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We Contain Multitudes

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe meets I'll Give You the Sun in an exhilarating and emotional novel about the growing relationship between two teen boys, told through the letters they write to one another. Jonathan Hopkirk and Adam "Kurl" Kurlansky are partnered in English class, writing letters to one another in a weekly pen pal assignment. With each letter, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe meets I'll Give You the Sun in an exhilarating and emotional novel about the growing relationship between two teen boys, told through the letters they write to one another. Jonathan Hopkirk and Adam "Kurl" Kurlansky are partnered in English class, writing letters to one another in a weekly pen pal assignment. With each letter, the two begin to develop a friendship that eventually grows into love. But with homophobia, bullying, and devastating family secrets, Jonathan and Kurl struggle to overcome their conflicts and hold onto their relationship...and each other. This rare and special novel celebrates love and life with engaging characters and stunning language, making it perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson, Nina LaCour, and David Levithan.


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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe meets I'll Give You the Sun in an exhilarating and emotional novel about the growing relationship between two teen boys, told through the letters they write to one another. Jonathan Hopkirk and Adam "Kurl" Kurlansky are partnered in English class, writing letters to one another in a weekly pen pal assignment. With each letter, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe meets I'll Give You the Sun in an exhilarating and emotional novel about the growing relationship between two teen boys, told through the letters they write to one another. Jonathan Hopkirk and Adam "Kurl" Kurlansky are partnered in English class, writing letters to one another in a weekly pen pal assignment. With each letter, the two begin to develop a friendship that eventually grows into love. But with homophobia, bullying, and devastating family secrets, Jonathan and Kurl struggle to overcome their conflicts and hold onto their relationship...and each other. This rare and special novel celebrates love and life with engaging characters and stunning language, making it perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson, Nina LaCour, and David Levithan.

30 review for We Contain Multitudes

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kai

    2019 is the first year where I think that I won't be able to keep up with all the promising lgbt+ releases and that makes me want to cry

  2. 5 out of 5

    Larry H

    This book, to borrow a phrase from one of the main characters, utterly undid me. We Contain Multitudes was exactly what I hoped it would be: a gorgeously moving, beautifully told, thought-provoking story of friendship, love, truth, and secrets. I read most of this on a plane ride and it was the first of two books I read that had me in tears, which is always a condition I try to avoid on airplanes!! Adam "Kurl" Kurlansky is a football player repeating his senior year of high school, a quiet gi This book, to borrow a phrase from one of the main characters, utterly undid me. We Contain Multitudes was exactly what I hoped it would be: a gorgeously moving, beautifully told, thought-provoking story of friendship, love, truth, and secrets. I read most of this on a plane ride and it was the first of two books I read that had me in tears, which is always a condition I try to avoid on airplanes!! Adam "Kurl" Kurlansky is a football player repeating his senior year of high school, a quiet giant with a bit of a penchant for fighting. As part of an assignment for English class, he is paired with Jonathan Hopkirk, a quirky, fiercely intelligent sophomore with a passion for Walt Whitman's poetry, who is bullied nearly every day at school because of his sexuality and his desire to dress as if he were living in Whitman's day. Kurl and Jonathan are expected to write each other letters once a week. The two couldn't have less in common at the outset—Jonathan knows nothing about football and has formulated lots of assumptions about Kurl based on gossip from his sister and her best friend, while Kurl isn't really interested in answering Jonathan's questions, and he really doesn't understand why Jonathan would be so willing to make himself a target for bullies, why he continues to dress the way he does. Little by little, the boys' relationship begins to deepen. Both learn that there is so much more to the other than meets the eye, but each realizes that there are secrets they are keeping, secrets that could prove just how vulnerable they are. Each experiences true epiphanies about themselves and each other, but they experience a tremendous amount of pain and anguish in the process. The entire book is narrated in letters from the two boys, although in some letters they recount events in full. Sarah Henstra does such a great job creating two distinctively different writing styles for the two, and I found myself becoming as eager to read each new letter as they were waiting for the letters to arrive. We Contain Multitudes is immensely poignant, even tremendously sad at times. Both Jonathan and Kurl have so many issues to confront, some within themselves, some within their families, and some at school. The book does get a little violent at times (although not gratuitously so), so it may be difficult for some to read. But there are so many moments of sheer beauty in this story as well, I couldn't put the book down even as the story became sadder. Some of the plot may not be surprising, but there definitely were surprises to be had. Henstra is so talented, and she has created two characters that I hope we'll see again, because I want to know where they wind up and how life treated them. We Contain Multitudes is one of those absolutely beautiful books I won't soon forget. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html. You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lola

    That was an intense reading experience. A rollercoaster ride, really. A thorn to the heart and a sunrise of a thousand different colours. Let me tell you right from the start that if Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe did not work for you, you will probably hate this. If you dislike epistolary novels, you will probably hate this. If you prefer your LGBTQIA+ reads to be light and entertaining, kind of like Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, you will hate this. Actually, it will hate you be That was an intense reading experience. A rollercoaster ride, really. A thorn to the heart and a sunrise of a thousand different colours. Let me tell you right from the start that if Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe did not work for you, you will probably hate this. If you dislike epistolary novels, you will probably hate this. If you prefer your LGBTQIA+ reads to be light and entertaining, kind of like Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, you will hate this. Actually, it will hate you because this book deserves a reader who is ready for baggage and heartbreak and a hundred different conflicting emotions. It is very lyrical. Sometimes epistolary novels do not work for me because they feel dry. The writing. The characters. Especially when protagonists write letters to themselves or someone who never replies to them, like Daddy-Long-Legs (still trying to finish this one but I’m really not motivated to). This worked for me because there was a really meaningful interaction between Jo and Kurl. They write to one another, caring about how the other person feels about the other person’s letter and anticipating a reply. They write to one another with such passion and thoughtfulness. Not in the beginning, since it takes a bit of time for Jo and Kurl to trust each other, but watching their relationship develop warmed my heart. Then broke it, of course. This is one of those books that are unquestionably bittersweet. You love them but you also hate them because of what they’ve done to you. Yet you know that you are better having read them as you have learned from them and they have potentially helped you become a better person. I am ready to remember this story for the rest of my life, despite all the hurt in it. I shouldn’t scare anyone… It’s beautiful too. I read it in two sittings and that, for me, does not happen with a book that drains me completely emotionally. In conclusion, you will survive it too and see the beauty in it. Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’

