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Monday, November 20, 2017

Book Review: This Is Not A Love Letter by Kim Purcell

This Is Not A Love Letter by Kim Purcell 
Genre: Young Adult (Contemporary/Mystery)
Date Published: June 1, 2010
Expected Publication: January 30, 2018
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One week. That's all Jessie said. A one-week break to get some perspective before graduation, before she and her boyfriend, Chris, would have to make all the big, scary decisions about their future--decisions they had been fighting about for weeks.

Then, Chris vanishes. The police think he's run away, but Jessie doesn't believe it. Chris is popular and good-looking, about to head off to college on a full-ride baseball scholarship. And he disappeared while going for a run along the river--the same place where some boys from the rival high school beat him up just three weeks ago. Chris is one of the only black kids in a depressed paper mill town, and Jessie is terrified of what might have happened.

As the police are spurred to reluctant action, Jessie speaks up about the harassment Chris kept quiet about and the danger he could be in. But there are people in Jessie's town who don't like the story she tells, who are infuriated by the idea that a boy like Chris would be a target of violence. They smear Chris’s character and Jessie begins receiving frightening threats.

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.

This is Not a Love Letter by Kim Purcell brings out many emotions, and I'm still deciding how I feel. I was impatient through the beginning. The story is told from inside the head of Jessie. It's a running monologue of everything she is saying, doing, and feeling. This is good and bad, as it became very tedious at times, but provided much needed info and insight.  

I began to see Jessie's mental ramblings as something that could be cathartic to her as a person, all of us readers, and maybe even the writer herself. Jesse is telling Chris everything. Everything she hasn't told him up until now that she feels he should know. Apologies, confessions, explanations, stories, etc. She says it's not a love letter. Personally, I think she's in denial about that. To me, whether she's actually writing it or talking it all out in her head, a love letter of sorts is exactly what it felt like. I wondered if maybe that was the author's purpose for writing such a story, because that kind of catharsis makes complete sense, especially when you don't know if you're ever going to see the person again. It's freeing and healing. 

The second half and, most importantly, the ending was very well done. I grew very attached to Jessie, and Chris, and many of the other characters. I was rooting for them. By the end, I was crying so hard, my husband got concerned. I have to say, with everything we knew and didn't know through the progression of this story, I was still expecting a different ending. "Hoping" for a different ending would be the better word, I think. When you read this, have a box of tissues handy.

The ARC of This Is Not A Love Letter by Kim Purcell was kindly provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley for review. The opinions are my own.

I'm a writer, a mom and a daydreamer, and I like hot tea, wild dancing, sunsets, and kindness.

To learn more about Kim Purcell and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on Goodreads, FacebookMedium, and Twitter.

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