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True Letters from a Fictional Life

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If you asked anyone in his small Vermont town, they'd tell you the facts: James Liddell, star athlete, decent student and sort-of boyfriend to cute, peppy Theresa, is a happy, funny, carefree guy.

But whenever James sits down at his desk to write, he tells a different story. As he fills his drawers with letters to the people in his world -- letters he never intends to send -- he spills the truth: he’s trying hard, but he just isn’t into Theresa. It’s a boy who lingers in his thoughts.

He feels trapped by his parents, his teammates, and the lies they've helped him tell, and he has no idea how to escape. Is he destined to live a life of fiction?

326 pages, Hardcover

First published June 7, 2016

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Kenneth Logan

4 books93 followers

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 409 reviews
Profile Image for ellie.
542 reviews167 followers
April 1, 2018
i know i'm probably at a point in my life where i should outgrow these coming of age YA books featuring a gay running away from their problems, but get this: i don't want to
Profile Image for Rosh.
55 reviews233 followers
April 8, 2018
This is a pretty decent look at a coming-out story, as James struggles with how to be true to himself without losing all of the "perks" of his comfortable, heterosexual life.

James repeatedly can say, "I like boys," but he still has trouble saying, "I'm gay" to himself and others. Also the idea of writing letters to people, putting your thoughts down uncensored and never sending them away was very unique.

Basically this is a YA book that does not patronize kids. It sheds light on some of their struggles and gives credit to them for being able to handle them maturely and deftly (despite the difficulty and emotions inherent in such situations). And, most importantly, it acknowledges teens’ curiosity and intelligence and heart. This is definitely not the best-written book in all the land . . . but it is fast-paced and fun to read. And, in light of all the good messages the book contains, I am willing to let that flaw go.
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,686 reviews1,266 followers
May 12, 2016
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

“It must be really hard for his parents.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well, him being gay.”

This was a YA contemporary story about a boy who found it hard to admit that he was gay.

James was an okay character and it was interesting how he wrote letters to people telling them how he really felt. It might have been an idea to destroy the letters rather than keeping them though as it seemed a little risky to keep them hanging about.

The storyline in this was about James struggling to deal with the fact that he liked boys, and worrying over how to tell his parents and friends etc. The storyline with the letters reminded me a bit of ‘to all the boys I’ve loved before’, and I was just waiting for someone to mail them out!

The ending to this was okay, and James did seem happy at least.

6 out of 10
Profile Image for Moony Eliver.
295 reviews159 followers
November 27, 2019
4.5 stars. If you're a fan of queer YA, why haven’t you read this book? Because let’s get real. You haven’t. I know, because I was just in Haven't-Read-This-Book-Land, and I saw you.

In fact, if Teal hadn’t asked me to buddy read it, I still might not even know it exists. Which would be tragic, because it was incredibly well written. I loved it and inhaled it in less than a day.

The highlight was undoubtedly the characters, none of whom were flat, or perfect, or predictable. The voice of the seventeen-year-old protagonist James was authentic, and the evolution of his coming out tale was equally so. It never veered into either Fairy Taleville or Tragic City. I had moments of laughter, heartbreak, discomfort, hearteyes, anger, and meltiness. (These are all v official states of being. Look it up.)

There isn’t anything in this book that recreates the wheel. But sometimes, taking an everyday story and just executing the shit out of it is radical enough.

Buy it, read it, love it. Tell James I said hi.

Oh and, if you ever happen to see Kenneth Logan anywhere? Please implore him to write more. He’s one of the good ones, and I can’t wait to read anything else he publishes.
Profile Image for Taylor.
767 reviews424 followers
January 11, 2017
I wasn't sure what to expect with True Letters from a Fictional Life but I ended up really enjoying it.
I really liked the writing style and how honestly it was written. I felt like the plot was fairly realistic and I appreciated that a lot. I didn't really start to love this book until the second half. The first half was good but it wasn't until the last 175-150 pages that I felt like the story really came alive for me.
I really loved James but I never really connected with him. I personally couldn't relate to him but I think a lot of people could. I did become really invested in James though and I was really rooting for him.
I've seen a lot of people comparing it to To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han, which is an all time favorite of mine, and I do see how they're similar because of the letters but other than that, I don't think they're very much alike.
Overall, I did enjoy this book, mostly the last half. I liked the main character a lot and I think quite a few people could relate to him. I wasn't completely emotionally invested but I was definitely rooting for James. If you're looking for quick contemporary or wanting to pick up an LBQTQ+ book, I'd recommend True Letters from a Fictional Life.
Profile Image for Romie.
1,061 reviews1,272 followers
February 19, 2017
I can't believe this book is over. I wish it would have been longer, because oh man was it GOOD. Like incredibly good.
This book isn't about extraordinary people, it's better than that: it's about real life. It's about a boy - James- who happens to like other boys. It's about James trying to figure out what it means to be gay in our society, how to come out to his friends and family without them hating him, but also accepting that it's okay if everybody isn't okay with that. Because screw them, he deserves to be happy. And this process, it was so well written and it touched me on some deeper level.
All this struggle he's experiencing, or the way he and his big brother Luke are telling their little brother Rex that it's okay to be gay :

“Even if you are, it doesn't matter. That's the whole point of this conversation. James likes other boys, and it doesn't matter.”