  4. 4 out of 5

    may ➹

    My face when I finished this book truly looked like this: 1 and a half stars, baby!! What an honor it is to this book that it’s the first book I’ve rated under 3 stars this year!!! First of all, I want to say that this book is just written really beautifully. (This is pretty much the only pro.) I could pull so many quotes from it, and I think a lot of people could read them and think the My face when I finished this book truly looked like this: 1 and a half stars, baby!! What an honor it is to this book that it’s the first book I’ve rated under 3 stars this year!!! First of all, I want to say that this book is just written really beautifully. (This is pretty much the only pro.) I could pull so many quotes from it, and I think a lot of people could read them and think they were beautiful as well. There were some moments while I was reading where I just thought, Wow. Okay, at some sentences, because the writing was just that pretty. The whole time the band played I kept sneaking looks at you, Jo, and thinking: How could I be unhappy? I mean how could anybody be unhappy? And also: How is anybody supposed to hide happiness like this? Of course, a 15-year-old boy would not be writing that sophisticatedly. I promise you, as a teenager and writer myself, I don’t even write like that. It’s really not realistic (and very pretentious) that a 15-year-old sophomore, no matter how quirky he is for being a huge fan of Walt Whitman, would write the way he did in the book. Overall, this book is boring. I made it halfway before wanting to DNF it because I just didn’t care what happened at that point, and I know many other people also DNFed it for the same reason. But I made myself continue so I could properly review it (because I read reviews about how it got worse and wow I really should have read the reviews before I picked up the book). The letter format doesn’t help either—it made it almost impossible for me to immerse myself and feel like I was there with the characters, because it just felt very, very passive. (Not to mention how many times the characters actually are interacting in real life and then just write letters to each other recounting the exact event that they both were there for. Yeah, it’s so the reader knows what’s going on. No, it’s not realistic.) But it gets worse! Because the romance/relationship is absolutely WILD. First of all, it’s between a 15-year-old boy and an 18 year-old boy (sophomore and senior repeating the year), and it just made me really uncomfortable. Like, homeboy out here not even able to properly drive yet and he’s having sex with someone who would have been a freshman in college!!! And the way the whole relationship starts is so messed up and weird? They don’t seem to have any feelings for each other until (view spoiler)[the 18-year-old, drunk, gives a handjob to the 15-year-old, and the consent behind it all was very murky and unclear. Also, the 18-year-old had no idea he was gay yet. And also, why would you write this as the way that they start to realize they have feelings for each other?? (hide spoiler)] A word kept flashing in my head. One word, over and over, like a flashing neon sign. Lucky. I don’t know how to describe it, Jo. Lucky lucky lucky. My whole body wanted to crawl inside your whole body, just to share all this luckiness with you. Honestly, I just feel very yikes about the fact that a white, most likely straight, most likely cis woman wrote this book. Homophobia was written about a lot, which wasn’t the biggest issue for me because it wasn’t just about queer pain, and the characters weren’t only tragic gay boys. (Though the homophobic violence is pretty, well, violent.) My biggest issue was that she wrote about a gay boy’s pain by (view spoiler)[having him cheat and have sex with his boyfriend’s sister and thinking things like, “Just like this. Easy. Everything will be so much easier this way.” (The 18yo was the one who cheated, by the way, and both were drunk. And also, the 18yo just let it happen, which isn’t true consent.) I mean, I don’t even want to talk about why writing that is so gross, and completely unnecessary. (hide spoiler)] And lastly, the most disappointing thing about this book: It was NOTHING like Ari and Dante, besides the fact that it was about two gay boys, and this just made me want to reread Ari and Dante even more. I think the sad thing is that this book had the potential to be really good? It explored trauma (I’d actually be really interested to see an abuse survivor’s thoughts on it), and also figuring out your identity, and slowly coming to believe yourself to be more deserving of things than you originally thought. I also feel like the romance could have really been well-written, if you basically just changed the ages and took out all the things I talked about above. But the book failed, and I’m really sad (and mad) about it. Anyways, 1.5 stars. I had no idea how to feel about it after I finished it (see the very accurate representational image of my face above), but the beautiful writing definitely made me feel like I enjoyed it a lot more than I actually did. It honestly could be 1 star, but the writing was just really gorgeous and I’m giving it a half star for that. I really don’t recommend this book, and I definitely don’t recommend it if you’re looking for something similar to Ari and Dante. :: rep :: gay MC, gay abuse survivor MC :: content warnings :: physical abuse (parent-child), bullying, homophobia (use of f-slur and q-slur), violence, drug use, cheating, questionable consent during sex

  5. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

    2019 is rocking with all these new gay releases!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hollis

