We Contain Multitudes
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.

We Contain Multitudes Details

TitleWe Contain Multitudes
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 14th, 2019
PublisherLittle, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN-139780316524650
Rating
GenreLGBT, Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

We Contain Multitudes Review

  • Kai
    January 1, 1970
    2019 is the first year where I think that I won't be able to keep up with all the promising lgbt+ releases and that makes me want to cry
  • Benjamin
    January 1, 1970
    2019 is rocking with all these new gay releases!
  • Malanie
    January 1, 1970
    “““Poetry’s like that, Kurl: slippery and coy. It means different things to different people.””” You know how sometimes you’ll read a book. And it’s objectively beautiful. Like, if you were to scientifically analyze the book, and place all its pieces side by side on a table, you’d agree that yes, this is technically beautiful. It has all the right parts. It says all the right things.AND THIS ANALYSIS ONLY MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE A STONE COLD MONSTER WHO CANNOT LOVE. That was me. I felt no emotion a “““Poetry’s like that, Kurl: slippery and coy. It means different things to different people.””” You know how sometimes you’ll read a book. And it’s objectively beautiful. Like, if you were to scientifically analyze the book, and place all its pieces side by side on a table, you’d agree that yes, this is technically beautiful. It has all the right parts. It says all the right things.AND THIS ANALYSIS ONLY MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE A STONE COLD MONSTER WHO CANNOT LOVE. That was me. I felt no emotion at all for these characters. Except outrage at myself, because this was supposed to be like Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and yet here I am, not feeling my golden holy Ari and Dante vibes. Please just return me to the store, I’m defective. ✨What is this book about?✨ This book was about two boys, Kurl and Jo, who are pen pals ((who attend the same school because they’re pen pals for a writing assignment, not for some normal reason like, they’re separated by some physical distance ***which would have been amazing***)). The entire book = Jo and Kurl taking turns sending one another letters back and forth. I forget what you call a book written in epistle format????? I’ve never read a book in this style before, where it’s literally nothing but letters. Turns out it’s not my thing. *bursts into tears*They basically progress directly from neutral pen pals to lovers. There was no segue at all. It was just WHAM suddenly they’re boyfriends. AND I WAS JUST QUIETLY THINKING:: “jesus that was fast.” Sometimes insta-love works; very rarely, but I’ve seen it done. Sadly, this book does not serve as an example of that. Especially because their earliest sexual encounters have no consent ////whatsoever.//// Which is challenged in the book. But still!!!!!!! This took away so much of my enjoyment of the relationship. It set a tone that I couldn’t get out of my head. The story follows them falling in love, then the events that SAVAGELY break them apart. These events have to do with parent-child abuse and cheating. So. That wasn’t fun in the least. ANYWAY. There are also so many Walt Whitman references. I love Walt. Jo, the protagonist, is Walt’s biggest fanboy. He even dresses like him!!! But all the Whitman allusions to became annoying after a certain point. I love the idea of a person “containing multitudes.” But holy shit we were given a 200 page analysis of “Leaves of Grass" and I wasn't prepared ✨Rep!!!✨ ➡️Jo is gay, Kurl is bisexual or gay? ((not specified for sure)) ✨Overall✨ I didn’t Ari and Dante aesthetic at all. Sure, there’s a soft angelic boy and a…………...idk a “not as soft” boy? Ari and Dante also has a part in the middle where they communicate entirely through letters because Dante moves to Chicago for a little while. But other than that, if you’re reading this because it will give you Ari and Dante feelings, you might be disappointed. TW: parent-child abuse, protagonist with anger issues, sexual encounter without explicit consent, homophobia, bullying, drug use, cheating (within main relationship)|✨BLOG✨| ✨TWITTER✨|✨BOOKSTAGRAM✨|
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  • Lauren Lanzilotta
    January 1, 1970
    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 from the pages are done so with dreary eyes; reality seems secondary to what you’ve just experienced.We Contain Multitudes is beautiful in it’s 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 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 from the pages are done so with dreary eyes; reality seems secondary to what you’ve just experienced.We Contain Multitudes is beautiful in it’s 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 expect. Jonathan enjoys poetry, and doesn’t have any friends in school. Adam is a football star, though he prefers to avoid socializing with other students. Through weekly letters to each other, the boys begin finding friendship amidst their differences. Eventually, things blossom into love, and the two are determined to find peace in a life that wants nothing but chaos for them.Told through solely Adam and Jonathan’s letters to each other, We Contain Multitudes was a truly intriguing book. I was immediately drawn to both main characters, as they each had such a distinct, unique voice. The story flowed perfectly, nothing felt too fast paced or slowed down. It got to the point where I’d forgotten I was reading words on a page, and was instead completely lost in the story.This book left me with a distinct sense of peace. A good sort of quietness has settled inside me after closing the last page. The simple beauty was astounding.
