Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “True Letters from a Fictional Life” as Want to Read:
True Letters from a Fictional Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

True Letters from a Fictional Life

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  2,283 ratings  ·  351 reviews
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
Hardcover, 326 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by HarperTeen
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about True Letters from a Fictional Life, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Joy Hm, maybe. I think in this book, that's kind of out of order; he starts out with the angst and kind of sheds it as he comes out. Not a lot of bullying…moreHm, maybe. I think in this book, that's kind of out of order; he starts out with the angst and kind of sheds it as he comes out. Not a lot of bullying of the main character, but of a supporting character. I like angst so I enjoyed it but if you're looking for escapism this isn't it.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,283 ratings  ·  351 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Apr 08, 2018 rated it liked it
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 st
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It remains sincerely baffling to me that everyone in the world is not obsessed with this hilarious, heart breaking, gorgeous little gem of a book.
(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 thou
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
Moony Eliver
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, lgbtqia, y-a
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 are flat, or perfect, or predictable. The voice of the seve
Taylor Knight
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 co
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, h
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 Fict
Kaje Harper
Sep 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, m-m, ya
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
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Kim at Divergent Gryffindor
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
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 09, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, young-adult
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. (view spoiler)

His friends sound like jerks (except for Hawkens, he's a stand up guy since the beginning til the end) altho in th
joey (thoughts and afterthoughts)
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.
Feb 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: lgbt, owned-ebook
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 th
Cassandra {semi-hiatus}
"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 abo
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbt-ya
What a ride this was! I've honestly been waiting for a book to come around where I felt so instantly drawn to main character because I truly saw myself. Reading this book really, really brought me back to my 16 year old age and finding that first love. We can all think back on that and remember that nothing every quite felt like that again-- nothing will be more special, regardless of how it ended (if it did). It was even more amazing to see a YA book accomplish complete realistic circumstances ...more
“‘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 at
Alexandra ☁
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
4,5 stars

(view spoiler)
May 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.6 / 5

I think that reading a young adult novel right after a literary masterpiece was a mistake, but even though I made that mistake I want to give the best review I can without comparing it to what I read last, now that comment is over... on with the review.

One moment, rings and a sphere. The next, tiny speck of light. You view something twice and even though it’s the same thing, the two views have nothing to do with each other. That happens with people, too, I guess. You think you’re seeing
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review was originally posted on 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
Rynn Yumako
Jun 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary, lgbt-ya
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 a
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: realistic
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 a ...more
Ashley Blake
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtqiap, young-adult
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.
- ̗̀  jess  ̖́-
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 st
Mike Oaks
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Te De
Jul 02, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a weird coincidence for me because I just read Shooter (by Caroline Pignat) which is also a debut book written by an English teacher. I suppose her book must have set the bar pretty high because it left me disappointed in TLFAFL. I don't want to be too petty and nitpick the excessive and inconsistent comma use (oops, I just did!) I suppose one of my biggest gripes with this book has to do with that annoying nugget of advice: "Show, don't tell."

In my opinion, that advice is well-meaning b
★MC's Corner★
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 go
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gay, do-not-own
Overall, I really enjoyed this book! It took me only four hours to read, and I think books like this are really important.

The author just GOT the way a teenage boy thinks, and the way a young, closeted gay person thinks. All the times I wanted to slap James on the back of the head, and just get him to TELL SOMEONE ELSE what he was mad or upset about, I had to stop and realize: that's how someone that age would actually think. That's how I would have reacted. The author wrote his point of view p
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 some ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Draw the Line
  • Whatever.: or how junior year became totally f$@ked
  • Because of Her
  • Frannie and Tru
  • Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity
  • Honestly Ben (Openly Straight, #2)
  • We Contain Multitudes
  • Caught in the Crossfire (Crossfire, #1)
  • Anything Could Happen
  • Gemini Bites
  • Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)
  • Wallaçonia
  • Jerkbait
  • Diamonds (Life According to Maps, #2)
  • Wonders of the Invisible World
  • Nightingale
  • Educating Simon
  • South of Sunshine
See similar books…
“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.” 19 likes
“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.” 11 likes
More quotes…