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This Is Not A Love Letter

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One week. That's all Jessie said. A one-week break to get some perspective before graduation, before she and her boyfriend, Chris, would have to make all the big, scary decisions about their future--decisions they had been fighting about for weeks.

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

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

Every Friday since they started dating, Chris has written Jessie a love letter. Now Jessie is writing Chris a letter of her own to tell him everything that’s happening while he’s gone. As Jessie searches for answers, she must face her fears, her guilt, and a past more complicated than she would like to admit.

368 pages, Hardcover

First published January 30, 2018

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About the author

Kim Purcell

8 books101 followers
Go to my website, http://www.kimpurcell.com, for all the gory details.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 220 reviews
Profile Image for Chelsea *Slowly Catching Up* Humphrey.
1,387 reviews77.2k followers
November 13, 2017

This book was all kinds of heavy; think heartbreaking and tragic, and the kind of resolution you feel as a reader you could have saved if only you could jump into the story and tell everyone where it all went wrong. As I’m sure you can tell by the title, Jessie is writing “journal entries” to “you” who is Chris, her boyfriend (although they were on a break). If you read the above blurb then you have all the information you need before going in, but prepare your heart my friends. This one is sad. While I felt the writing was really well done, I did find moments where certain things could have been chopped down and I wanted more detail on others. The revelation in the end I felt was well done and really made me want to weep; extra points for the included diversity and talking about hard things such as race and mental health. Recommended to fans of John Green’s writing and of many other popular contemporaries of today. Trigger warning for suicide and bullying.

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.
Profile Image for ReadAlongWithSue .
2,634 reviews170 followers
March 19, 2020
This is a hard hitting book that will leave you emotional.

It’s not the perfect book, there are things in there that could have easily been chopped out, but, you do get involved so much you can kind of excuse it somewhat.

I applaud the author for using subjects of diversity and mental health woven in this storyline which was expertly written.

A book I will remember for quite a while.
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,765 reviews577 followers
December 21, 2017
To keep both her heart and her mind from shattering, after Chris vanished, Jessie kept a running letter to him in her mind and in her heart. She told of her secrets, times they shared, emotions they shared and what she has been left with since he disappeared.

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

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

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

I received a complimentary ARC edition from Disney-Hyperion.

Publisher: Disney Hyperion (January 30, 2018)
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Genre: YA Fiction |
Print Length: 368 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
For Reviews & More: http://tometender.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Eilonwy.
814 reviews201 followers
February 28, 2018
A week before their high school graduation, Jessie is awoken on Saturday morning with the news that her boyfriend, Chris, never came home from a run the night before. As searches are put underway and everyone tries to figure out where he could be and what could have happened, Jessie addresses her thoughts to Chris. He always sent her love letters, folded into paper airplanes. She never gave him any letters. And she’s not starting now, because this is definitely not a love letter. Right?
This is a hard-to-categorize book.

The first half felt to me like an unsatisfactory TV mystery-procedural show, where instead of watching the detectives, you watch the people who have suffered the loss. And nothing really happens, because they’re mostly waiting to hear from the detectives. I had Jessie’s word for it that she missed Chris and was worried, but I didn’t feel much connection to her, or between them. Also, the entire book is written like a letter to “you”/Chris, and I think that created distance for me until I got used to it.

Then the second half of the book really picked up for me, and I zoomed through it. As the time after Chris’s disappearance got longer, and the likelihood of finding him alive (or at all) lessened, and a combined sense of desperation and resignation among his family and friends settled in, the story lost some of that procedural feeling and gained more intimacy. There’s still a bit of a mystery plot to keep the tension going, as jealousy and resentment from a well-to-do white baseball player may be a motive for harming Chris, who is the only black baseball player in town and who received a full-ride scholarship to college. It’s also revealed that Chris suffered from some mental health issues before his family moved across the country, from Brooklyn to eastern Washington. Jessie isn’t free from mental health concerns, either, as her mother is a hoarder with major issues, and Jessie has had to take on a lot of adult responsibility. Under the stress of uncertainty and fear, Jessie has to drop some of her tough act and show some vulnerability, resulting in her developing greater closeness with her own slightly-estranged best friend, and Chris’s best friend as well. So there’s quite a bit going on in this story. It ends up being more “meaty YA contemporary” than suspense/thriller.

The ending is quiet, subdued, and moving, and made me choke up. This is a very bittersweet, sad story. And I love that it was brave enough to be this sad.