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  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    pen pal guys who fall in love in the face of homophobia. god bless. 
  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 StarsI 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.The 3.5 StarsI 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.The prose was definitely beautiful. I must admit that I asked myself a question: was it a bit too much for two teenagers still in high school? Maybe, but in the end I was fine with it because I think that deep down I, as a reader, always want my main characters to be special in some way and not think about the fact that they are just normal teenagers picked out at random from a high school crowd. So yes, maybe it was a bit too much, but these characters are special and so it also felt fitting to have them write so majestically and quote Walt Whitman’s poems to each other. I don’t even know if I succeeded in explaining myself or if I just started rambling here. If so, I’m sorry. Jo and Kurl were definitely something. Both of them had their finest and lowest moments in this book. I appreciated the fact that the author did not shy away from heavy topics such as bullying, homophobia (internalized and general), domestic violence, abuse, grief and PTSD. But if any of these themes make you uncomfortable or are triggering then maybe this isn’t the read for you. Now to what I didn’t enjoy. I had two main issues with this novel. The first one is the part about consent. The lines were really blurry in that scene where Kurl was drunk. I was happy to see Jo seeking guidance and asking for help to his sister and Bron. It was a good choice that then unfortunately didn’t lead to him confronting Kurl. We just get told that he was drunk but he remembers what he did and from what we get he seems to be okay with it. For me this isn’t enough, I think the two of them should have had a more in depth conversation about that night. The second thing I wasn’t okay with is the cheating and how the whole aspect was dealt with. Shayna and Kurl in the end don’t really give any explanation to Jo and he seems to be okay with this decision and he also forgives them. To me it felt like he was accepting something without even trying to solve or fight it. I didn’t like this. The ending makes us think that Kurl and Jo will not only remain friends, but also maybe get back together, or at least try to. Without any explanation and felt apologies for the night when the cheating happened I do not think this is an adequate ending.
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  • Hollis
    January 1, 1970
    DNF at 90 pagesThe 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 DNF at 90 pagesThe 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 giving me a play by play on my life. That's obnoxious. And the author clearly knew this because she covered her ass by saying "I know this is weird but I like breaking the conversation and events down to explore it", uh, no. These are sixteen/seventeen year old boys tasked with an English assignment and, to begin with, they are writing more than they should. You've already stretched the boundaries of my disbelief. I can't buy into this other 'instant replay' nonsense.So instead I spoiled myself on the events of the book by reading some reviews, got mad some more, and thus here I am giving up.If it wasn't against my personal policy to not rate books I've read less than half of.. this would have a one star up there.Nope nope.** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
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  • Leslie Gallager
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • c,
    January 1, 1970
    a moment of silence for all the great characters who got screwed over by shitty plotsfor them as wants to know exactly: (view spoiler)[there's a whole load of homophobia in this even before the mess happens (jo regularly gets bullied for being gay). kurl's uncle (who also beats him when he gets drunk) ends up kicking him out bc he's gay, so he goes to his mate's and ends up getting drunk (partly bc he hates himself too!) and having sex with his boyfriend's sister, who is also drunk and angry wit a moment of silence for all the great characters who got screwed over by shitty plotsfor them as wants to know exactly: (view spoiler)[there's a whole load of homophobia in this even before the mess happens (jo regularly gets bullied for being gay). kurl's uncle (who also beats him when he gets drunk) ends up kicking him out bc he's gay, so he goes to his mate's and ends up getting drunk (partly bc he hates himself too!) and having sex with his boyfriend's sister, who is also drunk and angry with her father. jo (boyfriend) walks in on them and then ends up going on a bender, getting high, and finding himself in a situation where his bullies beat him up really bad. like proper gay bashing kind of shit. so. a mess. i would mind less if this kind of thing was handled by a mlm but. it's not so. it's frustrating too bc i loved the characters and where the book was going before that. if, say, the kicking out had been the angst bit which they dealt with together, it would have been so much better. instead this all happened. (hide spoiler)]Rep: gay mcs
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  • Bridget
    January 1, 1970
    The cover weirdly reminds me of Pynch...