The romance was absolutely adorable, I can't even tell you how much I love Topher and how much he cares about James and his happiness. Topher makes James happy and carefree, their relationship is based on honesty - because Topher knows James hasn't come out yet, but he's willing to help him.
I think this book should be read by anyone who's still in the closet - I kinda hate this expression but it's the only one I have - because this book can really help figuring things out.
Oh and one last thing, this book gives a HUGE fuck to the stereotypes going on about gay men, and I LOVE IT.

“He has his arm draped around my shoulders. I look like I don't care who's watching.”

Profile Image for bianca.
350 reviews176 followers
February 15, 2018
rating: 1.5 stars
format: ebook

Here is where a nice quote would be but I can't really find any

Oh my god, am I disappointed. That was really, really bad. The more I think about it, the angrier I get. It's so weird for me to give an LGBT book 1 star, I usually look past some of the problematic aspects because the romance gets the best of me. I'm still just a crazy fangirl on the inside, no matter how hard I try to hide it. I just wanted to read about a cute gay relationship and be able to ship them. But this time, not even a cute gay relationship was able to save this book from its inevitable fate.

That fate is being thrown in the trash where it belongs.

James is a gay teen that can't really admit he is gay, not to his friends, not to his sort-of-but-not-really girlfriend, not to his family, not to himself. He writes letters to people so he can vent some of his feelings but never really sends any of them. He just keeps all the letters locked in a drawer.

Right from the start, the pace didn't feel right. I can't really pin down what's that bothered me so much. We are welcomed by our MC, James (who I've grown to hate SO MUCH I can't even begin to describe it), practically admitting his love towards one of his closest male friends, Hawken. Fortunately, Hawken is really cool about it and will be one of James biggest supporters throughout his ride. The thing is, we are told through all the book that James has this big crush on Hawken, but that isn't shown at any moment. Like, it is said more than once, but there's nothing that actually shows it's true. Their relationship stays the same, which is good, but even in James inner monologue, there's nothing to prove he is even a little bit hurt by Hawken not liking him back or something. And anyhow, this crush isn't really solved in any way? It's just kind of there, even when James starts sort of dating another guy, his crush doesn't seem to fade. That was strange.

But that's really just a smaller detail within all the reasons why I did not like this. The thing is, James belongs to the "I am gay but not THAT kind of gay" trope, and I just hate that. I've seen it before and I keep seeing it and I just HATE it. Be gay all you want but do not make a show out of it, whatever that means. There's this other gay kid at school, Aaron. Aaron is, according to James, that kind of gay. He dresses differently and "acts like a girl". James and his friends discuss why he has to "act and talk like a girl" as if this was the reason why Aaron gets picked at. As if being gay and being feminine had to go hand in hand, and as if being both gay and feminine were a bad thing. I wanted to scream and punch James in the face.

Let's just read an extract from a letter that James writes to Aaron after he witnesses how someone calls Aaron a 'faggot' on the street. Let's remember, Aaron never actually gets this letter, thank God.

[...] I'm sorry that you're always getting picked on, and I'm sorry you had to deal with that kid in the parking lot today. But honestly, why do you wear such flaming queer outfits to school? You're inviting trouble. In a perfect world, you could wear whatever you want, I guess, but look around you, man. This isn't San Francisco. It pays to try to fit in a little.
Here's another thing I don't understand. If you're gay, and I've heard that you've admitted it, then why do you have to act like a girl? If you like other boys, why would he be attracted to a guy who walks and talks like a girl? There are probably a few other gay kids in the school, but I'm sure they're scared to come out because they don't want to be associated with you.

Then, he goes on about how, if Aaron changes his way of dressing and porting himself, he can sit with them at lunch. Um, what!? James, dear. Aaron is fine with his not prejudging girl friends who are not, by the way, fucking assholes. He doesn't need jerks like you for friends. Thank you very much.

Everything that's said in this particular letter is SO problematic. Blaming the victim much? As if it was Aaron's fault for not dressing according to your definition of normal. Fuck your gender roles. THE WORST THING IS, Aaron does change his way of dressing. The next day at school, he is wearing low profile clothes. James' exact words are: "He looked pale and sad, but I couldn't help thinking that his life was about to improve dramatically."

