad happened. The pacing of the search of Chris and its effect on Jessie, their friends and the town is very well written. The book also touches on many current social issues including mental health, family dysfunction and racism. A great read - for teens and adults.
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Written in the style of a letter to her  boyfriend (not her ex, they were just on a break) this book follows the days following the disappearance of Chris

There is a hint of mystery, racial tensions, and confusion about what really happened working its way through this story, and while I found it interesting and entertaining I didn't feel like it was a new or different story. While reading I found myself thinking of similar stories I had read and nothing caught me by surprise.

This was a good read, but not essential or groundbreaking.
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