  • Roxanne
    January 1, 1970
    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 wit 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 with the characters revealing themselves to us and each other. I want to walk down the hallways of Lincoln High with one part of me in the eternal, the timeless, and the other part of me slipping so fast through the here and now that nobody can pin me down, not even the butcherboys. Jonathan Hopkirk is a revelation. He is so wholly himself and open to everything that I often found myself with tears in my eyes as I read his letters laying his heart out there. A word kept flashing in my head. One word, over and over, like a flashing neon sign. Lucky. Adam Kurlansky is given the opportunity, through his letters with Jo, to become the person no one else in his life has allowed him to be. He grows so much through the story. I loved the poetry references. I loved the story. I loved how these two found each other and made their own story. This is definitely a book that will stay with me. My beautiful, laughable fable of a life.
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  • Sana
    January 1, 1970
    This sounds positively devastating so of course, I want to read it bad
  • Silvia
    January 1, 1970
    I was provided with a digital ARC of this book by NetGalley and the publishing house, Little,Brown Books for Young Readers, in exchange for an honest reviewFull review can be found hereYou guys, I'm still in shock by how much I loved this book. I knew it was going to be something right up my alley, but I didn't think I would love it THAT much. This is an episotolary LGBTQ+ YA novel following Jonathan and Adam, two boys who are parnered in English class in order to write letters to each other. Th I was provided with a digital ARC of this book by NetGalley and the publishing house, Little,Brown Books for Young Readers, in exchange for an honest reviewFull review can be found hereYou guys, I'm still in shock by how much I loved this book. I knew it was going to be something right up my alley, but I didn't think I would love it THAT much. This is an episotolary LGBTQ+ YA novel following Jonathan and Adam, two boys who are parnered in English class in order to write letters to each other. They could not be more different from one another even if they tried, though: Jonathan is confident in himself, loves poetry, dresses like a Walt Whitman cosplay and more importantly he's out and proud. Adam is in the football team, has a lot of family issues, and he doesn't even know who he is or what he wants to be. He's only 18 after all.This book is a declaration of love for poetry, and a declaration of love in general. Love in all of its forms. The purest, kindest and most youthful love, but also the darkest, most obscure and personal kind of love. This book celebrates even those parts of love and I think it's honestly amazing. I think that this is a novel that will divide the public opinion a lot. If you're not into dark feelings and dark stuff and you want a lovey-dovey fluffy romance, I'm sorry to say, but this book is definitely not for you. It deals with heavy topics, and the relationship in it is very far from perfect, and that's what I loved the most. Sometimes the lines about what is right and wrong is honestly very blurred and I have to admit that I, at times, really cringed in front of certain scenes. I think, though, that the author did a really good job in making the reader empathize with her characters, in order to make you understand why they were thinking and acting in certain ways.The only character I honestly could not stand was Shayna, Jonathan's sister. I'm not gonna spoil anything, but she's selfish, at times mean, and she comes across as the worst person ever. She can't apologize even if she tries, and even though I can see where she comes from, I really think that your inner anger can't justify your behaviour, most of the times (I'm not talking about PTSD or mental health cause that is serious stuff).Jonathan and Adam were honestly the most wonderful characters I've read in a while. They were so true to themselves and with who they are and they are really mature for their age (we're talking about 16 and 18 year old teens, they're REALLY mature kids, I wish I had that kind of intelligence and strenght at their age, and even an ounce of their ability to forgive and forget and accept even the darkest parts of who they are).Like I said, I'm in awe of this book, please give it a chance, I promise it is so very worth it. You guys won't regret it. I'll surely buy my own physical copy when it comes out in order to snuggle it and adore it in the way it deserves. All the stars to this book, really. All of them.