That happens at 18% of the story. I don't know how I didn't stop reading right there and deleted this book from my kindle for good. I guess I was looking forward to writing this review in order to destroy it with my words.

To make matters worse, James clearly has no idea of the difference between gender and sexual orientation. Make us all a favor and go read some queer theory, hit yourself in the head with some Judith Butler books to see if some knowledge sticks to you by osmosis at least, then come back.

I get it, guys. He is conflicted. I mean, I am conflicted by his stupidity as well and you don't see me being a jerk. But still, I get him. He feels threatened by Aaron's freedom. Guys' masculinity really is that fragile. I could just forgive him for all this, I could congratulate him on his character development, if only any of this would have been dealt with in some way. In any way. But it was not. There is no gay pride redemption, no moment in which James realizes being "that gay" isn't actually a bad thing. YOU WERE ABLE TO COME OUT TO YOUR PARENTS BECAUSE OF THOSE GAYS, YOU MORON. Those gays who fought for their rights to be treated as equals, and still fight for not getting picked on at school and punched on the streets. But I guess, for you, being a "real boy" is more important. Yes, those words were actually used. More than once. Fuck this bullshit.

Also, let's talk about AIDS! We all know HIV is not a disease that only affects gay men, right? That stupid, discriminatory, DANGEROUS thought was banished like, what, 30 years ago, right? Well, apparently, the author missed the memo. Exhibit A: health class. They are discussing sexually transmitted diseases and the importance of condoms. And the TEACHER goes ahead and says it: "Condoms are especially important for gay men because of AIDS." Um, excuse me?

Exhibit B: after James comes out to his parents. He is telling them about his new boyfriend. James' mom asks him if he is sleeping with this guy. James loses his shit and tells her she has never asked him that when she thought he was dating his sort of ex-girlfriend. And her MOM goes ahead and says it: "I never worried about you contracting HIV when I thought you were dating Theresa." BULL. SHIT.

Straight men can get AIDS too. Gay women, straight women, can get AIDS too. And there are other sexually transmitted diseases, for fuck's sake. Neither of those comments is taken back later on, they are said and then forgotten, as if they were not completely out of line. Not to even mention how transphobic this all is. Can I throw myself off a cliff already?

Okay, I'll calm down. Besides all the homophobic, transphobic crap, there were also some things in the plot that just didn't add up. There were characters that could have just not been there and the story wouldn't have changed much. There were things that happened randomly that were clearly just fillers, attempts to make the overall story more interesting, but failed. Even the relationship between James and his boyfriend felt unaccomplished. It could have been treated more deeply, I would have loved to see more about their growth as characters and as a couple. But, like many other things in this book, their relationship is just there. A reason for James to snap out of it an accept the fact that he likes boys.

I am astonished as to why so few people are talking about the problematic aspects of this. I really can't look past them. Or is it me? Have I become an unbearable asshole who picks on every faulty detail? Oh well. We all knew this moment would come.

I just. Can't. James, you are an asshole. There were so much more interesting characters that I would have loved to see more of, but I got very little of them and was instead stuck with James' pity monologue. Topher deserved better. Aaron deserved better. Even Hawken and Derek deserved better, even if the fucked up a few times. I'm out.
Profile Image for Kaje Harper.
Author 74 books2,495 followers
September 26, 2016
I really enjoyed this coming out story. James is a young man caught between his image of what everyone wants him to be (including himself) and who he really is. He's known he was gay since he was twelve, and yet he keeps hoping he's bi, or it's a phase, or if he hides it enough and ignores it enough, he'll fall in love with the great girl he's kind of dating.

His parents are just ordinary people, who care about him, but his mother has a photo of him and Theresa on the refrigerator. She has hopes and dreams and they don't include a boyfriend for James. His friends are a mixed bag, but mostly pretty good people, other than Mark who has anger issues. They might be okay with James being gay, but he doesn't trust that, and he doesn't want to hurt Theresa, and he's trapped. A moment of connection with the one out gay guy he knows in school is immediately followed by that guy ending up in the hospital. James is stuck in his life.

To escape, and understand, he writes letters he'll never send. Letters to Aaron, the gay kid he admires for being out even as he wishes Aaron knew how to blend in better. Letters to Theresa and his parents and the guy he kind of has a crush on. He stores this record of his real feelings locked in a desk drawer, and tries to live as if they weren't true. But then Aaron is hurt, James meets Topher who is out at another school, and interested in him. And he begins to wonder about a quote he can't track down -

"If you ain't scared standing up for what's right, then you ain't standing up for much." He notes that it is "- Not Mark Twain" as he was told. And yet, it has resonance for him. In just going along trying to keep the peace, what is he really standing for?