The one thing that disappointed me about this book is
Profile Image for Fafa's Book Corner.
510 reviews297 followers
September 6, 2017
Mini review:


I received this E-ARC via the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I saw this book on Netgalley and liked the synopsis. So I requested it. Unfortunately it wasn't for me.

The writing style turned me off. And some of the wording was off. I liked how racial profiling was mentioned and racism. That was well done.

As I already know the ending I think everyone should read this. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer.
1,512 reviews5 followers
January 27, 2018
Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

When Chris, her straight A, athletic scholarship African American boyfriend disappears she simply can't believe the story the police come up with! Jessie blames herself for their one-week break, because she didn't stop him from running along the river, the same place where he was beat up 3 weeks previously. Now Jessie is writing Chris a letter of her own to tell him everything that’s happening while he’s gone and along the way face the guilt of a past more complicated than she wants to admit.

The short review...

I was totally drawn into the story of Jessie! This is a character driven look at the stunning shock of a person you love disappearing. It was stunning! I desperately wanted Jessie to find Chris or at least learn who did this to him... and I wasn't disappointed, though it is quite shocking even as you feel a creeping horror that it is what you are starting to suspect. I can't say any more without spoilers.

I do want to warn readers that the narrative will read in a totally unique way. At first you'll think this writing is really off / odd / uncomfortable. ACCEPT IT! I'm begging you to cast off those thoughts and allow yourself to be pulled into Jessie's story. As you learn more about Jessie and her insecurities you'll start to realize it doesn't matter this girl talks a little off / odd / uncomfortable. Chris loved her and she really is quite a lovely human being... The journey is beautiful, evocative and soul crushing.

Cover & Title grade -> A+

I LOVED this cover... There is something about the smudgy water color that spoke to me. It isn't explicit in illustrating what this story is about... but then you read the book and get to that end and think... I UNDERSTAND! I get the colors and that smudgy sky with a hint of tree line. And its so beautiful!

Why MUST you read this book!?

Really you could read my short review and see why I LOVE this book and why I think you should too. But here are a few more reasons and I'll try not to spoil too much...

Chris is one of the, if not the sole, African American in the town, yet he's loved! Not only by his family but by his best friend, his girlfriend (Jessie) and a small group of other kids. As Jessie tries to learn what happened to Chris she and his best friend start to talk about the past week. It is a hard look at the sometimes tragic nature of friendship. Then we have Jessie's best friend Steph who supports her friend like nobody's business! We got dual perspectives on friendship in a way that was natural and beautiful!

Chris was able to get out of Brooklyn due to parents who loved and adored him and were willing to sacrifice to save him if they could. Depression follows you everywhere. It is a mental illness that some people believe doesn't exist and which makes people rather uncomfortable. It isn't about what you are doing but what is going on in their head as they struggle with these feelings that are swamping their body. It is debilitating and real. It is easily missed and hidden. You'll get up close and personal with it in the course of the story... it'll be hard but well worth the understanding you'll feel coming out the other side.

This was one of the more fascinating aspects of the story. It is subtle and yet without this aspect I think the story would have been a more hum-drum grief and loss rather than shockingly good. I don't want to ruin this but Jessie feels race has a lot to do with what happened and passionately doesn't stand by to allow the perpetrators to get away with what they've done... Sometimes though people are just people and not the sum total of their skin color.

As a Writer...

I'm really, really sad when readers can't tell good writing! The syntax of the narrative was obviously written so that you could hear Jessie's low income, small town background. She is a little crass and a little odd, but Chris loved her. Chris, this proven STAR had fallen for this sweet and caring girl that readers were calling "bad writing."

And this only proves to me how EXPERTLY Kim Purcell wrote this character! To put it as crassly as Jessie, she's white trash. I don't mean that in a bad way. She is who she is and that's okay. But she DOES NOT talk like a middle class high schooler from the big city. This in fact was HER FEAR about Chris. That he would realize they were at different levels and abandon her.

Every detail of the story supported the flow of the plot and why Jessie first assumed what she did and why she NEVER would even admit Chris had the problems he did. The world building was as superb as the writing! And Jessie was so authentic... This is from my notes:

"I’m really enjoying the voice of Jesse, you can tell she’s a little poor but a sweet girl who is a little clueless. I like how she’s going over the last bit of time, between talking to his mom and her BFF Steph. It was super natural! I’m also dying to know what happened to him! I like the oddity of her writing this letter to him."