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  • Rita Mariani
    January 1, 1970
    can't believe how excited i was for this book... the disappointment is real with this one
  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 behind all the dramarama make sense and some of it wasn't surprising and like everyone is broken, but sometimes it's just too much to be reminded of our capacity to hurt each other, ya know? It grinds the soul. The tone shift tho, it just kind of ruined the book for me. And the neat ending didn't work either. Ugh, I have no idea how to rate this. It's somewhere between a 2 and a 3 because of the drama, but everything before was a 5. I'd recommend if you love character driven realistic romances with a lot of hardcore intensity. But there are some hella problematic aspects too, just fyi.P.s. I just read another of the reviews on here and someone compared it to Jeff Zentner's The Serpent King, which is indeed apt in my estimation as I think I literally whipped that book across my bedroom. I don't like books to betray me when I'm not ready.
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  • yvee
    January 1, 1970
    Ok. Maybe like a 2.5 I am so angry at this book. Legit so angry. I would have given this book a 4 Star, even a 5 Star rating if the last like 100 something pages hadn’t happened. This book had so much potential to live up to I’ll give you the sun, or hell, even Ari and Dante. But let me tell you.... how dare they compare this story to Ari and Dante because it doesn’t even come CLOSE after THAT [spoiler ahead]SPOILERS BC I NEED TO VENT:- ok so apparently shayna the beloved sister or whatever has Ok. Maybe like a 2.5 I am so angry at this book. Legit so angry. I would have given this book a 4 Star, even a 5 Star rating if the last like 100 something pages hadn’t happened. This book had so much potential to live up to I’ll give you the sun, or hell, even Ari and Dante. But let me tell you.... how dare they compare this story to Ari and Dante because it doesn’t even come CLOSE after THAT [spoiler ahead]SPOILERS BC I NEED TO VENT:- ok so apparently shayna the beloved sister or whatever has nothing to say to HER BROTHER for sleeping with his boyfriend...- AND KURL??? I WAS ROOTING FOR YOU WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU HOW DARE YOU!!!!- and it just made jo seem almost like the bad guy for wanting some time to himself and to grieve for the loss of his relationship and that made me so ANGRY- AND IT WAS NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN AND HAPPILY EVER AFTER AFTER WEEKS/MONTHS OF NOT TALKING????- god and then shayna just became a selfish insufferable mess and I felt so fucking bad for JoAnyways, I loved this book until the end. I am utterly disappointed and disgusted. I wish that authors would not go for unnecessary plots for shock value ESPECIALLY the cheating trope. Ugh.
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  • madeline ♡
    January 1, 1970
    guess who's got an arc 😎
  • Sabrina
    January 1, 1970
    My heart is broken. 💔I absolutely loved the idea and the writing and the poetry of this. But the last part broke my heart so much I have this huge book hangover and think I will never be ok again. Just leave me here to die.
  • Jessie_Book
    January 1, 1970
    I don't know how to feel about this book.I loved a good bit of it. Like five stars would recommend to everyone loved it. The characters were fun and portrayed being gay in a heartbreakingly realistic way. It was written well, though the letter format of the book did hinder it a bit and grew a little thin at places. I was excited every time I picked it up to see what was going to happen next.But its the last hundred pages that I can't get behind. Not going to spoil it, but some big issues come up I don't know how to feel about this book.I loved a good bit of it. Like five stars would recommend to everyone loved it. The characters were fun and portrayed being gay in a heartbreakingly realistic way. It was written well, though the letter format of the book did hinder it a bit and grew a little thin at places. I was excited every time I picked it up to see what was going to happen next.But its the last hundred pages that I can't get behind. Not going to spoil it, but some big issues come up between several characters. And instead of talking about the problem and resolve them, or at least start to resolve them, they just keep going about their days. They don't really even bring up the issues for the last hundred pages, then the book ends and it feels like it was meant to be a satisfying ending but it wasn't. I felt short changed and it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth.