This book is well-written and the teens were rounded individuals, not stereotypes. The romance wasn't as intense as some YA, and felt perhaps more a stepping stone than a long-term love, but that's not unreasonable at that age. The story's a bit slow-moving, and although I appreciated the times it didn't fall to the easy stereotype, the resolution is low-key. Still, a good solid addition to coming out stories, with some nice variations of reaction between family and friends to James's gradual reveal, and a refreshing lack of melodrama.
Profile Image for Kim at Divergent Gryffindor.
470 reviews132 followers
May 27, 2016
To be honest, I was really wary of reading this book at first. I try not to judge the book by its cover (literally), but I judged this book by its cover, and I thought it wouldn't be a great book. But I was reeled in by the fascinating synopsis, and a lot of people gave this one good reviews so I totally didn't listen to my gut and went ahead to request this one. Boy am I glad that I did because this book turned out to be amazing!

"... but I've always been told that I'm straight. And that's the story I was trying to make happen. I didn't come up with the lie. It wasn't mine. They handed the lie to me, and I tried like hell to make it work for a while."

The opening scene made me feel wary of this book when I started reading this because I thought Mark is part of James' close friends, and I just didn't want to read about an asshole friend throughout the hole book. Luckily, it turns out that that's not the case so I was safe. As I read the novel, the more that I liked it.

""If you ain't scared standing up for what's right, then you ain't standing up for much."
- Not Mark Twain"

True Letters from a Fictional Life is more centered on the coming out process of James, and also how he found himself in a relationship with Topher. This book featured the different reactions of the people closest to James, some being more accepting than the others. What's unique about this book is how James explained to Rex, his younger brother, what being gay is because apparently there's a huge misconception on his part. I really liked how the author included someone young in this book, and how he reacted. I also really enjoyed how supportive James' friends and brother were with his coming out.

"Right now it doesn't matter whether you feel courageous. Make them believe you are. You win this one by acting like you're a happy, calm, strong kid, even when you don't feel that way."

The romance of this book is just so cute! I don't know what it is about gay couples, but when done right, I get more feels from them than straight couples. The romance here is not overbearingly sweet or anything like that, but I just really enjoyed it. It's not really centered on the romance either, but I loved the small glimpses of it that the book offered.

"Well, you can always count on some people to be human and others to be monsters, right? That'll never change. That should never surprise you. So practice that smile you're going to flash when other kids insult you. Arm yourself with a few clever one-liners."

Honestly, I don't know what more to say about this book other than I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick and light read, even if it features an issue which usually becomes heavy because of the reactions of people when one comes out. Anyway, I read this mostly in just one sitting, and I really liked it!
Profile Image for Bee.
812 reviews211 followers
May 31, 2016
Istyria book blog ~ A World of Enchanted Books

3.5 stars

You all know by now that I love a good YA Contemporary book, right? Especially one that has an LGBT theme/romance. So when I found this one, I was really excited. More so because it was from HarperTeen, who often throw a bunch of galleys on Edelweiss. And yes, when this one was among one of those drops, I picked it up and read it immediately. But if I have to be honest... I didn't love this as much as I hoped I would.

True Letters from a Fictional Life is about James. He's a decent student, a star athlete and sort-of boyfriend to Theresa. He's a happy, funny and carefree guy. Or so it seems. Whenever James sits down at his desk in his room, he tells a different story. He fills his drawers with letters to the people in his world that he never sends. In these letters he tells the truth: he's trying so hard to be normal, but he just isn't into Theresa. Or any girl. It's his friend, a boy, who lingers in his thoughts.

I really enjoyed this book. Let's just make that clear. Because I have a few things that irked me and I just want you to know that I did enjoy this one. I loved the story and most of the characters. Especially James's little brother Rex and his older brother Luke. Rex is just a little sweet cutie that I want to take out of the book and cuddle all night long like a teddy bear. I also liked James's friends. Most of them anyway. I also kinda liked the romance, but that's also where the negative parts start.

Most of the negative for me in this book is actually just me. I didn't really connect with the characters. Because of that, I missed some of the feels I should've had. Another thing is that some things seemed like they could've been worked out better than they were. A few plot points and most of all the romance. I really liked it, but I think it was pushed to the background too much. It could've been so amazing if there'd been more time spent focussing on it. My eARC only counted 218 pages, so it could've been longer! It would've solved most of these problems I had. The last small note I have is on the blurb. It gave away a tad too much, because the letters getting out doesn't happen until the second half of the book. It didn't need to be in the blurb.