    DNF at 90 pages The problem with a 100% epistolary novel is when your protagonists exist in the same space, in this case a high school, and you want them to have dialogue and face-to-face interactions. So you decide to have the penpals literally recounting situations the other was present for. "When you brought in the groceries, you said this, she said that, this happened next.." it makes no actual fucking sense to write a letter to someone this way. The person was there. I don't want someone giving m"When DNF at 90 pages The problem with a 100% epistolary novel is when your protagonists exist in the same space, in this case a high school, and you want them to have dialogue and face-to-face interactions. So you decide to have the penpals literally recounting situations the other was present for. "When you brought in the groceries, you said this, she said that, this happened next.." it makes no actual fucking sense to write a letter to someone this way. The person was there. I don't want someone giving me a play by play on my life. That's obnoxious. And the author clearly knew this because she covered her ass by saying "I know this is weird but I like breaking the conversation and events down to explore it", uh, no. These are sixteen/seventeen year old boys tasked with an English assignment and, to begin with, they are writing more than they should. You've already stretched the boundaries of my disbelief. I can't buy into this other 'instant replay' nonsense. So instead I spoiled myself on the events of the book by reading some reviews, got mad some more, and thus here I am giving up. If it wasn't against my personal policy to not rate books I've read less than half of.. this would have a one star up there. Nope nope. ** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

  7. 4 out of 5

    Malanie

    “““Poetry’s like that, Kurl: slippery and coy. It means different things to different people.””” You know how sometimes you’ll read a book. And it’s objectively beautiful. Like, if you were to scientifically analyze the book, and place all its pieces side by side on a table, you’d agree that yes, this is technically beautiful. It has all the right parts. It says all the right things. AND THIS ANALYSIS ONLY MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE A STONE COLD MONSTER WHO CANNOT LOVE. That was me. I felt no emotion at all for “““Poetry’s like that, Kurl: slippery and coy. It means different things to different people.””” You know how sometimes you’ll read a book. And it’s objectively beautiful. Like, if you were to scientifically analyze the book, and place all its pieces side by side on a table, you’d agree that yes, this is technically beautiful. It has all the right parts. It says all the right things. AND THIS ANALYSIS ONLY MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE A STONE COLD MONSTER WHO CANNOT LOVE. That was me. I felt no emotion at all for these characters. Except outrage at myself, because this was supposed to be like Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and yet here I am, not feeling my golden holy Ari and Dante vibes. Please just return me to the store, I’m defective. ✨What is this book about?✨ This book was about two boys, Kurl and Jo, who are pen pals ((who attend the same school because they’re pen pals for a writing assignment, not for some normal reason like, they’re separated by some physical distance ***which would have been amazing***)). The entire book = Jo and Kurl taking turns sending one another letters back and forth. I forget what you call a book written in epistle format????? I’ve never read a book in this style before, where it’s literally nothing but letters. Turns out it’s not my thing. *bursts into tears* They basically progress directly from neutral pen pals to lovers. There was no segue at all. It was just WHAM suddenly they’re boyfriends. AND I WAS JUST QUIETLY THINKING:: “jesus that was fast.” Sometimes insta-love works; very rarely, but I’ve seen it done. Sadly, this book does not serve as an example of that. Especially because their earliest sexual encounters have no consent ////whatsoever.//// Which is challenged in the book. But still!!!!!!! This took away so much of my enjoyment of the relationship. It set a tone that I couldn’t get out of my head. The story follows them falling in love, then the events that SAVAGELY break them apart. These events have to do with parent-child abuse and cheating. So. That wasn’t fun in the least. ANYWAY. There are also so many Walt Whitman references. I love Walt. Jo, the protagonist, is Walt’s biggest fanboy. He even dresses like him!!! But all the Whitman allusions to became annoying after a certain point. I love the idea of a person “containing multitudes.” But holy shit we were given a 200 page analysis of “Leaves of Grass" and I wasn't prepared ✨Rep!!!✨ ➡️Jo is gay, Kurl is bisexual or gay? ((not specified for sure)) ✨Overall✨ I didn’t Ari and Dante aesthetic at all. Sure, there’s a soft angelic boy and a…………...idk a “not as soft” boy? Ari and Dante also has a part in the middle where they communicate entirely through letters because Dante moves to Chicago for a little while. But other than that, if you’re reading this because it will give you Ari and Dante feelings, you might be disappointed. TW: parent-child abuse, protagonist with anger issues, sexual encounter without explicit consent, homophobia, bullying, drug use, cheating (within main relationship) |✨BLOG✨| ✨TWITTER✨|✨BOOKSTAGRAM✨|