I'm sorry to be obscure about the story... I LOVED it... It's different and unique with a blend of natural fears and conclusions with mental illness at their root. Jessie's voice is the star of the book. She feels like she’s from a small town, someplace she must escape from. We aren’t just told it but you FEEL it!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Authenticity
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Writing Style
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ World Building

BOTTOM LINE: Beautiful Writing with Elements of Race and Mental Illness

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. It has not influenced my opinions.

You can find this review and many others on my book blog @ Perspective of a Writer. See my special perspective at the bottom of my reviews under the typewriter...
Profile Image for Gray Cox.
Author 4 books164 followers
March 16, 2018
This was sad... the book would've been so heartbreaking and heavy, if it wasn't for paragraphs like this:

My pee lasts for thirty-two seconds. My record is a hundred and seven. I wonder if you count your pee. We never talk about this stuff, but we should. Bathroom habits are fascinating. When you get back, I expect answers about all things bathroom related.

And sentences like this:

My eyes are slippery puddles.

*bursts out laughing*


Yeah, I couldn't stand the writing style, it was dry and very juvenile. The author tried to address racism, and although her message was good, it was drowned out by pages and pages of purple prose and ramblings.
Profile Image for Casey.
187 reviews9 followers
December 19, 2018
Absolutely beautiful. Again, I am blown away by Kim Purcell and her moving stories. All I have to say is that I found this book to be perfect and I was unable to put it down. “This is Not a Love Letter” is a must read and I rate it 5 stars.
Profile Image for Dylan.
547 reviews230 followers
January 6, 2018
I'm going to have a full review up on teenreads.com soon, but just wanted to give a few quick thoughts.

This was one of the worst written books I've ever read. The quotes below will show you the sheer lack of editing, and the overall just bad writing. Also, Purcell tries to add social commentary about racism in the story, but it's too surface level for it to even do anything. I could definitely tell that this was written by a white woman from Canada.

“My eyes are slippery puddles”

“My pee lasts for thirty-two seconds. My record is a hundred and seven. I wonder if you count your pee. We never talk about this stuff, but we should. Bathroom habits are fascinating. When you get back, I expect answers about all things bathroom related.”

“He was missing a tooth but he wasn’t homeless or anything, he just randomly didn’t have a tooth.”
Profile Image for Joleen (starlightbooktales).
341 reviews311 followers
December 15, 2017
Let me start by saying this is a Netgalley review, I received it for free for an honest review.

3.5 Stars

This letter style book was not my favorite, it had its moments. The letters are written by Jessie to her boyfriend Chris who has gone missing after a late-night run. In this letters, we get the history and background on the relationship and friendships surrounding the couple. Jessie searches for answers as to where her boyfriend who seemed to have it all could have gone. The pressure placed on the town by Jessie has consequences and it leads to some devastating discoveries. It’s a story about race, mental illness and the hardships of being young and in love.

I didn’t love it for one reason, I would have given it 4 solid stars if it had focused on mental illness just a bit more. I personally would have likes more closure on that part, but I understand that not everyone gets that. So, in a way it is realistic. I appreciate the author focusing on the heavy issues we see today, but I just don’t think this book was for me.
Profile Image for Sarah {Literary Meanderings}.
680 reviews283 followers
January 11, 2018

• Find my reviews here: Literary Meanderings

- - -

This Is Not A Love Letter was a great way to start off my year! I love mysteries. This book started the year off with a bang.

The book starts off with Chris already missing. He and Jessie are taking a “break” for one week to gain some perspective on their futures and their relationship. This was, of course, Jessie's idea. Chris wanted nothing to do with it. So, naturally, when Chris goes missing, Jessie thinks she may have scared him off by pushing him away.

When we first learn Chris is missing, Jessie has a theory immediately. Some kids from another school beat him up a few weeks prior and she is worried they may have done it again, only taken it much further. We follow Jessie throughout the investigation and see her constantly go back to these guys. Josh, Chris' best friend, has another theory. What if Chris jumped into the quarry? What if he took his own life? There are some signs pointing toward depression and possible suicide, but Jessie refuses to even think it.
“Please don't be in the river.”

“You're terrified of the river. I'm terrified of fire. You think I'd light myself on fire?”
Let's talk about characters.