Overall, True Letters from a Fictional Life is a very enjoyable and cute read. I'd recommend it to fans of To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han and fans of LGBT novels.

sign bieke
Profile Image for Autumn.
989 reviews28 followers
January 19, 2016
Super well-written coming-out-story about a deeply closeted popular jock who thinks his life would be a lot easier if he could manage to not be gay. Great, authentic interactions between James and his friends. Strong sense of place, realistic and interesting rural Vermont setting. True-to-life jock speak and teasing. Hot (but never explicit) romance.

Give this one to the entire team. Somebody will need it and everybody will benefit.
Profile Image for Chiara.
869 reviews220 followers
June 22, 2016
A copy of this novel was provided by HarperCollins for review via Edelweiss.

I read this book in two sittings, and I was absorbed by it immediately (which makes me sound like some kind of liquid but whatever, I’m going with it). There were two main things I loved about True Letters from a Fictional Life, which caused the whole absorbing thing:

1) The writing style. It just flowed so well, and it was engaging and interesting, and just. Really. Good. I would 100% read another book by Kenneth Logan, because this writing style is one that I have fallen completely in love with. It was just so easy to fall into the story, and connect with James. A+ writing style, right here.

2) The voice. My gosh, I haven’t read such an authentic teenage guy voice in so long, possibly ever. The whole time I was reading True Letters from a Fictional Life, I was just like: y e s. This is how YA books with male protagonists should read. There was just so much reality and authenticity in James’ voice, and I fell for it immediately. I loved the feeling that it gave me – that a teenage guy was telling me his story. Which is just amazing.

Beyond those two things, I didn’t really fall head over heels for anything else in True Letters from a Fictional Life, which sounds bad, but it really isn’t. I just adored the writing style, and the voice, so it was pretty hard for any other aspects of this book to live up to those things. But that isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy True Letters from a Fictional Life, otherwise it would never have received four stars from me (although those stars are mainly for the writing style and the voice which I will stop talking about now).

This was a different “coming out” story to any others that I have read – which just goes to show the people who say “we have enough coming out stories” really don’t know what they’re talking about. Coming out stories are varied and wildly different and just. Yes. The interesting thing about the “coming out” aspect of this story is that James only willingly told a handful of people about his sexuality. The others were told in other ways, which were really not so great.

James was a character that I really enjoyed reading about, but I didn’t love him. There were problematic things he did and said, but there were also times that I really felt for him, and liked the things he did and said. So … he was pretty much a normal human being (THE VOICE. THE VOICEEE). He was never really unlikeable, per se, but I am not entirely sure that he and I would have been friends if we had gone to high school together. But reading about characters who are different from the people that surround you is one of the great things about reading.

The romance was adorable. I don’t really want to go into it all that much, but it was sweet and pretty slowburny, and I shipped it quite a lot.

One of my favourite characters was Hawken, who is James’ best friend (and object of affection). His acceptance and support of James really just gave me the warm fuzzies. I have to say I kinda shipped these two a little more than the actual ship, but I couldn’t help it. Even James’ brother and friend thought that they were a coupe once James told them he was gay. And they were just really cute together.

To be honest, there is even more I could say about this book (like the letters! Which is how James expresses his true feelings and thoughts towards people and things. And Aaron! Who is a sweetie pie and goes through shit. And family being present! And awesome friendships!), but this review is pretty long already. So I will finish with this: if you’re looking for an incredibly engaging story, an authentic teenage guy voice, and a “coming out” narrative that goes to show we will never stop needing these stories, then give True Letters from a Fictional Life a go. It won’t let you down.

© 2016, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity . All rights reserved.

trigger warning: homophobia, biphobia, physical assault, excessive alcohol consumption, and bullying in this novel
Profile Image for Ririn.
682 reviews4 followers
November 10, 2016
The problem with this book is that I really don't like the main character, James. He's leading on his pseudo-girlfriend on while sorta-hooking-up with a guy.

His friends sound like jerks (except for Hawkens, he's a stand up guy since the beginning til the end) altho in the end Derek is sort of redeemed.

Topher feels too much like a prize. He goes to a different school so there's no conflict. Convenient. He came out of nowhere and just... there. There isn't much to tell and I don't feel the chemistry and don't really give a shit about their relationship haha...

The only person I care about in this book is Aaron.
Profile Image for joey (thoughts and afterthoughts).
139 reviews142 followers
June 29, 2016
Perhaps I would have enjoyed this more if I had not disliked 80% of those around the protagonist. That's on me though because this type of premise is supposed to be a tangled mess. So I get that.

Also: bromance feels are way way way stronger than the romance in this book (including both brothers and friends).

--Temporarily rated a 3 but it's probably higher.
Profile Image for Cassandra.
667 reviews86 followers
August 31, 2016
"I didn't come up with the lie. It wasn't mine. They handed the lie to me, and I tried like hell to make it work for a while."


