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We Contain Multitudes

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  5,553 ratings  ·  1,162 reviews
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe meets I'll Give You the Sun in an exhilarating and emotional novel about the growing relationship between two teen boys, told through the letters they write to one another.

Jonathan Hopkirk and Adam "Kurl" Kurlansky are partnered in English class, writing letters to one another in a weekly pen pal assignment. With eac
Hardcover, 377 pages
Published May 14th 2019 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Amy I would love a sequel. More Jo and Kurt. What happens with Lyle and Shayna. If we can’t have it in Jo and Kurt’s voice and as a full length, I’d a tak…moreI would love a sequel. More Jo and Kurt. What happens with Lyle and Shayna. If we can’t have it in Jo and Kurt’s voice and as a full length, I’d a take a novella with Bron narrating where they all are. This book moved me. (less)

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Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,553 ratings  ·  1,162 reviews

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Larry H
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book, to borrow a phrase from one of the main characters, utterly undid me. We Contain Multitudes was exactly what I hoped it would be: a gorgeously moving, beautifully told, thought-provoking story of friendship, love, truth, and secrets. I read most of this on a plane ride and it was the first of two books I read that had me in tears, which is always a condition I try to avoid on airplanes!!

Adam "Kurl" Kurlansky is a football player repeating his senior year of high school, a quiet gi
may ➹
My face when I finished this book truly looked like this:

1 and a half stars, baby!! What an honor it is to this book that it’s the first book I’ve rated under 3 stars this year!!!

First of all, I want to say that this book is just written really beautifully. (This is pretty much the only pro.) I could pull so many quotes from it, and I think a lot of people could read them and think they were beautiful as well. There were some moments while I was reading where I just thought, Wow. Okay, at some s
Jul 16, 2020 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 13, 2018 marked it as to-read
2019 is rocking with all these new gay releases!
h o l l i s
May 30, 2019 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
DNF at 90 pages

The problem with a 100% epistolary novel is when your protagonists exist in the same space, in this case a high school, and you want them to have dialogue and face-to-face interactions. So you decide to have the penpals literally recounting situations the other was present for. "When you brought in the groceries, you said this, she said that, this happened next.." it makes no actual fucking sense to write a letter to someone this way. The person was there. I don't want someone giv
Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)

Many thanks to Little Brown Books for Young Readers for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

I went into this expecting romance... And it didn't come. Sure, there were two boys who were talking back and forth but there was absolutely no chemistry and I really didn't connect with either main character. I actually disliked them both.

Sure, I did DNF this so maybe it DID get better (I seriously doubt it but still...) But what I read was not enjoyable.

I also had a hard time with the fac
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

DNF @ p.29

This is too blech for me. The characters read as being much older than they actually are, and it has that aggressively snarky and twee "vibe" that made me dislike RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE so much.

I think this will appeal to fans of Casey McQuiston and other YA and NA-age books in that vein, but something about those M/M books feels kind of inauthentic to me, and lately I find myself reaching for the #ownvoices ones more and mor
5 stars

I’m a seeker of epistolary romance stories and a lover of LGBT fiction, so the idea behind this story, with the main characters, Jonathan Hopkirk and Adam “Kurl” Kurlanksy, falling in love while writing letters to one another for a class assignment, was right up my alley.

I found the writing and the characters instantly compelling, with a prose so beautiful and affecting, I couldn’t decide if the language and ideas these boys wielded with their words was awe-inspiring or pretentious AF. E
Lauren Lanz
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
We’ve all come across a book so wonderful, you’re utterly transfixed and absorbed in every possible way. Those few moments you look up from the pages are done so with dreary eyes; reality seems secondary to what you’ve just experienced.

We Contain Multitudes is beautiful in its simplicity. We are shown a love story between two boys, their journey of heart and healing through letters.

When Jonathan Hopkirk and Adam Kurlansky are paired up for a class writing assignment, they didn’t know what to ex
May 20, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars

I had been anticipating this novel since it is Sarah Henstra’s first YA book and I must say that I was deeply happy with some things and not so happy with others.