Jessie is such a wonderful character. I adore her for the fact that she is realistic. She isn't perfectly beautiful and she isn't popular and doesn't have the perfect family. She also isn't a complete screw-up who deals with her pain via drugs or drinking. She is just a girl who wants to know what happened to her missing boyfriend. She is missing a father figure in her life. Her mother is a hoarder and extremely obese; she barely leaves her bedroom. Jessie struggles to help take care of the home along with going to school and applying to colleges. She is a good person but has her flaws—such as her temper, which we witness a few times in the story.

Chris is not present in the book in the current sense, but as Jessie narrates the story (directly to Chris, as this book is sort of one, long letter to Chris from Jessie) she reminiscences, if you will, about past moments with Chris. This was a great way for the reader to get to know Chris and how amazing he was. He was a stand-up kind of guy. He didn't like fighting and violence. He was honest, kind, and loving. He was part of a Jehovah's Witness family, which he struggled with a bit, and had a younger sister who adored him. Chris' family was pretty close with Jessie, so we see quite a bit of them in the book. I think the author did a great job of showing us who Chris was so that we could really feel how sad it was that he was missing.

The mystery was done very well. I was questioning throughout the book who may have hurt Chris or taken him, or possibly what he had done himself, whether it be leave town or commit suicide. The book pointed in a few different directions, but in a good way. It wasn't messy or confusing, but very suspenseful.

This Is Not A Love Letter could definitely be considered a diverse book. There is a “gay-best-friend” type of character. Jessie works as a lifeguard at a local swimming pool and meets him there. He's close to her and painted in a good light. I enjoyed his character and he plays a significant part in the book. Jessie and Chris are also in an interracial relationship (Jessie being white, Chris being black). They struggle with this slightly, as some of their peers are judgemental. Chris struggles alone with his race as well. This being why those guys beat him up prior to the story beginning. They are privileged white boys and didn't like that a black kid was being scouted for a college team, etc.
“I don't blame you for wanting to leave.

This town was built on racism...”
It is also rare to see a Jehovah's Witness family in YA (correct me if I am wrong). I think people assume they are all crazy, but this book shed a little light on how they actually think. It wasn't a highlight, but just a small hint of it. I think each of these diverse issues were written well and handled respectfully.

The only real con I had was some of the grammar. I think the author tried to show how Jessie was a “lower-class” girl and didn't speak “properly” at times. For example, instead of saying “I have to go” she would say “I got to go” (I gotta go wouldn't have bugged me as much)... I honestly just found it to be an annoyance more than anything. Not a big deal, but worth mentioning.

Overall, this book was great! I think the story is relevant and I think the author really thought out the plot and executed it to perfection. I enjoyed the characters and their dynamics. I enjoyed the mystery and suspense. I think it was an all-around great read.

What happened to Chris, though? I won't spoil it, but you should check out the book to see for yourself! :)

- - -

Book source: From the publisher for review
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

��� For more of my reviews, check out my blog!

You can also find them via my YouTube channel here!

Profile Image for Agnė.
744 reviews57 followers
October 28, 2017
This Is Not a Love Letter is a socially conscious contemporary young adult mystery that takes readers on an emotional roller-coaster ride while addressing racial tensions, class issues, .

Chris, an African-American “Straight A Student, Super Athlete,” did not come back home after his Friday night run along the river. Just three weeks ago, while jogging along the same trail, he was jumped and beaten to a pulp by a group of rich white boys from the rival high school. Jessie, Chris’s white girlfriend from a poor household, does not believe in coincidences and suspects Chris might have become the victim of a hate crime. Appalled by Jessie’s accusations, some residents of her small, predominantly white paper mill town in the Northwest attempt to discredit Chris and even threaten Jessie. But when a new theory of Chris’s disappearance emerges, Jessie is forced to reconsider everything she knows about her boyfriend.

Both Chris’s and Jessie’s characters are realistically complex, and the racial and class prejudices they face ring true. The first-person present-tense narrative from Jessie’s perspective is immediate, suspenseful, and emotionally engaging. Thus, sooner rather than later the readers are bound to share Jessie’s fears, hopes, suspicions, and doubts. However, the epistolary form full of dialogue (Jessie is writing a letter to Chris, which documents hour-by-hour events following his disappearance) requires some suspension of disbelief. Nevertheless, cleverly placed clues and red herrings, an emotional investment in the story, and a desire for resolution keep the pages turning.
Profile Image for catherine ♡.
1,129 reviews148 followers
November 4, 2020
*Thank you to the publishers and Netgalley for a free e-copy in exchange for an honest review!*

Actual Rating: 3

The cover of this book is honestly so beautiful. And fitting too. And just from reading the premise, I knew this book would be a heart-breaker. The story is written like a letter, from Jessie to Chris. A week before graduation, Jessie told Chris they should go on a break, to "get some perspective" on their future. But then, Chris disappears, and Jessie remembers the three boys from the rival high school that beat Chris up three weeks ago. She's determined to prove that they had something to do with Chris' disappearance. But Chris is one of the black kids where they live, and people refuse to believe that his skin color could be part of the story. And yet, Jessie is also missing pieces - and the truth is not too easy to process.