This book was all kinds of wonderful. The writing was awesome. I felt like I was in Vermont the whole time I was reading this. And I think it's worth mentioning that I was in New York City of all places. I was trapped in a world of lush foliage and small town problems while in reality, I was in the concrete jungle rubbing elbows with people who didn't give a crap about being in my business. It was that enthralling.

The only reason I took this rating down half a star was just the way some things happened a tad too conveniently. To be honest; I really don't care how well some things went. Because so many things went so horribly wrong that I feel it cancelled out the good.

This book really put the realistic in realistic fiction. I live in a small town, and sweet Jesus, this is how it is. Everyone is in everyone's business, and you almost always have to settle for friends you don't 100% agree with. And the wise ways of the elderly is more often than not a total lie. This quote pretty much sums it up (especially since the man saying it claims it was said by Mark Twain):

"If a fight looks like a lot of fun, you should be suspicious. 'If you ain't scared of standing up for what's right, you ain't standing up for much."

The element of this book that really stole my heart is the characters. James was hilarious and so adorably confused about the world. He was the perfect example of the type of person who gets stuck in a small town. His friends Mark, Derek, and Hawken (swoon worthy my people) were also the kind of people you meet in a place like Vermont. The ignorant jock who people only like sometimes. (Random tidbit: I have an uncle named Mark and he is literally a carbon copy of the Mark from this book. I was cringing the whole times.) The super awesome one who just happens to be a Christian, and who you spend most of the time you're together wondering whether they're judging you or not. And the super nice guy who everyone secretly wonders whether they're gay, but likes so much they don't every ask.

I loved the character of Topher, especially since as a theater geek I've met plenty like him before. He as funny, and adorable, and I could totally see why James digs him. But honestly, I was a bit mad Aaron didn't have a bigger part in the story. He was probably my favorite character (or tied with Hawken. These two are precious.).

Finally, I loved his brothers. Luke was such a spot on older brother (down to wanting to smack him all the time), and Rex made me crack up. I'll leave you with this particular gem of a conversation between him and James:

R- "I'm allowed to tell other kids to go to hell?"

J- "Sure, dude. Go for it."

R- "Can I use the F-bomb?"

J- "If Mom and Dad don't hear you, you can even use the F-bomb."

R- "Can I practice in the house?"

J- "No. Let's go get some ice cream."

As the oldest of five, I can promise I have said things along these lines so many times I wish I had counted so I know how many times I corrupted the younger generation. But I didn't.

Basically, read this book. If you love contemporary, adorable but deep stand-alones, hilarious families, social justice, or if anything else about it appeals to you. It's so worth it. I'll leave you with a final quote in case I haven't convinced you:

"Please your mother: just lie around upstairs and smoke some pot. Be a revolutionary."
Profile Image for Aila.
911 reviews32 followers
March 31, 2016
“‘Congrats, James Liddel.’ He laughed. ‘You made it!’
I broke our kiss. ‘Made it where?’ I whispered, running my hands up his arms.
‘Wherever we are. This place without secrets. It feels good, right?’
I put my chin on his chest. ‘I have never, ever felt this free.’”

3.5 stars
This book, in essence, is one of self-discovery and introspection for the main character James Liddell, who is stuck between two lives. It's heartwarming and quite light, but I had a personal problem with the main character's attitude (we're just two personalities that wouldn't mesh well). The exploration with coming out for James was also realistic, and his inner turmoil is easily relatable.
Profile Image for Hayley ☾ (TheVillainousReader).
383 reviews1,212 followers
February 17, 2020
3.5 S T A R S

This was a really cute and light read.

I really enjoyed James and the setting of a cozy little town in Vermont. Logan did a great job capturing the teenage voice and it was a riot hanging out with James and his friends.

I wish there were more moments between James and his love interest.
Profile Image for Ashley Blake.
Author 12 books3,589 followers
May 28, 2017
Authentic, messy, nuanced coming out story. I know teens are gonna love this book--it's one we still so desperately need in the canon! So good.
Profile Image for Laura.125Pages.
322 reviews19 followers
May 24, 2016
This review was originally posted on www.125pages.com listfeels

*Jumps up and down* Oh you guys, this book, this book. I was so intrigued by the synopsis that I read it as soon as I received it, in December 2015. Then I had to wait to share and it was awful as you all need to read it! True Letters from a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan is just phenomenal. James is your average high school jock. He has a sortof girlfriend, decent friends and a secret. See James is gay and is deeply afraid to come out. He is afraid to express himself to those around him as they might not be okay with who he really his. His way of expressing himself is to write letters to those around him. Letters he never plans to send, that say the things he wishes he could say. Then things start happening. A fellow student is gay bashed, James meets a guy and his letters disappear. What will happen when his truth gets out? Will James be able to handle the outcome of his private thoughts?

