We Contain Multitudes is a Vermont Reads 2021 book, a program of the Vermont Humanities Council.
This book is raw and ragey and full of poetry, first loves, bullies, music, domestic violence and fashion. It's not for the faint of heart. Whitman fans will be tickled.— Sam
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 teenage 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.
About the Author
Sarah Henstra is a professor of English at Ryerson University. Sarah is the author of the YA novel Mad Miss Mimic and the adult novel The Red Word. Sarah lives in Ontario, Canada.
Praise for We Contain Multitudes:
*"A love story, a therapy session, a reason to read Whitman-the sweetness of unexpected amour is here, as is the saline of sadness...Your reason to root for love-and the power of the pen."
—Kirkus, starred review
*"This is an absolutely extraordinary work of fiction that proves the epistolary novel is an art form. Kurl and Jo are characters to die for, emotionally compelling and empathetic. Their quotidian lives are riveting and their story unforgettable...not to be missed."—Booklist, starred review
"...as a medium for reporting day-to-day occurrences and conveying intimate feelings and classic themes-love, lust, and betrayal, among others-the letters shine."—Publishers Weekly
"...her [Hentra's] skill lies in painstakingly depicting each boy's slow move toward vulnerability until a smoldering, secret romance begins. This exploration of self and sexuality is sure to be quickly embraced by fans of Love, Simon, They Both Die in the End and The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue"
"We Contain Multitudes is a heartbreaker in many ways, but it's ultimately a beautiful story about how love (and poetry) are sometimes enough to carry the day."—Bookpage
"...an epic, sweeping romance..."—Horn Book
"We Contain Multitudes is an emotional journey, both heartbreaking and healing. A true love letter to the way family, friendships, and first loves slowly peel away our carefully constructed walls to the layers beneath. Henstra's words are a universe I never want to escape."
—Julian Winters, author of Running with Lions
"The title of this book is incredibly fitting. Jonathan and Kurl are two complex and fascinating characters, and they instantly drew me into the world created by their letters and their love. It's an astonishing romance and character study that also happens to be full of gorgeous writing."—Robin Talley, author of Lies We Tell Ourselves and Pulp