Book 20: True Letters from a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan

This book is my first 5-star book in a while. I know I give a lot of credit to books in my judgements of them, but this one is amazing. I do not even know where to start, so I will talk about the 4 things that really stood out to me: character development, plot, and voice (with realism being thrown in to each of these topics).

The main character, James, and his best friends all start in a place that many teens do at some point: gay jokes. This is pretty typical for most high school students, even those that are in the closet. As the story progresses, you start to see the world that we live in. Some people are comfortable in their skin and some aren’t. Some people can come to terms with identity, but some never will. Some people are understanding of the difficulties of being gay, and some will make it all about them. This book has a group of friends that represents every type of character that you’ve ever dealt with in the coming out process, and their development is perfection.

I highlight this book as a romance book, but to be honest, this book has a romance subplot. This book is about being gay, realizing you cannot hide your true identity anymore, and coming out. This books keeps it pretty real about all of these issues. It starts with a guy coming out to his crush. It goes uphill and downhill after that. Each topic that this book touches on is treated with care and thoughtfulness. James comes out, he struggles even more with that identity, he finds a boy, he realizes he wants to be true to himself, he is forced out of the closet, he comes out of the closet to even more people, he deals with bigots, and he rises from all of it. It is truly the “It gets better” handbook. The only issue I have with this book is that it does not make a bigger deal out of the people that keep feeling “hurt and betrayed” by his decision to not come out soon. Logan (the author) touches on the “my secret, my decision” a bit and has some resolution to it, but it really should be highlighted more since there are so many characters that use this as an excuse to be upset with the MC. You can feel hurt that someone doesn’t tell you sooner, but you cannot be upset with them for not telling you. It is their secret, and society has not made it much easier for us to come out of the closet.

The voice is amazing. That is really all I need to say. You would never know an adult wrote this book. It sounds just like a teenager, and even though the point of view was one character, you could still see the differences between the character’s through their dialogue. It was expertly done for someone that had never written a YA book before. Kudos.

I know, this was a long review, but this book deserved everything I said. It will forever be one of my favorite books. I wish I had this book when I was in high school. It would have made things so much easier for me.

For readers, I am sure you know what I’m going to say. READ THIS BOOK! It was everything I wanted it to be and more. I really did not expect to not want to put it down, if that makes any sense.

For libraries, you should already have this book, but if you do not. BUT IT NOW! I made sure we had this at every branch that has a larger teen population. It should be readily accessible for any teen struggling with coming out.

P.S. I am pretty sure I would have in high school/kind of do have a crush on James Liddell.

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