Kenneth Logan crafted an amazing story. Full of emotions and heart, I couldn't put it down. The world created was very real, and the story made sense within it. The pacing was great, not too fast and no dragging. The plot was unique and layered; it was not a standard coming out story, it dealt with social issues as well as emotional issues. The characters were special. It is rare to see high school characters depicted with such emotional depth. The writing is what set this apart. Logan was able to layer emotion, social issues, humor and heart in a YA novel. I normally do not see this combination of feels in one book, especially a book that leans towards a teen audience.

Books like True Letters from a Fictional Life are so important. As people read about the pain and struggle with coming out, I hope it will normalize it. Sexual orientation is an intrinsic part of who a person is, it is not a choice. The more exposure people, especially young people, have to this information, the better and more open I hope each generation gets. Kenneth Logan has amazing depths and a true future as an author. I hope he continues to write books with such amazing story lines. I will sign up to read anything Logan writes and will champion True Letters from a Fictional Life to everyone I meet.

Favorite lines - As much as I was scared to come out, part of me figured that everything would get better when I told the truth. But now that some of what I feared is actually happening, now that I’m actually getting hit and cursed at, I keep thinking: it was supposed to get easier. Coming out was supposed to make life easier.

Biggest cliché - "Everyone will love you for who you truly are."

 Have you read True Letters from a Fictional Life, or added it to your TBR?This book was most likely received free from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for Rynn Yumako.
585 reviews35 followers
February 5, 2020

I actually forgot most of the plot of this book, only remembered some parts of it and that it was good. It almost felt like reading a new book! I love it still, so so much.

I'm kinda sad that the author hasn't published anything since this book came out, I'd love to read more from him!


This book, man, this is how you write teenagers without turning them into caricatures. All the characters, even the smaller parts, were spot-on, filled with life, faults and troubles. I especially liked that the stupid dumb-jock stereotype was quickly dropped here.

James was an awesomely layered character, with many, many faults, but with a good heart and a believable struggle. It just goes to show that even a kid with a reasonably well adjusted life, family and friends can find it difficult to accept his own sexuality, would still agonize over how others would react and make dumb choices out of fear of being found out. My heart broke for him several times over this novel. He had such an honest voice, he was such a boy, I was completely blown away by his character.

Other things, right. I loved the twist with the letters, the way things spiralled out of control so quickly. I loved the witty dialogues that never felt forced or seemed like they were written for a Gilmore Girls episode. And I absolutely adored Hawken and Derek, simple as that. And I could go on, but it's really something you should read for yourself.

It's so rare I find a YA contemporary set in high school that actually manages to convey deeper emotions, without turning everything into melodrama, but this book balanced everything so perfectly.

A really, really splendid read, I can't wait to read more from this author in the future!
Profile Image for Angie.
731 reviews11 followers
January 4, 2017
This is one of those books where you yell at the characters. "Talk! Tell people before it gets worse!" and then you wince and grimace, tap your feet anxiously as the character proceeds to not listen to your shouted advice (because you are not Bastian and this is not The Neverending Story) and things proceed to go from bad to worse. Then, before you know it, you've finished the book and you can put it down with a contented sigh because the characters finally grew and matured and listened to you after all. :)
Profile Image for - ̗̀  jess  ̖́-.
575 reviews363 followers
April 5, 2017
This book seemed to me like it harkened way back to the coming out stories where everything was awful for gay kids, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's really realistic; you do get homophobic responses but it's a lot more positive than a lot more coming out stories I've read.

James is a fun narrator and I really liked his voice, as well as all the other characters (except Mark can choke). He had a pretty big circle of friends, all of whom can be casually homophobic so I can see why he was so stressed out about coming out.

For a while during the story, things look bleak for James: it looks like everyone hates gay people, his parents don't support him, because all James sees is the homophobia. And granted: there's a fair amount of homophobia, more than I've seen in a lot of recent books, and that can be quite hard to read.
Profile Image for a u b r e y.
47 reviews34 followers
November 25, 2020
This is a really fluffy book. I wish it was actually longer since I didn't get a chance to see if James get to reconcile with Theresa and Mark. I don't know, maybe it's a little sappy if James get to be "friends" again with Mark, right? Haha.
Besides from this being a coming of age story (which I liked, don't get me wrong), I hate but still highly relates on how James sees the world because that's how I was when I was a teenager, always caring for what the other people would say about me. I'm glad this has a nice and gentle finish but still...it couldn't hurt to have a little more. 😉😂
Profile Image for ★MC's Corner★.
965 reviews48 followers
February 3, 2016
True Letters from a Fictional Life
by Kenneth Logan [ARC REVIEW]

I love the whole concept of this book. On my perspective, as gay (not closeted) I felt everything he’s feeling. It was very realistic and people will relate and respond to this.

