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This is Not a Love Letter
Cover of This is Not a Love Letter
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...
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...
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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.

Reviews-

  • School Library Journal

    December 1, 2017

    Gr 9 Up-A few days after Jessie (who is white) told her boyfriend (who is black) that they needed to take a break, he is reported missing. His mother thinks he has run away; the police think he may have jumped into the river and drowned. Jessie knows these theories cannot be true. She thinks he was murdered, and has a good idea who did it. Nobody but Jessica knows that Chris was badly beaten up recently. Even though he says it was just because other players from his baseball team were jealous of his Division 1 scholarship offer, Jessie thinks it was racially motivated. Told through flashes of the past and present, Jessie searches for where Chris may have gone, not wanting to believe the worst. She starts to regret that she never returned the love letters he wrote her. Despite the length, the story touches on a few promising concepts but does not dig deeply to truly bring the characters or story to life. The pacing moves a bit too slowly to be engaging as a mystery or thriller, and the plot drags a bit in the middle but rushes to an unsatisfying conclusion. The narrative tries to discuss racism, but only explores it at the surface level. Even though Jessie is the narrator, the story focuses so much on Chris, readers do not get to know her. VERDICT A promising premise that ultimately falls flat. Recommended for large collections.-Carli Sauer, Carmel Middle School, IN

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from November 1, 2017
    A few weeks after getting jumped by boys from a rival town, a black student disappears, causing his white girlfriend to assume the worst.Jessie is devastated by the disappearance of her boyfriend, Chris, and becomes increasingly suspicious of foul play. Jessie is a white girl from a poor neighborhood. Chris is a model student, a pacifist, and a talented athlete--and he happens to be African-American. The plot builds on an intriguing series of clues, exploring gender and racial hate crimes, drug addiction, freak accidents, and mental illness. The book's strength lies in the normalization of their love story, and while race is often a factor in their relationship, the issues they face ring deep and true. When his mother describes Chris, one of the few black students in the town, to the local police, Jessie remarks, "You should tell them that he has a dimple." Jessie is so clearly not racist, remembering Chris by his idiosyncrasies--how he likes "retro candy," for instance--and yet she too can fall prey to the most basic assumptions. The premise, that the book is one long letter from Jessie to the missing Chris, displays the essential contrivance of the epistolary form, yet Purcell handles the nuances of interracial relationships with a remarkably sensitive and observant eye and challenges readers to view racism under a broader category of generalizations.A poignant interracial love story that grapples with hate and violence. (Thriller. 12-16)

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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This is Not a Love Letter
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