May 17, 2012

Book Review: The Letter Q

Editor:  Sarah Moon
Contributing Editor:  James Lecesne
Length:  266 pages
Publisher:  Arthur Levine Books (an imprint of Scholastic Inc.)
One-Sale Date:  May 1, 2012
Format:  Hardcover

The Letter Q is a novel that contains letters written by authors to their younger selves.
This book consists of sixty-four letters; each written by a different young adult author, and every author is proudly lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.  These authors have written letters, or drawn comics, that are filled with advice, humor, love, honesty, and self-acceptance.
Flashback:  I come home to a brown envelope, and I excitedly tear it open.  I look at the book, The Letter Q, and I think, “This isn’t the type of book I usually read”.  I read the cover, shake my head, and read the cover again.  Now, I have the biggest smile on my face.  I read the press release that’s been slipped inside the book, and I pause when I see Brian Selznick’s name (he wrote The Invention of Hugo Cabret!).  I immediately find his story and read it.  I’m crying before I get to the end. 
Fast-forward:  After I read Brian Selznick’s letter I read the book with the proper care it deserved.  I read the inside jacket; I cried.  I read the three-page introduction and cried.  I cried when I read the first story, and yes, I cried reading Brian’s story the second time.

I am so happy this book exists.

Reading this book was a moving experience and I was honored that the authors chose to share their stories.

You are worthy of love.
You are worthy of respect."  - Benoit Denizet-Lewis (198)

The Letter Q was powerful because it was real.  These stories were not imagined.  These were people sharing their lives with us.  It was humbling to read such honesty.  Each authors’ letter was personal and private, and it felt as if I was given a backstage pass.  Every journey was emotional, and the reader will be affected by the words.  (I know I was).
Everyone has felt scared or insecure or broken.  Some people have considered drastic ways to end the pain.  Countless have gotten their hearts broken, and many have been ridiculed for one reason or another.  The stories in The Letter Q were full of that kind of pain, but the prevailing message was that it gets better.  Each letter provides hope and guidance to the reader.

These letters were full of lessons learned, chances taken, and advice given.

Leave home.  Fail marvelously, and succeed even better.– Nick Burd (212)

The lessons and morals in The Letter Q are universal.

Benoit Denizet-Lewis said, Everyone can be hurt.  It’s okay to be hurt, to show hurt.  It’s also okay to be scared, to not know what to say or what to do …(197) 

The book had a flow to it, and I admired how it was arranged. It felt like it was supposed to be in that order.  By the end I was just blown away.
I liked that some stories discussed religion and theology, but that faith wasn’t the main focus of the novel.

The Letter Q had a more serious tone and was filled with heavy, heartfelt material.  However, there were places where I laughed, (some of the men advised themselves of which stock to buy), and even more where I smiled.
Maybe you should think about writing vampire stories, they might come back into fashion someday. – Jewelle Gomez (147)
This book was meant to be helpful, not hurtful, and it succeeded.

The truth is always obvious.  If something feels wrong, it is probably wrong.– Nick Burd (212)

I couldn’t tell you that I remember every story, but there were some lines that stuck with me.  After I finished reading I was filled with understanding and joy.  I felt lighter and completely happy.

I don’t think I could share my life the way these authors did.
To each contributor of The Letter Q, I say:  “Thank you”.

Premise:  5/5
Plot:  5/5
Writing:  5/5
Overall:  5/5

Disclosure:  I received a finished copy from the publisher.  This did not influence my review in any way.

Note I:  This is an anthology written by 64 authors.  Therefore, I only included the editors' names.  For a full list of authors you can go HERE.
Note II:  I usually rate characters as well, but I did not think that was appropriate to do for this book.

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