Let’s start with what I enjoyed.
I liked the fact that it was all an epistolary novel, it’s a very original concept for a YA book and I think it was set up very well. I enjoyed seeing the two main characters giving both their points of view on the same matter and also trying to catch up with the letters they sent each other.

Melanie A. *mostly on hiatus*
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Melanie by: Amber’s reading
Audio: 5+ STARS!!!
Story: 4.5 STARS!

Wow! What an incredible journey.

We Contain Multitudes is the story of two boys who couldn't be more different; Kurl, the popular jock who's repeating his last year of high school, and Jonathan, the outcast sophomore who deals with bullies everyday.

I know what you're thinking . . . that this is a bit of a cliché. But, wow, Sarah Henstra easily skirted that pitfall by digging DEEP. The title is incredibly apt here as both Jonathan and Kurl are stripped back layer
Mar 20, 2021 rated it did not like it
fuck no. horrible, wrong, & disturbing. i won’t elaborate, don’t fucking read this shit

edit: ok i will elaborate. this hurt the LGBTQ+ community in many ways (just look at fish’s 1 star review and you will understand)
May 20, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
a bunch of bullshit and a waste of time.

i kinda wonder what goes through a woman's mind when she decides she's going to write a novel about two gay boys and the abuse and violent homophobia they face. they say write what you know for a reason sometimes...

honestly the first 3/4 of the book were fine. if i had stopped reading at the 3/4 mark i probably would have given the book a solid three stars.

the book is all written in letters by jo and kurl to each other, which sometimes felt awkward when t
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
a moment of silence for all the great characters who got screwed over by shitty plots

for them as wants to know exactly: (view spoiler)
Amber’s reading
I LOVED this book! I ADORED this book! I will be gifting this book to some of my loved ones this Christmas because it meant so much to me. This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year and goes right onto my Top Favorites list.

This is a YA novel written about two high school boys that couldn’t be more different becoming friends through a class assignment where they have to write weekly letters to one another. Jonathon is a skinny, awkward, opening gay sophomore with no friends wh
May 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Leslie Gallager
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: yafiction, lgbtq
Rarely has a book affected me as this one has. I wanted to race through it and while at the same time, slowly savor each sentence. It is a shimmering love story with a brittle core. I cried more than once and may have been reading this at my desk during the day... Unforgettable.
Mel (Epic Reading)
Unique ways of telling a story have always been popular; but it's hard to get them right. Whether it's in a prose, poetry, visual or audio format we crave the uniqueness of a story told in a new way. Sarah Henstra uses hand-written letters, in We Contain Multitudes, to tell the entirety of her story. These letters capture the thoughts, feelings and actions of two boys who grow to care for one another. A football player whose repeating grade 12 and seen as 'macho'; and a geeky picked-on gay boy. ...more
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult, queer, 2018
I 1000% loved this book for the 1st 3/4ths. It's this really beautiful romantic epistolary novel about 2 teenage boys who fall in love and discuss Walt Whitman and salamanders and their own sordid lives. It's lovely. But then some hardcore drama happens 3/4ths in and it was really overwhelming in its intensity. I almost whipped the book across the room, tbh. I needed Imogen Heap to come in with some oooooh what you says to cut those dark feelings. Haha. But also for real.

So yeah, the motivations
May 19, 2019 marked it as the-did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
"Poetry’s like that, Kurl: slippery and coy. It means different things to different people."

TW: bullying, homophobia

Unpopular Opinion Time 🐸☕️

DNF @13%

Maybe I should add in the TW “pretentious writing” as well...

This is a love story between a 18 years old kid and a 15 years old guy and how their relationship grew and developed in the face of homophobia and bullying. But I’m not sure that was the case.