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

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

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

Overall, I'd still definitely recommend this to people to read, as I feel like it addresses a lot of important issues in today's society in a very extreme and eye-0pening way. Either way, I feel like this is a story that'll leave you thinking and maybe even shedding a few tears.
Profile Image for chloe yeung ♡.
392 reviews265 followers
September 3, 2017
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


My pee lasts for thirty-two seconds. My record is a hundred and seven. I wonder if you count your pee. We never talk about this stuff, but we should. Bathroom habits are fascinating. When you get back, I expect answers about all things bathroom related.

Sadly, Jessie never got the chance to ask Chris bathroom related questions.

I wasn't sure about this book at first (Jess keeps saying "you" and I got reeeeaaalllyy confused. Turns out "you" means Chris. :P) but then I got absorbed in the story and OH WHAT A HEARTBREAKING BOOK.

Jessie's my favorite character in this book because she's super relatable. She likes the feeling of digging out eye crusties. I LOVE DIGGING OUT EYE CRUSTIES TOO IT'S SO SATISFYING

Chris is a really sweet and considerate guy and when he goes missing, Jess and her friends try to find him. Jessie believes that he is still alive, but some of his friends think he took his own life. I really didn't expect his friends to be right all along!

When Jessie finds out about Chris's death, she cries. I cried along with her. It's so sad and I couldn't help it.

Will recommend to anyone who loves mystery and YA contemporary. (Reminder: prepare box of tissues before reading.)

Final ratings:
Plot: 5 out of 5 - SUSPENSE
Characters: 5 out of 5 - Jess's friends are all so supportive and thoughtful. Love them!
Writing: 2 out of 5
Interest: 2 out of 5
The Feels and emotions: 5 out of 5
Ending: 5 out of 5
Profile Image for Darla.
3,147 reviews448 followers
February 2, 2018
What would you do if you woke up on the Saturday before your high school graduation and realized that your boyfriend is missing -- the boyfriend you asked for a one-week break so you could ponder some of the big decisions he wanted the two of you to make about your future? Jessie writes him a letter. As we follow Jessie's narrative we realize that she is white and her boyfriend is black. That they live in a small town which is more racist than they want to admit. That there are mental health problems in both of their homes.

This is not an easy book to read. You will read about racism, abuse, mental illness, suicide and watch through Jessie's eyes as the search for Chris becomes more intense. Would not recommend for young teens, but older teens will learn about the importance of talking to others about your struggles and about being that person who provides support and love for the people in your life.
Profile Image for Maureen.
1,031 reviews32 followers
January 31, 2018
When I read the book description of ‘This is Not a Love Letter’ when I first saw the book on Netgalley, I immediately found myself interested. I love reading a nice romance. And this book was supposedly a romance story with some suspense. A perfect combination, is you ask me. So when my request got accepted I was super excited.

‘This is Not a Love Letter’ is a book unlike any other I read. The book is written through the eyes of Jessie. To be correct, the book is supposedly written by Jessie. It’s a letter for her boyfriend Chris who suddenly disappeared after they took a little break. And this was definitely something that made this book very interesting and kind of unique.

Throughout ‘This is Not a Love Letter’ we follow Jessie’s search for Chris. We read about her search through town, and through the places they went together. We read about all the different emotions she went through. And we also read about what Jessie would like to say to Chris, if he was there. There are some flashbacks to moments in the relationship between Jessie and Chris. And I just really enjoyed reading it.

What made me keep reading this book was definitely the not knowing what happened to Chris and if he would ever be found. There were so many questions about his disappearance and this book kept me hooked till the very last page. I loved how we found out more and more about Chris and the way he felt. There was some powerful message in this book and I really enjoyed reading it.

Reading ‘This is Not a Love Letter’ definitely left me feeling emotional. Without spoiling the book completely, in case you haven’t read it, the ending was rather sad but also beautiful in a way. And what I loved most was the way this book was supposedly a letter for Chris. It felt personal, and I loved that.