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  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    "Watching him it suddenly hit me how rare and amazing it was to be able to see something being made out of nothing. Up close like that. It reminded me how it felt watching you sing when you didn't know I was in the room. Halfway between dirty and holy. I don't know. But I suddenly found myself smiling like an idiot and looking all around the room and thinking, anything, anything is possible in this life. This moment is everything. Right now."Ok. First off, this book has some AMAZING quotes. It a "Watching him it suddenly hit me how rare and amazing it was to be able to see something being made out of nothing. Up close like that. It reminded me how it felt watching you sing when you didn't know I was in the room. Halfway between dirty and holy. I don't know. But I suddenly found myself smiling like an idiot and looking all around the room and thinking, anything, anything is possible in this life. This moment is everything. Right now."Ok. First off, this book has some AMAZING quotes. It also, for the majority of it, depicted a very cute romance, one about discovering who you are and first love and developing a deep connection to another person that you know could last a lifetime. However, during the main climax of this book, I felt as if every good bit beforehand was suddenly washed away by all the bad. It was like the author had a bunch of different ideas as to what she wanted to happen during what would be the most dramatic and suspenseful part of the book, but instead of deciding on one idea, or even two, she kept all of them, combined them, and still tried to make sure everything got resolved in a limited number of pages. This, sadly, didn't work for me. I felt kind of disappointed by the resolution. The ending was still adorable though and it left me feeling hopeful and bittersweet. This book just started so strongly and went downhill for me and I'm just so freaking disappointed UGH!!! But it's still such an amazing book! It really is! I loved so much about it, especially the way it was formatted and told purely through letters, it was just that one specific part of the book I can't get over (and I'm sure if you've read the book you know what I'm talking about), it just didn't make sense and didn't fit the characters.Regardless, I still rated this book 4 stars because I enjoyed the majority of it. Mainly, I enjoyed the themes it touched upon and, especially, the two main characters. Because just. Wow. The two boys made my heart ache.
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  • Jamie
    January 1, 1970
    This. This. This.I don't want to write about what this book is about. I don't feel the urge to write about how beautifully drawn Adam Kurlansky and Jonathan Hopkirk are. How their voices are so distinct. How their story is so universal and unique. I don't want to write about that. I want to write about how much I'm feeling right now. This is two days in a row of me reading YA books with gay boys at their center. And both have completely wrecked me.But this one might have wrecked me the most. I w This. This. This.I don't want to write about what this book is about. I don't feel the urge to write about how beautifully drawn Adam Kurlansky and Jonathan Hopkirk are. How their voices are so distinct. How their story is so universal and unique. I don't want to write about that. I want to write about how much I'm feeling right now. This is two days in a row of me reading YA books with gay boys at their center. And both have completely wrecked me.But this one might have wrecked me the most. I was destroyed by this book. But it's a delicious sort of destruction, the kind where I know I will pick this up and thumb to passages just to remind myself of their beauty. That's not hyperbole - when I have insomnia I go to my shelves and find a passage of book that will soothe me to sleep, and honestly Kurl and Jo are going to be my go-tos for a while.I wish I could give this more than five stars. I want to give this five stars with hearts on either end. Five stars with a broken heart emoji. A heart that's so full it's bursting emoji.I haven't been this affected by a book since THE SERPENT KING. This is so romantic. So heart wrenching. I feel so FULL from this book. You all, I don't want to oversell this; if anything, I feel like I'm underselling it. I truly, unabashedly loved this book."Let's not be the type of people who are scared to live because we might die."I am all the things right now. Thanks, book. You've ruined me for other books for a long long time and I am not mad at you.