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Lanzilotta

    We’ve all come across a book so wonderful, you’re utterly transfixed and absorbed in every possible way. Those few moments you look up from the pages are done so with dreary eyes; reality seems secondary to what you’ve just experienced. We Contain Multitudes is beautiful in its simplicity. We are shown a love story between two boys, their journey of heart and healing through letters. When Jonathan Hopkirk and Adam Kurlansky are paired up for a class writing assignment, they didn’t know what to expe/>We We’ve all come across a book so wonderful, you’re utterly transfixed and absorbed in every possible way. Those few moments you look up from the pages are done so with dreary eyes; reality seems secondary to what you’ve just experienced. We Contain Multitudes is beautiful in its simplicity. We are shown a love story between two boys, their journey of heart and healing through letters. When Jonathan Hopkirk and Adam Kurlansky are paired up for a class writing assignment, they didn’t know what to expect. Jonathan enjoys poetry, and doesn’t have any friends in school. Adam is a football star, though he prefers to avoid socializing with other students. Through weekly letters to each other, the boys begin finding friendship amidst their differences. Eventually, things blossom into love, and the two are determined to find peace in a life that wants nothing but chaos for them. Told through solely Adam and Jonathan’s letters to each other, We Contain Multitudes was a truly intriguing book. I was immediately drawn to both main characters, as they each had such a distinct, unique voice. The story flowed perfectly, nothing felt too fast paced or slowed down. It got to the point where I’d forgotten I was reading words on a page, and was instead completely lost in the story. This book left me with a distinct sense of peace. A good sort of quietness has settled inside me after closing the last page. The simple beauty was astounding.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    I LOVED this book! I ADORED this book! I will be gifting this book to some of my loved ones this Christmas because it meant so much to me. This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year and goes right onto my Top Favorites list. This is a YA novel written about two high school boys that couldn’t be more different becoming friends through a class assignment where they have to write weekly letters to one another. Jonathon is a skinny, awkward, opening gay sophomore with no friends wh I LOVED this book! I ADORED this book! I will be gifting this book to some of my loved ones this Christmas because it meant so much to me. This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year and goes right onto my Top Favorites list. This is a YA novel written about two high school boys that couldn’t be more different becoming friends through a class assignment where they have to write weekly letters to one another. Jonathon is a skinny, awkward, opening gay sophomore with no friends who dresses in ruffle shirts and suspenders (inspired by Walt Whitman). Adam (Kurl) is a muscular football jock that’s repeating his senior year and has a reputation for fighting. The entire book is written in their letters to one another. I was a little apprehensive when I started the book, because I’ve never read a book written this way that I end up enjoying. The author rocked this method. I loved every bit of it. I was an emotional wreck while reading this book and that’s the biggest indicator about whether I’m going to like a book or not. If I cry, it’s usually a winner. I cried tears of sadness, frustration, and joy. This book was so touching and the story of Jonathon and Adam was just beautiful and will stay with me for a long time.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    3.5 Stars I had been anticipating this novel since it is Sarah Henstra’s first YA book and I must say that I was deeply happy with some things and not so happy with others. Let’s start with what I enjoyed. I liked the fact that it was all an epistolary novel, it’s a very original concept for a YA book and I think it was set up very well. I enjoyed seeing the two main characters giving both their points of view on the same matter and also trying to catch up with the letters 3.5 Stars I had been anticipating this novel since it is Sarah Henstra’s first YA book and I must say that I was deeply happy with some things and not so happy with others. Let’s start with what I enjoyed. I liked the fact that it was all an epistolary novel, it’s a very original concept for a YA book and I think it was set up very well. I enjoyed seeing the two main characters giving both their points of view on the same matter and also trying to catch up with the letters they sent each other. The prose was definitely beautiful. I must admit that I asked myself a question: was it a bit too much for two teenagers still in high school? Maybe, but in the end I was fine with it because I think that deep down I, as a reader, always want my main characters to be special in some way and not think about the fact that they are just normal teenagers picked out at random from a high school crowd. So yes, maybe it was a bit too much, but these characters are special and so it also felt fitting to have them write so majestically and quote Walt Whitman’s poems to each other. I don’t even know if I succeeded in explaining myself or if I just started rambling here. If so, I’m sorry. Jo and Kurl were definitely something. Both of them had their finest and lowest moments in this book. I appreciated the fact that the author did not shy away from heavy topics such as bullying, homophobia (internalized and general), domestic violence, abuse, grief and PTSD. But if any of these themes make you uncomfortable or are triggering then maybe this isn’t the read for you. Now to what I didn’t enjoy. I had two main issues with this novel. The first one is the part about consent. The lines were really blurry in that scene where Kurl was drunk. I was happy to see Jo seeking guidance and asking for help to his sister and Bron. It was a good choice that then unfortunately didn’t lead to him confronting Kurl. We just get told that he was drunk but he remembers what he did and from what we get he seems to be okay with it. For me this isn’t enough, I think the two of them should have had a more in depth conversation about that night. The second thing I wasn’t okay with is the cheating and how the whole aspect was dealt with. Shayna and Kurl in the end don’t really give any explanation to Jo and he seems to be okay with this decision and he also forgives them. To me it felt like he was accepting something without even trying to solve or fight it. I didn’t like this. The ending makes us think that Kurl and Jo will not only remain friends, but also maybe get back together, or at least try to. Without any explanation and felt apologies for the night when the cheating happened I do not think this is an adequate ending.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Gallager

    Rarely has a book affected me as this one has. I wanted to race through it and while at the same time, slowly savor each sentence. It is a shimmering love story with a brittle core. I cried more than once and may have been reading this at my desk during the day... Unforgettable.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I 1000% loved this book for the 1st 3/4ths. It's this really beautiful romantic epistolary novel about 2 teenage boys who fall in love and discuss Walt Whitman and salamanders and their own sordid lives. It's lovely. But then some hardcore drama happens 3/4ths in and it was really overwhelming in its intensity. I almost whipped the book across the room, tbh. I needed Imogen Heap to come in with some oooooh what you says to cut those dark feelings. Haha. But also for real. So yeah, the I 1000% loved this book for the 1st 3/4ths. It's this really beautiful romantic epistolary novel about 2 teenage boys who fall in love and discuss Walt Whitman and salamanders and their own sordid lives. It's lovely. But then some hardcore drama happens 3/4ths in and it was really overwhelming in its intensity. I almost whipped the book across the room, tbh. I needed Imogen Heap to come in with some oooooh what you says to cut those dark feelings. Haha. But also for real. So yeah, the motivations behind all the dramarama make sense and some of it wasn't surprising and like everyone is broken, but sometimes it's just too much to be reminded of our capacity to hurt each other, ya know? It grinds the soul. The tone shift tho, it just kind of ruined the book for me. And the neat ending didn't work either. Ugh, I have no idea how to rate this. It's somewhere between a 2 and a 3 because of the drama, but everything before was a 5. I'd recommend if you love character driven realistic romances with a lot of hardcore intensity. But there are some hella problematic aspects too, just fyi. P.s. I just read another of the reviews on here and someone compared it to Jeff Zentner's The Serpent King, which is indeed apt in my estimation as I think I literally whipped that book across my bedroom. I don't like books to betray me when I'm not ready.

