[ARC] Review #34: We Contain Multitudes

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe meets I’ll Give You the Sun in an exhilarating and emotional novel about the growing relationship between two teen boys, told through the letters they write to one another.

Jonathan Hopkirk and Adam “Kurl” Kurlansky are partnered in English class, writing letters to one another in a weekly pen pal assignment. With each letter, the two begin to develop a friendship that eventually grows into love. But with homophobia, bullying, and devastating family secrets, Jonathan and Kurl struggle to overcome their conflicts and hold onto their relationship…and each other.

This rare and special novel celebrates love and life with engaging characters and stunning language, making it perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson, Nina LaCour, and David Levithan.


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*I WAS PROVIDED A PHYSICAL ARC IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. THIS DOES NOT AFFECT MY OPINION*

Have any of you heard of My Hero Academia? Do you know the characters Deku and Bakugou? Well, this book has two characters that are essentially the less violent and without the background history version of them.

We Contain Multitudes is one of the only books I’ve read that involves actual situations that can happen with teenagers. Don’t get me wrong, most contemporaries are pretty awesome. But this was that special one that just made you shout, “THIS WAS WHAT I WAS WAITING FOR!”

On top of that, Henstra made sure to break the norms most books follow very closely. I’m a Christian teenager. I was raised to wait until marriage before thinking of doing anything intimate with anyone. But what is missing in that belief is that there are other people out there who don’t follow that like my family does, and I find that it’s really important for things like these to be brought up in YA.

Sure, there are teens out there that prefer the clean YA. But I still think it’s important to have the books that approach these barriers and break them into tiny shards so that other teens know that, this is a normal thing that happens every day.

I’m not usually a fan of books that are mainly character driven, but I felt this story wouldn’t have been the same without it. The characters were deeply emotionally invested, and the situations in which things took place were perfectly described through the letters.

ALSO!!! BOYS ARE CRYING IN THIS BOOK!!! Do you know how hard it is to find a book with emotional boys in it? VERY HARD. Seriously, Jo reminded me so much Deku from My Hero Academia. And Kurl? God, he was just like Bakugou, but a lot less violent and more open in feelings. I hate comparing characters to other characters because I feel like every character deserves their own persona. But seriously, Jurl (the ship name I’ve come up with for Jo and Kurl), is just like BakuDeku.

This book pulled hard on my heartstrings. I, honest to God, felt connected to the characters while reading this book. I got angry, sad, happy, excited, etc. There isn’t one thing about this book I would change. For that, I rate We Contain Multitudes 5 stars. I HIGHLY suggest this book (already sent a FC to my school friend; shoutout to you, Makenna).

Henstra has officially become a favorite author of mine. I look forward to reading whatever she writes next.


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pao0033-croppedsmallMy 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.

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