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  • Nicole Lorentz
    January 1, 1970
    First off, I would like to thank thenovl and little, brown young readers for the ARC of this book! I was given this copy in exchange for an honest review.”We are large, remember? We contain multitudes.”4.5/5 What a sensational story! We Contain Multitudes opened my heart and took me on a journey filled with friendship, love, heartbreak, and perseverance. It follows Jonathan (Jo) Hopkirk and Adam “Kurl” Kurlandsky as they write letters to one another due to an English assignment. As they write, a First off, I would like to thank thenovl and little, brown young readers for the ARC of this book! I was given this copy in exchange for an honest review.”We are large, remember? We contain multitudes.”4.5/5 What a sensational story! We Contain Multitudes opened my heart and took me on a journey filled with friendship, love, heartbreak, and perseverance. It follows Jonathan (Jo) Hopkirk and Adam “Kurl” Kurlandsky as they write letters to one another due to an English assignment. As they write, a friendship develops and a bond is created between the two boys. As they begin to fall in love, they are faced with adversity that they must overcome in order to hold on to their relationship.This is a story about figuring out who you are and understanding that no matter who that person is, they are worth celebrating. Jo and Kurl are going on that journey to grow and find themselves. They find a friend in each other, and eventually someone that they can love, who loves them back.This is not just a love story though. It goes much deeper than that. The reader sees Jo undergo bullying and Kurl deal with a secret about his Uncle that he has tried to keep hidden for most of his life. It shows the struggles that many have had experience with, or have witnessed in their lifetime. Jo and Kurl must find the strength to stand up for themselves and let their true selves shine.We Contain Multitudes was such a joy to read. There were points were I caught myself smiling, and others when I felt like I wanted to cry. I loved the two main characters and really enjoyed the epistolary format. I also loved that this was set in Minnesota. That is my home state, and it always brings my a bit of joy to see references of places I’ve been or grew up near. The only thing for me that was a bit “meh” was the fast love. I wouldn’t say it is instant love, but I do feel as though things moved pretty quickly. Other than that, this was a fantastic read.This book releases tomorrow, 14MAY2019
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  • Lauren
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 // 5 starsFirst, I want to thank Novl for sending me a free arc copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. I do want to give trigger warnings for domestic abuse, bullying, and homophobia. Overall, I thought this was a super cute and fun book that still dealt with some heavy topics, especially towards the end. We follow two characters, Jo and Kurl, who are assigned to each other in a pen-pal assignment for English class. As the two start writing letters, a fr 4.5 // 5 starsFirst, I want to thank Novl for sending me a free arc copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. I do want to give trigger warnings for domestic abuse, bullying, and homophobia. Overall, I thought this was a super cute and fun book that still dealt with some heavy topics, especially towards the end. We follow two characters, Jo and Kurl, who are assigned to each other in a pen-pal assignment for English class. As the two start writing letters, a friendship and possibly something more starts to form. The entire book is told through the letters that these two characters write back and forth to each other. I do have to say there were things with the letters that I really liked and also things that confused me. For starters, we were missing out on a lot of interaction between the main characters and side characters. While the side characters were present, I'm assuming we would have gotten a lot more of them if this book was told in a traditional narrative style. However, I still liked a lot of the side characters and thought that Henstra was able to write some great multi-dimensional side characters through the letters, which is hard to do. The main thing I liked about the letters being how the story was told was that it connected me to the main characters a lot easier. Since there wasn't a lot of narrative description or setting, that meant that we got even more of the characters' inner thoughts and feelings. Knowing what they were feeling, what they were thinking, etc and reading that explicitly made me able to connect a lot easier.Overall, I thought this book was super cute and fun. I'll definitely have to reread it sometime since I read it so quickly from the need to know what was going to happen next. Full review here
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  • Brianna Branch
    January 1, 1970
    4.5/5 starsThanks to Siena Koncsol and Morgan Maple of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing me with an advanced copy of We Contain Multitudes for review purposes.“You undid me, Kurl. That’s all I’m trying to report in this letter. You undid me, Kurl, in more ways than one.”I enjoyed this novel immensely; its easy-to-read letter entry format enabled me to read it freely without feeling the need to read to the end of a whole chapter. The story itself starts out a bit cliché, yet I c 4.5/5 starsThanks to Siena Koncsol and Morgan Maple of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing me with an advanced copy of We Contain Multitudes for review purposes.“You undid me, Kurl. That’s all I’m trying to report in this letter. You undid me, Kurl, in more ways than one.”I enjoyed this novel immensely; its easy-to-read letter entry format enabled me to read it freely without feeling the need to read to the end of a whole chapter. The story itself starts out a bit cliché, yet I continued to read due to my interest in the LGBTQIAP+ community; I was extremely surprised by Henstra’s ability to write the love story of two gay, male teenagers without coming off as offensive and/or uninformed. I especially appreciate that the book had several twists that left my jaw hanging. Instead of penning a predictable story with a classic ending, Henstra managed to alter my original opinion of a predictable novel by presenting a story with depth, emotion, and passion. As I neared the end of the novel, I felt as if some of the letter entries were unnecessary. Some of the information presented in those entries were not emphasized further along in the book, thus making it appear as filler. However, I feel that books of this kind generally include filler content, and while it is quite bothersome to read a book that leaves some questions unanswered, it worked since the ending was so satisfying. There was a character in the novel that I did not particularly care for, and I did feel that some of the content contained typical teen clichés. I would recommend We Contain Multitudes to lovers of the young-adult genre who wish to embark on a journey of self-acceptance and love in the face of hate and bigotry. Readers of Adam Silvera and Andre Aciman will devour this book, as it appeals to readers who struggle to find themselves as they enter puberty and/or have rejected the idea of possibly gay themselves. This is a gem of a book.