  13. 4 out of 5

    c,

    a moment of silence for all the great characters who got screwed over by shitty plots for them as wants to know exactly: (view spoiler)[there's a whole load of homophobia in this even before the mess happens (jo regularly gets bullied for being gay). kurl's uncle (who also beats him when he gets drunk) ends up kicking him out bc he's gay, so he goes to his mate's and ends up getting drunk (partly bc he hates himself too!) and having sex with his a moment of silence for all the great characters who got screwed over by shitty plots for them as wants to know exactly: (view spoiler)[there's a whole load of homophobia in this even before the mess happens (jo regularly gets bullied for being gay). kurl's uncle (who also beats him when he gets drunk) ends up kicking him out bc he's gay, so he goes to his mate's and ends up getting drunk (partly bc he hates himself too!) and having sex with his boyfriend's sister, who is also drunk and angry with her father. jo (boyfriend) walks in on them and then ends up going on a bender, getting high, and finding himself in a situation where his bullies beat him up really bad. like proper gay bashing kind of shit. so. a mess. i would mind less if this kind of thing was handled by a mlm but. it's not so. it's frustrating too bc i loved the characters and where the book was going before that. if, say, the kicking out had been the angst bit which they dealt with together, it would have been so much better. instead this all happened. (hide spoiler)] Rep: gay mcs

  14. 5 out of 5

    noah

    a bunch of bullshit and a waste of time. i kinda wonder what goes through a woman's mind when she decides she's going to write a novel about two gay boys and the abuse and violent homophobia they face. they say write what you know for a reason sometimes... honestly the first 3/4 of the book were fine. if i had stopped reading at the 3/4 mark i probably would have given the book a solid three stars. the book is all written in letters by jo and kurl to each other, which somet a bunch of bullshit and a waste of time. i kinda wonder what goes through a woman's mind when she decides she's going to write a novel about two gay boys and the abuse and violent homophobia they face. they say write what you know for a reason sometimes... honestly the first 3/4 of the book were fine. if i had stopped reading at the 3/4 mark i probably would have given the book a solid three stars. the book is all written in letters by jo and kurl to each other, which sometimes felt awkward when they were narrating scenes they were both present in. there were boring bits, uncomfortable bits and some sweet romantic bits, but nothing too amazing. then we get to the last quarter of the book and it's chaos. kurl goes all self-destructive. everybody is making bad decisions. theres crazy violent homophobia. its a disaster. (view spoiler)[im still not over kurl and jo's sister having sex. that was so messed up and unnecessary. there was already enough drama without adding that. (hide spoiler)] it felt like three seasons of gossip girl crammed together to make up the last 25% of the book. by the end i didnt even want jo and kurl to end up together. i just wanted them to forge new healthy relationships (romantic, platonic, familial, etc.) with other people. and live better,happier lives. anyway i wish i hadnt read this book. it so wasnt worth my time.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Giulia

    "Poetry’s like that, Kurl: slippery and coy. It means different things to different people." TW: bullying, homophobia Unpopular Opinion Time 🐸☕ DNF @13% Maybe I should add in the TW “pretentious writing” as well... This is a love story between a 18 years old kid and a 15 years old guy and how their relationship grew and developed in the face of homophobia and bullying. But I’m not sure that was the case. Don't get me wrong, the reason why this is a DNF is, in fact, not the homop/>Unpopular "Poetry’s like that, Kurl: slippery and coy. It means different things to different people." TW: bullying, homophobia Unpopular Opinion Time 🐸☕️ DNF @13% Maybe I should add in the TW “pretentious writing” as well... This is a love story between a 18 years old kid and a 15 years old guy and how their relationship grew and developed in the face of homophobia and bullying. But I’m not sure that was the case. Don't get me wrong, the reason why this is a DNF is, in fact, not the homophobia or the bullying or even the age gap between the two main characters. Nah, fam, the real issues for me here was the writing style. And to be more precise, the 15 yo kid's writing style. It was painfully pretentious. I understand that you are an aspiring poet but, kid, take a goddam breath and write like a normal human being. These two dudes have to send each other letters for an English assignment and from there on their relationship bloomed but damn, the younger kid and his letters were just unbearable. It was just a bit challenging to think that a kid would write and say stuff like that. And, indeed, I did not fully believe in his character and his personality. It felt a bit too plastic and not enough real. Who, with all the due respect, writes that way? Man, it was not enjoyable, and that’s why I decided to not finish We Contain Multitudes. I know there are talented young kids that are definitely able to write in this poetic and lush writing style. And, honestly, kudos to you because I'm clearly not able, but I'm also very clearly not a fan of this pretentious, overly-literate character. I like my protagonists to be a bit more relatable. And Jonathan was simply too smart for my stupid and illiterate self. I'm sure there is somebody out there who can actually enjoy how wordy and cultured he was. But, unfortunately, that somebody was not me. I truly believe I was just too stupid. It was not the book's fault, I assure you. It was all on me and how dumb I am. Nonetheless, the pretentiousness was strong in this one and I was aggressively not a fan. Hence, I decided to stop reading. We Contain Multitudes. It was simply not my cup of tea, but hopefully it's yours!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Roxanne

    How is anybody supposed to hide happiness like this? This book is so pure and beautifully written that after I finished it, I died. As soon as I started breathing again I ordered the hard copy so that, in 11-15 business days, I'll be able to hold this baby in my hands and reread it until it falls apart with me. A book comprised only of letters had me hesitant, but Henstra wrote this perfectly. She used the letters not as a constant conversation but a reminiscent account of things that hap How is anybody supposed to hide happiness like this? This book is so pure and beautifully written that after I finished it, I died. As soon as I started breathing again I ordered the hard copy so that, in 11-15 business days, I'll be able to hold this baby in my hands and reread it until it falls apart with me. A book comprised only of letters had me hesitant, but Henstra wrote this perfectly. She used the letters not as a constant conversation but a reminiscent account of things that happen with the characters revealing themselves to us and each other. I want to walk down the hallways of Lincoln High with one part of me in the eternal, the timeless, and the other part of me slipping so fast through the here and now that nobody can pin me down, not even the butcherboys. Jonathan Hopkirk is a revelation. He is so wholly himself and open to everything that I often found myself with tears in my eyes as I read his letters laying his heart out there. A word kept flashing in my head. One word, over and over, like a flashing neon sign. Lucky. Adam Kurlansky is given the opportunity, through his letters with Jo, to become the person no one else in his life has allowed him to be. He grows so much through the story. I loved the poetry references. I loved the story. I loved how these two found each other and made their own story. This is definitely a book that will stay with me. My beautiful, laughable fable of a life.