Don't get me wrong, the reason why this is a DNF is, in fact, not the homophobia or the bullying
Kaitlin Warwick
May 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rita Mariani
May 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
can't believe how excited i was for this book... the disappointment is real with this one ...more
How is anybody supposed to hide happiness like this?

This book is so pure and beautifully written that after I finished it, I died.
As soon as I started breathing again I ordered the hard copy so that, in 11-15 business days, I'll be able to hold this baby in my hands and reread it until it falls apart with me.

A book comprised only of letters had me hesitant, but Henstra wrote this perfectly. She used the letters not as a constant conversation but a reminiscent account of things that happen w
Aimee Lou
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much!

This book is read in letter format. The letters start with Jo and Kurl getting to know each other. Kurl is a Senior and Jo is a Sophomore. They have the same English teacher who has given the assignment of having a penpal in her classes and writing to them at least once a week. As Jo and Kurl's letters progress, their relationship blossoms. Jo has always known he was gay. He is out and proud. And is bullied at school for it from a gang of haters he refers to as the But
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
this story is definitely a slow creeper - meaning that, whilst reading this, it didnt really feel as impactful. the emotional hit came randomly after i read the book, set it aside, and walked away. and then, out of nowhere, i thought, ‘holy crap. this book.’ this story is large, and it contains multitudes.

4.5 stars
Aug 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book sucks and I’ll deeply offended that it has 4/5 stars, which tricked me into wasting $25 on this hot garbage.

I wish straight women would stop thinking they can write books on what it’s like to be gay, while also making it a purely sexual ordeal and just really letting the reader know loud and clear that they believe gay relationships are so sexualized and not just... normal relationships.

Some things that I found particularly made me wanna rip my eyes out, in no particular order:
-All t
Nov 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, lgbtq
This was the novelised story of Heartstopper.

It had very similar themes and a similar ending.

Here we meet two young boys in high school who are assigned together for a project. We then learn about their lives, themselves and their relationship through their pen pal project.

This story dealt with with serious issues including homophobia, addiction, abuse and bullying - so please be aware of this before you choose to dive in!!

I did enjoy this book and it was a solid read, it just didn’t blow me awa
'Designating a specific area of a supposedly common space for a minority group, even unofficially, implies that the rest of the space is off-limits for that group.'

Sometimes there comes a book that you want to read but not before knowing exactly what you're getting into because many people have spoiler tags and less than impressive ratings up.

So there is supposed to be cheating in this and while I *get* as to why, it was still cringe-worthy to read about and then it kinda got brushed over so ye
Daniel Qiu
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is probably my favorite book of all time. The book is about Jonathan "Jo" Hopkirk and Adam "Kurl" Kurlansky, and how an unlikely pairing in a pen pal project turns into love. Jo is an insecure, bullied, quiet sophomore who is openly gay to his family and his few friends. Kurl seems like a stereotypical football jock, but at home, he is abused and isn't the person everyone at school thinks he is. The whole book is written in letter form.

"We Contain Multitudes" is one of the few books I have
- ̗̀ DANY  ̖́- (danyreads)
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbt, 2019-reads
. : ☾⋆ — 5 ★


if love like this really exists out there in the world, if two people can really come to love each other so wholly and beautifully like this, then, God, I’m here and I’m ready. HIT ME WITH IT, PLEASE.

We Contain Multitudes is the dictionary definition of tender. it’s sincere and wholehearted and passionate and I craved for just a tiny little bit more every time I had to put the book down to go to work. I loved every minute of it in
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My novel The Red Word is available March 2018 from Grove Atlantic (US) and ECW (Canada), and in 2019 from Tramp Press (UK). Mad Miss Mimic was published by Penguin Canada in 2015. We Contain Multitudes is coming in 2019 from Penguin (Canada) and Little, Brown (US). I'm also an English professor and I teach courses in Fairy Tales & Fantasy and Gothic Horror. ...more

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“Adam," my brother said, "let's not be the type of people who are afraid to live because we might die.” 17 likes
“You undid me, Kurl, in more ways than one.” 12 likes
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