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  • Darcy
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-arc of this book. Jo and Kurl are paired up by their English teacher to be penpals for a school assignment. A few grades apart, they don't really know each other but do know of each other. Kurl is one of the football stars of the school, eerily calm, but has the reputation for getting into fights. Jo dresses like he's from another time, loves to reference Walt Whitman, and is openly gay. So naturally they start out their assignment only being awa Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-arc of this book. Jo and Kurl are paired up by their English teacher to be penpals for a school assignment. A few grades apart, they don't really know each other but do know of each other. Kurl is one of the football stars of the school, eerily calm, but has the reputation for getting into fights. Jo dresses like he's from another time, loves to reference Walt Whitman, and is openly gay. So naturally they start out their assignment only being aware of the differences between them. But soon they become friends, and then more than that. When each faces personal dilemmas, they will have to fight to hold on to each other... or they will have to let go. This book wasn't perfect, but it was sweet and beautifully written. The way both Jo and Kurl make references to Walt Whitman and various musicians and describe the way they feel about different situations and each other is lovely, even when lovely stuff isn't happening in the book (and I will warn you, spoiler free, there is some drama in the book that I didn't love but man is it well-written). I think that this is going to become one of those LGBT contemporary books that YA readers are really going to like.
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  • Giulia
    January 1, 1970
    "Poetry’s like that, Kurl: slippery and coy. It means different things to different people."TW: bullying, homophobiaUnpopular 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 "Poetry’s like that, Kurl: slippery and coy. It means different things to different people."TW: bullying, homophobiaUnpopular 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 or even the age gap between the two main characters. Nah, fam, the real issues for me here was the writing style. And to be more precise, the 15 yo kid's writing style. It was painfully pretentious. I understand that you are an aspiring poet but, kid, take a goddam breath and write like a normal human being. These two dudes have to send each other letters for an English assignment and from there on their relationship bloomed but damn, the younger kid and his letters were just unbearable. It was just a bit challenging to think that a kid would write and say stuff like that. And, indeed, I did not fully believe in his character and his personality. It felt a bit too plastic and not enough real. Who, with all the due respect, writes that way? Man, it was not enjoyable, and that’s why I decided to do not finish We Contain Multitudes.I know there are talented young kids that are definitely able to write in this poetic and lush writing style. And, honestly, kudos to you because I'm clearly not able, but I'm also very clearly not a fan of this pretentious, overly-literate character.I like my protagonists to be a bit more relatable. And Jonathan was simply too smart for my stupid and illiterate self. I'm sure there is somebody out there who can actually enjoy how wordy and cultured he was. But, unfortunately, that somebody was not me. I truly believe I was just too stupid. It was not the book's fault, I assure you. It was all on me and how dumb I am.Nonetheless, the pretentiousness was strong in this one and I was aggressively not a fan. Hence, I decided to stop reading. We Contain Multitudes was simply not my cup of tea, but hopefully it's yours!
