True Letters from a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan
Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
If you asked anyone in his small Vermont town, they’d tell you the facts: James Liddell, star athlete, decent student and sort-of boyfriend to cute, peppy Theresa, is a happy, funny, carefree guy.
But whenever James sits down at his desk to write, he tells a different story. As he fills his drawers with letters to the people in his world–letters he never intends to send–he spills the truth: he’s trying hard, but he just isn’t into Theresa. It’s a boy who lingers in his thoughts.
He feels trapped by his parents, his teammates, and the lies they’ve helped him tell, and he has no idea how to escape. Is he destined to live a life of fiction?
First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, HarperTeen for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.
I’m really glad this got to be one of my first summer reads. It’s fairly light yet a solid novel. With great characters and a steady plot, Kenneth Logan delivers a lovely coming of age story. Although I didn’t absolutely love James, the secondary characters are the ones who really had me. Derek, Hawken, Topher, and the parents. They kept me lightly on my toes by not being the predictable supporting characters that I assumed they would be and I really enjoyed that.
Despite the high rating I’m giving it, there are some flaws. One of them being the intense info-dumping in the very beginning. During the first chapter, readers are handed an essay long description on characters that have yet been introduced. A prime example of this is with Theresa, where James explains their long history and feelings. This could have been easily handled with showing us the friction of their relationship rather than telling us because I started to quickly lose interest. The book, for that matter, is mostly telling rather than showing like from the letters and how James writes them to how he speaks and thinks of his friends. Instead of being put in his shoes, understanding his pain and struggle, I just felt as if I was reading a very personal, extremely distant essay (sorry for the contradiction but it’s the only way I could really explain it. Like a cold ‘I love you’). The whole book is surrounded by the letters and how they make him feel and transform him as a person but I felt this part of the novel was poorly executed because I couldn’t connect with it as I was being told about it instead of showed it. More is written about the letter than what is actually in them. Which is really sad as the letters are his way of expressing himself.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed True Letter from a Fictional Life. it’s straightforward plot wise, it contains plenty of twists, and holds some sad truths about the world we live in. I’m glad Logan made the characters different, especially with Derek because of course there are more issues outside of the LGBT community and just even shining a small light on those issues like race and religion is always appreciated. Moreover, I still liked the idea of writing letters, as a strong believer in this approach to dealing with anger (I’ve been writing letters to people since I was in grade two, I swear) I could connect with where James was coming from. looking past all of the telling and lengthy explanations, the writing itself is quite smooth. It’s easy to lose yourself in the story and keep on reading until everything gets resolved.
You should read this. It’s not a heavy book, definitely finish it within a day, no more than a week. The writing style although not unique, has a one-of-a-kind approach to a popular topic and I loved reading about it. There’s more to this novel than what one read will tell you.