*MC’s Corner*
Note: Spoilers.

• James Liddell – he’s kinda popular guy in school, maybe not that popular… let’s just say he’s part of the cool kids. The story is written on his POV, he has a girlfriend which they (other people, family etc.) thought they’re going to end up together forever. But here’s the problem (his problem), he doesn’t see it that way. He is attracted to guys, really attracted and he’s afraid to tell his family and friends about it because he is afraid of how are they going to react with it. Then he met this very cute guy named Topher… NOW WHAT?!

• Gosh! When I read that first bullet ( ↑ ) it sounded so cliché.
Well… there’s an interesting thing about this book. The letters–Oh! I just love those parts–James writes these letters (to his fictional life *grin*) that he will never ever ever going to send. These letters has words that he really wants to say to the recipient but he can’t, so he just writes them down on paper.
One day, some of the letters went missing. And people start receiving letters from James. HE DID NOT SEND THEM.
I truly love those parts where he writes them. Full of emotion floating around the air.
NOTE: James got this idea from the book he read about Abraham Lincoln.

• I’m not sure how to put it in word exactly… but I felt like there are some parts where James was so ‘gay’ and then some point that deep inside him he thinks he’s not gay. He’s reluctant about it.
For me, it makes perfect sense for him to feel that way because he’s hiding it most of his life.
So what I’m saying is Kenneth Logan really did an excellent job wring this book! *thumbs up*

*grin* OH MY GOSH!
Is a crocodile (or alligator, I have no idea what that is) symbolizes something or what? And why does it look like a penis? WAHAHA. TOTALLY EYE CATCHY!!!

ARC provided by HarperTeen (HarperCollins Publishers) & Edelweiss in exchange of honest review. Thank you!

541 reviews6 followers
November 29, 2018
A bumpy road to honesty

I got a little confused in the beginning trying to keep track of who everyone was. Once I got that figured out, I could see down the road what risk James was taking with writing unsent letters to clear his mind. Great friends are tested, and the writing kept me interested in the conversations the boys and girls were having. I shed a tear with the final moments between James and Rex. 4.0 for Aaron.
Profile Image for TJ.
679 reviews52 followers
April 6, 2018
This was about what I expected: a coming of age/out of the closet story that was good, but I’d already seen most of it done elsewhere (and slightly better). If this sounds like a story you’d be into, you probably will be! It’s exactly what you expect! The author has a really great sense of humor, and I personally loved his dialogue. That said, most of the characters had the same exact sense of humor and wit, which made it hard to tell them apart at times. (Side note: take a drink every time someone raises their hands in defense and you’ll have had almost as many drinks as James!) So yeah, there were some things I really liked about this one! A few scenes really stood out, and it’s an important book in general. It feels like a very personal story from the author, and I’m sure much of himself went into it. That shows, for better and worse, worse being how some of the slang and stuff comes across from teens nowadays versus in his day. This one is a solid 4/5 stars for me! Not a favorite, but I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a good coming of age story, or one about coming out.
Profile Image for Alyssa.
29 reviews2 followers
December 24, 2017
I would say I’ve definitely seen this basic plot before - seemingly stereotypical jock with a sort-of girlfriend is actually gay and has to deal with that - but the story still felt fairly genuine, and I believe this had a lot to do with the characters. They all had flaws, they all made mistakes, they were all pretty stupid at times, and that’s what made them feel real. That’s what made me /like/ them, and the story. There was definitely a lot that happened throughout this book (because this is high school, and a lot always happens) and at times I found myself thinking “c’mon, that’s unrealistic” or “that’s a little over-the-top,” but honestly, that’s life sometimes.

So, if you like reading high school dramas with bullies, betrayal, sibling relationships, a bit of cute romance, and a sometimes frustrating main character who has to deal with coming out in the midst of trying to fix stupid mistakes he’s made, then this is the book for you.

Profile Image for Vernie♡.
180 reviews108 followers
December 8, 2018
“I stood on the driveway for a while longer, hands in my pockets, and stared up at the stars. I’d just gone on a date with another boy. No difference in the heavens.”

Still not entirely sure on my feelings for this book, but all around a pretty solid read. BUT ALSO I really want a sequel?!

This song totally fits the vibe of the book:
Surrender by Walk the Moon

“He has his arm draped around my shoulders. I look like I don't care who's watching.”
Profile Image for Aussie54.
300 reviews6 followers
August 3, 2019
I liked this but was confused as to how many letters James wrote. At times I went back through the book, searching for a particular letter, only to realise that not all letters were presented in the text. I planned to re-read the story after I’d finished it, as there were other things that confused me as well, but haven't done so yet. Even so, I liked it enough at this point to give it four stars.
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