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  • Jenny
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful writing. Profound prose. The characterization is absolutely amazing, and the emotional connection between Jo and Kurl is gorgeous. I wanted to live inside their letters to each other; watching them grow into themselves and into each other was beautiful.Unfortunately, this is, annoyingly, one of those books that's absolutely a 5-star, I want to re-read this Right Now, type of affair until about 3/4ths of the way through, when the author decides what would really be a good idea to throw Beautiful writing. Profound prose. The characterization is absolutely amazing, and the emotional connection between Jo and Kurl is gorgeous. I wanted to live inside their letters to each other; watching them grow into themselves and into each other was beautiful.Unfortunately, this is, annoyingly, one of those books that's absolutely a 5-star, I want to re-read this Right Now, type of affair until about 3/4ths of the way through, when the author decides what would really be a good idea to throw in now is (view spoiler)[a side of hate crimes and bad-decision-het-sex for our queer characters. (hide spoiler)] The worst part is that I could see it coming--a credit to excellent plot structure, in part, but also a sad capitulation to a trend in queer YA that can die any day. Yes, it's hard growing up queer, but I'm tired of it being quite that hard in my fiction. All the lovely nuance in Jo and Kurl's identity-seeking was drowned out by the level of violence the novel chose to include, and that's a shame.
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    SPOILERS THIS REVIEW CONTAINS THEM A BIG ONE ACTUALLY BIG SPOILERWe Contain Multitudes was a gorgeous book. Reminiscent of Aristotle and Dante and I'll Give You the Sun in terms of heartrenching beauty. We follow Adam "Kurl" Kurlansky and Jonathan 'Jo' Hopkirk as they're partnered together in an English class pen pal writing assignment. The book is told through the letters the two exchange, each one dated so it's easy to follow along to what's happening and when. I greatly enjoyed this book. I l SPOILERS THIS REVIEW CONTAINS THEM A BIG ONE ACTUALLY BIG SPOILERWe Contain Multitudes was a gorgeous book. Reminiscent of Aristotle and Dante and I'll Give You the Sun in terms of heartrenching beauty. We follow Adam "Kurl" Kurlansky and Jonathan 'Jo' Hopkirk as they're partnered together in an English class pen pal writing assignment. The book is told through the letters the two exchange, each one dated so it's easy to follow along to what's happening and when. I greatly enjoyed this book. I loved both Kurl and Jo and the fact that they had very distinctive personalities and I loved them equally as characters. However this is getting one less star because of the fact in the midst of a kind of break up with Jo, Kurl winds up having sex with Jo's sister who NEVER BRINGS IT UP OR APOLOGIZES I kind of didn't like her.
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  • TJ
    January 1, 1970
    This was a very well written book! The characters were great, the letter format worked, and the themes were important and handled with care. It definitely got a little too dark and intense for me within the last quarter, as a lot happened all at once, but it was written well and made sense. Sixteen year old me would have looooved this novel, and I think that’s very telling! It’s not a unique story nowadays, but it’s worth reading. I think many young readers will connect with this one and find it This was a very well written book! The characters were great, the letter format worked, and the themes were important and handled with care. It definitely got a little too dark and intense for me within the last quarter, as a lot happened all at once, but it was written well and made sense. Sixteen year old me would have looooved this novel, and I think that’s very telling! It’s not a unique story nowadays, but it’s worth reading. I think many young readers will connect with this one and find it life changing. Me? I’ve already found those books as a teen! But that doesn’t change the fact that this is a 5 star book! 5/5 stars.PS — Henstra definitely has a foot fetish. At least, it comes across that way in my ARC. I didn’t take that into account in my rating though... 😂
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  • noah
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 they were narrating scenes they were both present in. there were boring bits, uncomfortable bits and some sweet romantic bits, but nothing too amazing.then we get to the last quarter of the book and it's chaos. kurl goes all self-destructive. everybody is making bad decisions. theres crazy violent homophobia. its a disaster. (view spoiler)[im still not over kurl and jo's sister having sex. that was so messed up and unnecessary. there was already enough drama without adding that. (hide spoiler)] it felt like three seasons of gossip girl crammed together to make up the last 25% of the book. by the end i didnt even want jo and kurl to end up together. i just wanted them to forge new healthy relationships (romantic, platonic, familial, etc.) with other people. and live better,happier lives.anyway i wish i hadnt read this book. it so wasnt worth my time.
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