‘This is Not a Love Letter’ was definitely a beautiful and touching read. And I would definitely recommend it. Especially for young adults.
Profile Image for Heaven.
128 reviews42 followers
January 2, 2018

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

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

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

Thank you Netgalley and the publishers for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Shannon.
467 reviews16 followers
July 18, 2017
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The storyline of this book is fantastic. It's suspenseful, heartbreaking, hopeful, all in one. The main character is incredibly relatable, even though she struggles with things a lot of teens don't have to handle, like an agoraphobic pack-rat mother. In a lot of novels featuring teens, I feel like the characters have kind of all-or-nothing personalities that don't really match real teens. They are either totally confident and 100% have their lives together or they are complete messes. Jessie is the perfect mix of both. She has her issues and her doubts, but she also has these amazing moments of clarity and confidence. I love her as a character.

Just a few nit-picky things that kept me from giving the book a five star rating. The format of Jessie writing a letter to Chris took a little while to get used to. For about the first third of the book, every time she said "you," meaning Chris, it kind of jolted me out of the story. There were also some grammar issues here and there that bugged me. I felt like the author just threw in some grammatical mistakes to make Jessie seem like more of a "real teen." Which is fine in some stories, but it has to be consistent. Since her grammar was correct most of the time, those few instances were a bit jarring.
Profile Image for Jenny Bravo.
340 reviews9 followers
December 14, 2017
I can't even fathom writing a review right now. I am a mess. My heart is so completely shattered. I've never ever cried so hard while reading. My emotions are in shock. I will have to write my review tomorrow.
Profile Image for Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries).
1,202 reviews391 followers
April 3, 2018
See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! I originally got an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley, but because it was missing both important text conversations and any passages after/on the same page as those convos, I bought a proper ebook of it and read that instead.

The strong points of and problems with This Is Not a Love Letter are easy to outline. Lord, this could have been great! For a while, it was great. Then it wasn't once I finished reading.

Purcell absolutely nailed Jessie's narrative voice. Just reading the book on my Kindle made me tear up because little quirks in her speech and the palpable desperation of her letters to her missing boyfriend Chris made it all so clear and real. Had I been listening to the audiobook, I would have been bawling at the end. Only a legendarily bad narrator could possibly dampen such raw emotion. Jessie herself is a well-drawn character who is clearly in love with Chris and hesitant to take the leap with him that he wanted before his disappearance.

At the same time, some of this writing was awful. Really awful, like the oft-cited "my eyes were slippery puddles" line and the baffling decision to mention that she counts how long pees for (32 seconds at the time she wrote it, record time of 107 seconds). That's extremely TMI as well as worrying for both Jessie and her bladder. Counting how long you let loose a stream of pee? Weird. Peeing continuously for 1 minute and 47 seconds? Please see a doctor because holding your pee in long enough for that to happen probably caused damage to your bladder.

But Jessie's complex characterization and lifelike narrative voice can't save This Is Not a Love Letter from the fact that it's a book about how a white girl's life is changed by the disappearance of her mentally ill black boyfriend.

Though the book is written in the form of letters to Chris and the events of the novel center on the entire town looking for him, the novel is never actually about Chris. It's all about Jessie all the time. Chris's mother even calls Jessie out for being so self-centered amid the events of the novel, but that doesn't erase or even make okay the fact that this book is solely about how Chris's existence changed Jessie's life. Because of him, she applied for a passport, actually considered life beyond being white trash from the Pacific Northwest, and generally learned to live.

This is not how you write black characters, especially so if they have depression like Chris. Such characters should not exist as devices through which white people learn to really live life, but that's exactly what he is. Chris exists to be Jessie's Magical Negro. Absolutely infuriating.

The only possible reason I'd recommend this novel is to simultaneously give a writer an education on voice and on how not to write marginalized characters. We could have had it all! But no. Brilliant writing dampened by offensive narrative choices.
Profile Image for Jessica C Writes.
535 reviews49 followers
February 12, 2018
This book is incredibly devastating to read, and it really took a lot out of me, emotionally. The topics that it deals with are heartbreaking and heavy. The plot overall was interesting, but that is the only thing that make me keep reading.

I personally was not a fan of the writing style at all. I found it distracting and confusing because the main character was writing letters to her missing boyfriend and continuously referred to him as "you." Also, I just could not relate to the main character, Jessie, at all. I found her a little bit annoying at times.