  17. 4 out of 5

    - ̗̀ DANY ̖́- (danyreads)

    . : ☾⋆ — 5 ★ READ THIS REVIEW ON MY BLOG!!! https://bit.ly/2ZgR0Kt if love like this really exists out there in the world, if two people can really come to love each other so wholly and beautifully like this, then, God, I’m here and I’m ready. HIT ME WITH IT, PLEASE. We Contain Multitudes is the dictionary definition of tender. it’s sincere and wholehearted and passionate and I craved for just a tiny little bit more every time I had to put the book down to . : ☾⋆ — 5 ★ READ THIS REVIEW ON MY BLOG!!! https://bit.ly/2ZgR0Kt if love like this really exists out there in the world, if two people can really come to love each other so wholly and beautifully like this, then, God, I’m here and I’m ready. HIT ME WITH IT, PLEASE. We Contain Multitudes is the dictionary definition of tender. it’s sincere and wholehearted and passionate and I craved for just a tiny little bit more every time I had to put the book down to go to work. I loved every minute of it intensely, and I already want to reread it if I’m being honest. it’s a book that will stay with me for a really long time, but I’m happier because of it. but I’ll be honest first and foremost, I wasn’t a huge fan of the format. I’ve read books before where the characters write to each other and we read the actual literal letters, but a full-fledged novel written entirely in letters? as in, 100% epistolary? if I’d known beforehand, this book would’ve been a hard pass for me. but I didn’t know before picking it up, so I rolled with it. I never really totally came to “dig” it, for lack of a better word, but I got used to it, and most importantly, the format for this book eventually begins to work with the story. the letters are intrinsic parts of the characters, particularly in Kurl’s case, and We Contain Multitudes wouldn’t read the same or feel the same if it wasn’t for the format, and I’m glad I pushed through just enough to realize so. We Contain Multitudes is heart-wrenching and heartwarming all at once and it’s rare these days to find books like these, that don’t feel like a parroting of the same romance I’ve read a million times before. it’s different and familiar and, yes, wholesome to the most. I want to read this book again and again for the rest of my life.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sana

    'Designating a specific area of a supposedly common space for a minority group, even unofficially, implies that the rest of the space is off-limits for that group.' Sometimes there comes a book that you want to read but not before knowing exactly what you're getting into because many people have spoiler tags and less than impressive ratings up. So there is supposed to be cheating in this and while I *get* as to why, it was still cringe-worthy to read about and then it kinda got brushed over so 'Designating a specific area of a supposedly common space for a minority group, even unofficially, implies that the rest of the space is off-limits for that group.' Sometimes there comes a book that you want to read but not before knowing exactly what you're getting into because many people have spoiler tags and less than impressive ratings up. So there is supposed to be cheating in this and while I *get* as to why, it was still cringe-worthy to read about and then it kinda got brushed over so yeah. There's also a lot of homophobia, bullying and passages about the War on Terror so it gets to be too much at times. But it's not a bad book per se, just a very heavy one and not in a good way 😬 Jo and Kurl are quite well-developed characters right from the start but both of them do have their hang-ups and lots of learning and growing to do. But writing letters to each other and getting to know each other makes them become better versions of themselves and that was quite welcome to read about. This is honestly a great book about the two gay poets falling in love, if only the plot wasn't so harsh on them. Being an epistolary novel, it was quite interesting to read a book written as letters only and the writing is beautiful at times. Granted, the letters got a bit ? when both of them started recounting their meetings word for word. Walt Whitman's poetry plays a big role here (who I didn't even know was gay before this) and I loved that. But the most important takeaway here is there definitely should be more teenager boys wearing and appreciating the hell out of vintage clothes in books. ---------------------- This sounds positively devastating so of course, I want to read it bad

  19. 5 out of 5

    jessica

    this story is definitely a slow creeper - meaning that, whilst reading this, it didnt really feel as impactful. the emotional hit came randomly after i read the book, set it aside, and walked away. and then, out of nowhere, i thought, ‘holy crap. this book.’ this story is large, and it contains multitudes. ↠ 4.5 stars

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rita Mariani

    can't believe how excited i was for this book... the disappointment is real with this one

  21. 4 out of 5

    yvee

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Ok. Maybe like a 1.5 I am so angry at this book. Legit so angry. I would have given this book a 4 Star, even a 5 Star rating if the last like 100 something pages hadn’t happened. This book had so much potential to live up to I’ll give you the sun, or hell, even Ari and Dante. But let me tell you.... how dare they compare this story to Ari and Dante because it doesn’t even come CLOSE after THAT [spoiler ahead] SPOILERS BC I NEED TO VENT: - ok so apparently shayna the be Ok. Maybe like a 1.5 I am so angry at this book. Legit so angry. I would have given this book a 4 Star, even a 5 Star rating if the last like 100 something pages hadn’t happened. This book had so much potential to live up to I’ll give you the sun, or hell, even Ari and Dante. But let me tell you.... how dare they compare this story to Ari and Dante because it doesn’t even come CLOSE after THAT [spoiler ahead] SPOILERS BC I NEED TO VENT: - ok so apparently shayna the beloved sister or whatever has nothing to say to HER BROTHER for sleeping with his boyfriend... - AND KURL??? I WAS ROOTING FOR YOU WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU HOW DARE YOU!!!! - and it just made jo seem almost like the bad guy for wanting some time to himself and to grieve for the loss of his relationship and that made me so ANGRY - AND IT WAS NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN AND HAPPILY EVER AFTER AFTER WEEKS/MONTHS OF NOT TALKING???? - god and then shayna just became a selfish insufferable mess and I felt so fucking bad for Jo Anyways, I loved this book until the end. I am utterly disappointed and disgusted. I wish that authors would not go for unnecessary plots for shock value ESPECIALLY the cheating trope. Ugh.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlin Warwick

