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True Letters from a Fictional Life
Cover of True Letters from a Fictional Life
True Letters from a Fictional Life
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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 his friend, a boy, who lingers in his thoughts.

James's secret letters are his safe space—but his truth can't stay hidden for long. Will he come clean to his parents, his teammates, and himself, or is he destined to live a life of fiction?

This heartfelt debut novel explores the muddy landscape of truth and lies and lays bare the sometimes painful but often hopeful work of writing one's own authentic story.

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 his friend, a boy, who lingers in his thoughts.

James's secret letters are his safe space—but his truth can't stay hidden for long. Will he come clean to his parents, his teammates, and himself, or is he destined to live a life of fiction?

This heartfelt debut novel explores the muddy landscape of truth and lies and lays bare the sometimes painful but often hopeful work of writing one's own authentic story.

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About the Author-
  • Kenneth Logan grew up in New Jersey and taught high school English in Vermont and San Francisco. He lives in Brooklyn. You can visit him online at www.kennethloganbooks.com.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 23, 2016
    Debut author Logan gives voice to a confused, closeted teen from a small Vermont town. James Liddel, 17, is a perfectly happy star athlete with a "sort-of girlfriend," Theresa, who adores him, and a crew of close friends. But James has a secret that he's sure will destroy his life: he is gay. Certain that his friends and family will reject him once they find out—not an entirely unfounded fear, as most of his friends regularly lob "homo" and "faggot" as insults—James is only truthful about his feelings in the letters he writes but never intends to send. These diary-like letters (which get out, naturally) reveal the pains James goes to in order to hide from those around him. A series of events, including an attack on the only openly gay boy in school, sets James on a course to disclose his sexuality. Logan tackles the complexities of coming out thoughtfully, presenting realistic (and not always fully supportive) responses to James's revelation, as well as his own sometimes-uncharitable attitudes. Ages 13–up. Agent: Rebecca Podos, Rees Literary.

  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2016
    When the truth is a secret, even friends believe the fiction. Vermont 17-year-old James Liddell is a cute, popular (enough) athlete, and so are his friends. He likes how people behave toward him when he is with his sort-of girlfriend, Theresa--but when he's honest with himself, he has a crush on his friend Tim Hawken. James is only 100-percent honest in the letters he writes to friends and family but never sends. He locks them in a desk drawer and has written so many he's lost count. Then he meets Topher and begins cautiously to come out. When he's just started to crack the closet door, someone steals some of the secret letters and sends them to their intended recipients--and everything threatens to come crashing down, just as James has always feared it would. Can he juggle coming out, a new boyfriend, old friends, and the mystery of who stole his letters? Logan's debut is a funny and realistic coming-out tale set firmly in the present in a small, upper-middle-class, mostly white Vermont town, where black friend Derek stands out. The rounded characters deal with betrayal and honesty and love and near tragedy in ways teen readers, gay or straight, will recognize. If there are an awful lot of "dudes" in the dialogue, that just adds to the verisimilitude. Just the right touch of humor, mystery, drama, and romance should earn this a place on every teen bookshelf. (Fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    May 1, 2016

    Gr 9 Up-Seventeen-year-old James reveals his true self only in letters he keeps locked away and never intends to send. As far as everyone knows, popular athlete James is happy with his sort-of girlfriend, Theresa. But James's letters tell a different story: James is pretty sure he is gay. The only problem is that he is surrounded by people who seem like they might not react well to that news. His friends frequently use homophobic slurs, and his parents say things like they are glad he is "normal," not like his gay classmate who had his skull cracked recently. James meets Topher, whom he secretly starts dating, and considers coming out to his friends and family. But before he can, someone steals some of his letters and starts the process for him. Logan shines at creating strong, nuanced characters who behave realistically and unpredictably. Despite their tendency to trash-talk and their reliance on horrible slurs, James and his friends have deep, meaningful, complex bonds. The protagonist's story is about struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. While he knows who he really is, he is uncomfortable with facing this. In a letter to God, James asks him for "a cure for boys who like other boys." Though readers may be turned off by the near-constant homophobia that permeates the story, Logan's look at a boy reconciling his private and public selves is well written and affecting.

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus Reviews (starred) "A funny and realistic coming-out tale... The rounded characters deal with betrayal and honesty and love and near tragedy in ways teen readers, gay or straight, will recognize. Just the right touch of humor, mystery, drama, and romance should earn this a place on every teen bookshelf."
  • Robbie Rogers, LA Galaxy midfielder, former midfielder for the US National Soccer Team "We need stories that give courage to kids struggling to be honest with themselves and others about who they are. Logan tells one that will give you hope and make you laugh."
  • School Library Journal "James and his friends have deep, meaningful, complex bonds... Logan's look at a boy reconciling his private and public selves is well written and affecting."
  • Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) "A wonderful book that will encourage young readers to seek authenticity and stand up for their true selves... LGBT teens, as well as straight, will recognize much of their lives in this story. Highly recommended."
  • Publishers Weekly "Logan tackles the complexities of coming out thoughtfully, presenting realistic (and not always fully supportive) responses to James's revelation."
  • Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books "[James'] painful, funny experiences with family, love, and friends will resonate with many teens."
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True Letters from a Fictional Life
Kenneth Logan
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