Plus, the titles of the chapters were really confusing. I think that each title should have contained a date, not just the ones in present time. It would have created a better storyline for me personally.

However, I did enjoy the story in terms of plot. I believe it could have been executed better, but overall it was an okay book.
Profile Image for Daphnee (daphneereads).
285 reviews153 followers
January 7, 2018
This is not a love letter by Kim Purcell was surprising. It’s about a boy, Chris,
that goes missing and the character evolution of Jessie, his girlfriend, in form of a letter. I really enjoyed it, it kept my heart racing and aching. They are some trigger warnings for mental illnesses and self-arm. Thank you for the free ebook copy.
Profile Image for Kristine Reyes.
18 reviews
January 15, 2019
I couldn’t put this book down! I read for 1 day straight while on a moving vehicle. From the first chapter until the end, it kept me wanting for more and longing for these lovers’ reunion. I like that Kim included 2 valid points, racism and mental illness, into the picture - it was done beautifully albeit not so much elaborated since it’s just a part of the whole book. What I liked the most is the potentially beautiful and lasting relationship between Jessie and Chris. Sure, they’re not the perfect couple but they are, certainly, a match.

Oh, I hate that I cried buckets for this. The ending is a hard truth but a truth nonetheless. It’s really personal to me since someone close to me went through the same thing and it’s not something to be ignored.

I highly recommend this!
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,261 reviews214 followers
January 6, 2020

When Jessie’s boyfriend Chris goes missing, she writes him a series of letters while trying to find him.

THIS IS NOT A LOVE LETTER starts off okay, and gets progressively worse. I never felt like I knew Chris, so caring about his whereabouts proved difficult. Kim Purcell tried to hit on a number of topical issues like race, mental illness and class.

Because Chris was the only Black kid, he’s subject to overt and covert racism. He’s called the N-word. The police assume he’s a criminal though he has a spotless record. Jessie desperately wants to be woke, sees racism everywhere (and she’s usually right) but goes about calling it out in ways that aren’t always helpful to the search for Chris.

Jessie’s mom is a hoarder, depressed and possibly agoraphobic, though Purcell mostly addresses the mess missing an opportunity to hone in on the illness. The mental illnesses of Chris and his father also don’t receive adequate attention.

The search for Chris encompasses most of THIS IS NOT A LOVE LETTER which becomes repetitive and sometimes boring.

I can’t recommend this book.
Profile Image for Khristina Chess.
Author 8 books94 followers
March 3, 2020
A hard-hitting story that combines mental illness and racism. Recommended for fans of John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down.

Chris is missing.

While he’s gone, his girlfriend Jessie decides to write letters to him, so the entire book is a series of scenes narrated to Chris. The mystery of his disappearance deepens as more of the bullying that Chris had endured unfolds.

Heartbreaking, beautiful, and powerful, Jessie’s letters are her way of coming to terms with the fact that the boy she loved went running one night but never came home again.

This book has an unusual structure of being written to a missing person "you" that sometimes feels awkward and disruptive to the storytelling. I also wanted more backstory about Chris and felt something was left out, but maybe that was necessary for the mystery from Jesse's point of view. The setting was richly drawn and a vibrant part of the story. I knew this world. Overall, a good read.
Profile Image for Danielle Zaydon.
93 reviews19 followers
January 6, 2018
TW: depression, suicide, racism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you to NetGalley and Kim Purcell for the advanced copy of this book in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Vicki (MyArmchairAdventures).
392 reviews21 followers
November 7, 2017
Thank you to @netgalley and @disneybooks for providing a copy of This is Not a Love Letter to me in exchange for my honest review. Jessie has told her boyfriend Chris that they need a one week break. Chris has been offered a baseball scholarship to college and he wants to marry Jessie right after high school while Jessie’s not sure that’s the best decision for their future. Then, Chris vanishes and the story unfolds as Jessie writes a letter to Chris telling him everything she should have told him when they were together. This story kept me on the edge of my seat and I wasn’t sure of the outcome until the very end. I don’t read a ton of YA but this one seemed to throw in one too many social issues for me. Chris is one of only a few black kids in a depressed, small town in the Northwest. The issues raised included racial tensions, homosexuality, teen drinking and sex, depression, hoarding, single parent families, economic disparity and mean girls. Whew. A lot of stuff going on in this one. One resolution at the ending was too unbelievable for me. Too pat and easy. This one publishes on January 30, 2018. Despite a couple of flaws, I’m putting this one on my recommend list because of the message it provides around the core issue addressed (intentionally vague so I don’t provide any spoilers). Also, it’s a sweet love story with a good message about not taking people for granted and to not be afraid to share your feelings and emotions with those you love. Because of the heavier issues, age 14 and up.
Profile Image for Amy.
1,045 reviews31 followers
December 25, 2018
I found this book after doing multiple random clicks on my local public library's homepage to get to their list of book club titles, and instead found some person's top picks of recently published books. I am here to tell you that this was the reading gods intervening because I needed something like this to read. My last books have been kind of ho-hum, and this was definitely not. I was fighting back tears at the end and loved the style of the book-Jessie, the narrator, is writing a letter to her boyfriend Chris who has gone missing. She is keeping him updated on the search for him, and telling him the secrets from their time together that he might not have known. It was heartbreaking, and real, and honest, and hopeful. Highly recommend for YA collections where readers enjoy realistic fiction with a bit of an edge.

