Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Book Review: "We Contain Multitudes" by Sarah Henstra

Title: We Contain Multitudes
Author: Sarah Henstra
Genre: YA Contemporary 
Page Length: 384 pages
Format: ARC Paperback
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Date Started: May 19, 2019
Date Finished: May 20, 2019
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars

*I was sent a free pre-publication copy from Novl in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and comments are my own*

TW in the Book: Domestic Abuse, Bullying, Homophobia

I was so excited to get home from college after a grueling week of finals and 40+ hours at work to find this book waiting for me. From the moment I read the synopsis I was dying to read this book. So to start off this review, I would like to thank Novl for sending me a free copy of this book so that I could read and review it here. I'm not sure when I would have been able to read it otherwise and I have to say that this is quite possibly a new favorite.

I'm not a big contemporary fan, if I'm being honest. Books that are just about the romance and don't have anything else behind them don't hold my attention. I find that I can read contemporaries if there's something else going on in the book as well so that I'm not overwhelmed with "ah I love them I love them not" and petty arguments. This book was so much more than just a silly little love story. It was a story of growth, of healing, of finding your way and discovering yourself.

The two main characters, Kurl and Jo, are nothing alike at the beginning. Seeing their journeys both on their own and through their growing relationships was fascinating and wonderful. The ups and downs they went through made this whole book even more realistic to me, as no friendship or partnership can work perfectly all the time. That being said, I thought that they were so freaking cute.

This book deals with a lot of heavy topics. From domestic abuse, homophobia, bullying, and more, it can get heavy at times and there were definitely some hard moments to read through. The whole book is told in letters from Kurl and Jo to each other, so when these heavy topics were discussed in letters, you could still feel the weight of them but you also weren't thrust into a hopeless feeling situation. It was almost as if the letters acted as a buffer for those heavy moments. You still got the impact of these moments, but you weren't consumed by them. I personally can't comment on if every single one of the heavy topics was realistic, but the ones that I do have personal knowledge of seemed pretty on par to my experience.

At the beginning, I was worried that the fact it was told solely through letters would take away my enjoyment of the book. It didn't. The only thing about it was that I wouldn't read the dates on the letters so I never really knew much about the passing of time except for when it was explicitly talked about in the letters. But, again, that's just on me for being too impatient to read not even a full line of text before jumping into each letter.

If anything, I thought the letters helped me connect even more to the characters. We got so much of their inner thoughts, feelings, conflicts, etc that it was hard not to connect when I was literally reading all of their secrets and hidden feelings laid out. There were some letters that were so powerful that I just sat on the couch crying as I read the book.

Other things I really liked: some of the side characters, especially Mark and Bron. There were a few confusing things with holding onto character relationships, like in the beginning with Jo's dad who he refers to as Lyle instead of Dad. But overall, I thought a lot of the side characters were great additions to the story. It's hard to write multi-dimensional characters when it's a book of letters between two people, but somehow Sarah managed to do so in a wonderful way. The plot was interesting, though I am left with a lot of questions! I want to see even more of these characters and, while there's definitely enough there to make a sequel, I'm pretty sure that this is a standalone.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It is one of my new favorite contemporaries and I already want to go back and reread certain scenes in it. I definitely think that a lot of people would enjoy this book! I do want to reiterate the trigger warnings that I mentioned at the top so that everyone will read responsibly! But, yes, this book was great!

Thanks for reading!

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