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I planned to give this book 4 stars solely for the fact that while I understood the explanation given for the boys writing down scenes that they experienced together in person, I was never quite able to believe it narratively and it felt forced. Otherwise I quite enjoyed the book. Until the same cliche of a self-proclaimed gay character getting upset and having straight sex with the person that would hurt their partner the most was completed. Especially considering it was rape except his “I knew I planned to give this book 4 stars solely for the fact that while I understood the explanation given for the boys writing down scenes that they experienced together in person, I was never quite able to believe it narratively and it felt forced. Otherwise I quite enjoyed the book. Until the same cliche of a self-proclaimed gay character getting upset and having straight sex with the person that would hurt their partner the most was completed. Especially considering it was rape except his “I knew what was happening and I didn’t stop it Why didn’t I stop it?” Mentality was apparently supposed to excuse that and make it not rape? That whole plot twist was very demeaning, disgusting, and I’m not surprised it was a straight woman who wrote it. LGBT plots deserve better than compulsory heterosexuality.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Natasha

    dnf @ 30% I don't know if this extend from me not liking prose free multi-media books, but oh my god I am bored.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Faith Simon

    3 1/2 stars. Wow, uh, MY HEART. From the moment I read the synopsis of this book, I just knew that I wanted to read it. The prospect of two boys writing letters to each other as part of a school project? Sign me up. Considering that I'm super into letter-writing in any sense, this plot was right up my alley. First off, I LOVE the character development we see, just from beginning to end of the book, these boys seem like totally different people. Watching their feelings for each other grow simply 3 1/2 stars. Wow, uh, MY HEART. From the moment I read the synopsis of this book, I just knew that I wanted to read it. The prospect of two boys writing letters to each other as part of a school project? Sign me up. Considering that I'm super into letter-writing in any sense, this plot was right up my alley. First off, I LOVE the character development we see, just from beginning to end of the book, these boys seem like totally different people. Watching their feelings for each other grow simply by reading their correspondence was really cool! Oh yeah, this book is written strictly by letters, the story is told through their letters to each other, the whole way through. I thought that this was really cool, where the story could have been lacking in storytelling because of this format; it flourished. The only thing that I found weird about it was that the boys recounted so many things to each other even though they were both there and went through it. Obviously, this was to clue us readers into what happened, and while I, of course, appreciated this, so I wasn't left confused the entire book, it's just pretty unrealistic that people would recount so much stuff they both already experienced. I was able to get over that rather easily, though, and other than that, this formatting is fantastic! It seems that as of late, I've been reading books about gay boys that are sports stars and aren't as douchey as everyone would assume. And I'm not complaining at all! Kurl, at first, seems completely bemused with the whole letter writing process, and even that being as it may, I was still surprised by how much he would write per letter and of what he would write of. This is for a purpose, of course, as it turns out, Kurl is quite a great writer, and he's not just some sports God or scary twelfth grader. (The author and therefore the setting of this book is Canadian!) In fact, there's so much to his character that we don't know at first glance, and I really loved how he slowly unfurls throughout the story. In fact, both characters go through quite the amount of character development because of the other's influence. I really loved that Kurl never actually labelled his sexuality concretely, he likes Jonathan and that's that, he slept with a girl while drunk and that was a thing that happened. I think that I can always appreciate one character who knows how he identifies exactly, and the other character he is with, who doesn't know at all. It was refreshing that this character didn't need to rush to figure it out. The side characters are also really well developed. Shayna and Bron, Lyle, Kurl's brother Mark. Shayna is very much like my sister, so I could definitely relate to that. I was about halfway through the book and they were already together, my mother was beside me, and when I noticed I went "Oh no." She inquires, and I tell her my predicament. "Ohh." She nods at me in understanding. Oh no, indeed. We all know what it means when they're already together only halfway through the book. That's right, CONFLICT. HUGE BREAKUP. This conflict didn't actually come until further into the book, and yes, it hurt just much as I thought it would. I felt that it was fitting that nothing was all the way resolved by the end of the book, given the situation that had happened. Anyways, I need more books written as letters written between characters, preferably queer characters, stat.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mike Oaks

    I feel like I won the bid to an abandoned storage locker and it was full of letters. Reading each letter from Jo and Kurl captivated me. I didn't want to stop experiencing this story. A few tears rolled down the face as I learned about both boys. 4.5 for letters (naturally).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I was soooo invested in this story!! I loved all these characters, even the side ones, with all of their flaws. I felt my heart thrive and break for them all and I just :((((. I loved Adam the most, I loved reading his letters, I loved to read his writing style a little more than Jonathan's. The way that Adam comes to terms with himself is also very realistic and I really enjoyed the relationship that blossomed from this couple, from writing letters to each other and really getting to know I was soooo invested in this story!! I loved all these characters, even the side ones, with all of their flaws. I felt my heart thrive and break for them all and I just :((((. I loved Adam the most, I loved reading his letters, I loved to read his writing style a little more than Jonathan's. The way that Adam comes to terms with himself is also very realistic and I really enjoyed the relationship that blossomed from this couple, from writing letters to each other and really getting to know each other through these letters. For most of this book, it was just so sOFT and I was uwu-ing all the time, but then my heart also ached for them and I felt my heart breaking and iuwlhfla, emotions are EVERYWHERE. 4.5/5, I really enjoyed this book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jessie_Book