Jessie and her boyfriend Chris are on a break. Not broken up, but on a week-long break to gain some perspective before graduation. But now, Chris has gone missing. And while he didn't want Jessie to tell anyone the truth about what happened a few weeks ago, she thinks it is unavoidable now. Because it was the same running trail, at the same time of night, that he got jumped by some white guys and beat up, even though he didn't want to fight back. Jessie is convinced they could have gone after him again, but the more she searches for the truth, the more she has to realize there are things he never told her about himself and that she never shared about her past either. And the truth is often more complicated that you want it to be.
Profile Image for The_reading_foodie.
460 reviews16 followers
January 30, 2018
Thank you @netgalley for providing me with the ARC of #ThisIsNotALoveLetter by @typingthumbs #KimPurcell.
Jessie wakes up one day to find out her boyfriend Chris is missing. He went for a run the night before and never made it back home. Jessie and Chris’s friends are doing everything the can to search for him. It comes to light that Chris was jumped by some guys for the color of him skin. He is an African American in a predominantly white town. It also comes out that Chris has been struggling with depression. All Jessie wants to know is what happened to Chris.
If you do not want to cry then do not read this book. It took me about a quarter of the book to get into the writing style but the actual story pulled me in. It touches on two difficult topics, racism and mental illness. You know from the beginning that something obviously happened to Chris, the question becomes is he a victim or was it self inflicted.
The story was good but honestly I can’t necessarily say I enjoyed it because it was just so sad. If you are interested in a good emotional read be sure to check out This Is Not A Love Letter releasing today, January 30th.
Profile Image for Sarah A.
238 reviews9 followers
January 31, 2018
This Is Not a Love Letter is an interesting YA novel. It follows Jessie, a girl about to graduate high school whose boyfriend just went missing. When Chris went missing, he and Jessie were on a break, a week-long break she requested to get some perspective about their futures. Chris went missing while he was running on a path by a river, and Jessie is almost sure it has something to do with the boys who assaulted him near the same river recently. In their small town, Chris is one of the few black boys and Jessie (who is white) is terrified something horrible has happened to him. As she speaks out, things become increasingly murkier and increasingly dangerous for Jessie. As Jessie deals with Chris’s disappearance, she decides to write him a letter to describe what’s happening while he’s gone, as he’s written her love letters every Friday since they’ve been together.

I liked this book, but I have some complicated feelings about it. The epistolary style works very well to tell the story, and I thought it was a great way to read it. Jessie, being a teenager dealing with big stuff, doesn’t always make the best choices in her handling of the situation, but that’s to be expected and it’s really great to see everything through her eyes. She also has a lot on her plate, in addition to Chris’s disappearance and it’s interesting to see how she handles (or doesn’t handle) everything.
This book also tackles some big issues, from mental health to racism. I felt like it did some of these well, and others not as well. I feel like the mental health issues dealt with were realistic and handled with sensitivity. It was more subtly woven through the story at times than the racism aspect, and I felt like it was skillfully done. On the other hand, I feel like the racism issues were handled a lot more bluntly, and I felt like it mainly touched the surface of a lot of the issues, but the fact that they are presented is important. I also liked how Jessie took time to confront her own prejudices and thoughts at times throughout the book, and I felt like that was very valuable.

This book was a hard book to put down. I really cared deeply about what happened to Chris, and I felt for Jessie and the people in their lives as they dealt with this horrible situation. I had a lot of anger throughout the book, and I also had a lot of tears. If you’re in the mood for a mystery with heart, I do recommend this book.
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