    I don't know how to feel about this book. I loved a good bit of it. Like five stars would recommend to everyone loved it. The characters were fun and portrayed being gay in a heartbreakingly realistic way. It was written well, though the letter format of the book did hinder it a bit and grew a little thin at places. I was excited every time I picked it up to see what was going to happen next. But its the last hundred pages that I can't get behind. Not going to spoil it, but some I don't know how to feel about this book. I loved a good bit of it. Like five stars would recommend to everyone loved it. The characters were fun and portrayed being gay in a heartbreakingly realistic way. It was written well, though the letter format of the book did hinder it a bit and grew a little thin at places. I was excited every time I picked it up to see what was going to happen next. But its the last hundred pages that I can't get behind. Not going to spoil it, but some big issues come up between several characters. And instead of talking about the problem and resolve them, or at least start to resolve them, they just keep going about their days. They don't really even bring up the issues for the last hundred pages, then the book ends and it feels like it was meant to be a satisfying ending but it wasn't. I felt short changed and it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bridget

    The cover weirdly reminds me of Pynch...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Silvia

    I was provided with a digital ARC of this book by NetGalley and the publishing house, Little,Brown Books for Young Readers, in exchange for an honest review Full review can be found here You guys, I'm still in shock by how much I loved this book. I knew it was going to be something right up my alley, but I didn't think I would love it THAT much. This is an episotolary LGBTQ+ YA novel following Jonathan and Adam, two boys who are parnered in English class in order to write letters to each o I was provided with a digital ARC of this book by NetGalley and the publishing house, Little,Brown Books for Young Readers, in exchange for an honest review Full review can be found here You guys, I'm still in shock by how much I loved this book. I knew it was going to be something right up my alley, but I didn't think I would love it THAT much. This is an episotolary LGBTQ+ YA novel following Jonathan and Adam, two boys who are parnered in English class in order to write letters to each other. They could not be more different from one another even if they tried, though: Jonathan is confident in himself, loves poetry, dresses like a Walt Whitman cosplay and more importantly he's out and proud. Adam is in the football team, has a lot of family issues, and he doesn't even know who he is or what he wants to be. He's only 18 after all. This book is a declaration of love for poetry, and a declaration of love in general. Love in all of its forms. The purest, kindest and most youthful love, but also the darkest, most obscure and personal kind of love. This book celebrates even those parts of love and I think it's honestly amazing. I think that this is a novel that will divide the public opinion a lot. If you're not into dark feelings and dark stuff and you want a lovey-dovey fluffy romance, I'm sorry to say, but this book is definitely not for you. It deals with heavy topics, and the relationship in it is very far from perfect, and that's what I loved the most. Sometimes the lines about what is right and wrong is honestly very blurred and I have to admit that I, at times, really cringed in front of certain scenes. I think, though, that the author did a really good job in making the reader empathize with her characters, in order to make you understand why they were thinking and acting in certain ways. The only character I honestly could not stand was Shayna, Jonathan's sister. I'm not gonna spoil anything, but she's selfish, at times mean, and she comes across as the worst person ever. She can't apologize even if she tries, and even though I can see where she comes from, I really think that your inner anger can't justify your behaviour, most of the times (I'm not talking about PTSD or mental health cause that is serious stuff). Jonathan and Adam were honestly the most wonderful characters I've read in a while. They were so true to themselves and with who they are and they are really mature for their age (we're talking about 16 and 18 year old teens, they're REALLY mature kids, I wish I had that kind of intelligence and strenght at their age, and even an ounce of their ability to forgive and forget and accept even the darkest parts of who they are). Like I said, I'm in awe of this book, please give it a chance, I promise it is so very worth it. You guys won't regret it. I'll surely buy my own physical copy when it comes out in order to snuggle it and adore it in the way it deserves. All the stars to this book, really. All of them.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    This. This. This. I don't want to write about what this book is about. I don't feel the urge to write about how beautifully drawn Adam Kurlansky and Jonathan Hopkirk are. How their voices are so distinct. How their story is so universal and unique. I don't want to write about that. I want to write about how much I'm feeling right now. This is two days in a row of me reading YA books with gay boys at their center. And both have completely wrecked me. But this one might have This. This. This. I don't want to write about what this book is about. I don't feel the urge to write about how beautifully drawn Adam Kurlansky and Jonathan Hopkirk are. How their voices are so distinct. How their story is so universal and unique. I don't want to write about that. I want to write about how much I'm feeling right now. This is two days in a row of me reading YA books with gay boys at their center. And both have completely wrecked me. But this one might have wrecked me the most. I was destroyed by this book. But it's a delicious sort of destruction, the kind where I know I will pick this up and thumb to passages just to remind myself of their beauty. That's not hyperbole - when I have insomnia I go to my shelves and find a passage of book that will soothe me to sleep, and honestly Kurl and Jo are going to be my go-tos for a while. I wish I could give this more than five stars. I want to give this five stars with hearts on either end. Five stars with a broken heart emoji. A heart that's so full it's bursting emoji. I haven't been this affected by a book since THE SERPENT KING. This is so romantic. So heart wrenching. I feel so FULL from this book. You all, I don't want to oversell this; if anything, I feel like I'm underselling it. I truly, unabashedly loved this book. "Let's not be the type of people who are scared to live because we might die." I am all the things right now. Thanks, book. You've ruined me for other books for a long long time and I am not mad at you.

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