Try free for 2 months

1 credit a month to use on any title, yours to keep (you’ll use your first credit on this title).
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
Access to exclusive deals and discounts.
AUD $16.45/mo after 2 months. Renews automatically. Cancel anytime.
We Contain Multitudes cover art

We Contain Multitudes

By: Sarah Henstra
Narrated by: Matthew Gouveia,Tony Kim
Try for $0.00

AUD $16.45/mo after 2 months. Renews automatically. Cancel anytime.

Buy Now for $26.99

Buy Now for $26.99

Pay using voucher balance (if applicable) then card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions Of Use and Privacy Notice and authorise Audible to charge your designated credit card or another available credit card on file.

Publisher's Summary

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 teen 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.

©2019 Sarah Henstra (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"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

More from the same

What listeners say about We Contain Multitudes

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    26
  • 4 Stars
    3
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    26
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    21
  • 4 Stars
    7
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

just extraordinary

so beautiful. extraordinary. I cried and was moved. thank you. X X X X

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing

This is one of the best audio books I have ever listened to. The characters had me engaged from the beginning. I went on a roller coaster ride throughout the book and found myself laughing and crying at different stages along the way in response to the story. Thank you for an amazing piece of work.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Robert Jason
  • Robert Jason
  • 15-05-2019

A lot to like here, but...

The format of the story, ie: letters, really dilutes the story overall. Every letter, or most, becomes more about moving the plot forward than being a genuine heart-felt moment of revelation or discovery.

The writing is at times very beautiful, and the characters are wonderfully fleshed out (thanks to excellent narrators), but they never really jumped off the page for me and I think that is because of the way Henstra chose to tell this particular story. There have been a great many letters saved from history between lovers that tell interesting stories. I suspect those letters fascinate us not because their writers told us the plot, but showed us something about humanity, emotions like love and desire. Even for a YA title, the letters never get above luke-warm.

There is something that works here, particularly Kurl's journey of discovery, but there's also a lot missing here.

And, one of my biggest complaints in general about titles like this is wondering why women(and straight men) are telling the stories of gay men and boys. Perhaps that is the ingredient missing. I'm not sure. Nothing against Sarah Henstra, but I wish more gay writers would tell their stories. Authenticity matters. So does representation.

Still, overall, WCM has it's moments even if those moments never really shine as bright or reach their full potential due to the constraints of the format.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Frimet G.
  • Frimet G.
  • 05-12-2020

Just don't read this

The age gap between the protaginists is beyond uncomfortable considering that one of them is a freshman and the other is a senior who was held back. That means that one I can assume to be 14 or 15 and the other could be 18 or 19. There is also a scene in the book in which the freshman's sister has sex with the senior. The senior was under the influence of alcohol and is described as barely conscious. The freshman forgives his sister immediately for essentially assaulting his boyfriend, but he can't seem to forgive his senior boyfriend who, I will repeat, was drunk. This book just made me extremely uncomfortable in every way possible. Please for the love of everything, do not listen to this audio book.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jay
  • Jay
  • 09-07-2019

Lovely, passionate epistolary novel...but

I'm a sucker for happy stories. I'm a sucker for weird gay kids because I was one.
This story can be compared to Call Me By Your Name in the emotional heat that it produces. The pivoting on Walt Whitman renewed my interest in the poet.

Here's the "but"
The quiet angry abused older writer (Curly?) metamorphised too rapidly, too completely, too transformatively (if that's not redundant). While still be regularly abused he took on superhero status. And what person writes a letter to the person they had sex with describing (blow by blow, figuratively speaking only) what happened. It's a contorted use of the epistolary style to provide narrative. And what teacher gives this kind of assignment that has no adult review to help facilitate growth? And what assertive, openly gay, intelligent, precociously insightful 10th grader allows himself to be mercilessly bullied without getting the support of his supportive dad, his teachers and other adults in the environment? This takes place in 2016. I was a teacher in high school in Florida prior to this time (I've since retired). This would not have gone unnoticed by the professional staff in Florida, let alone urban Minneapolis.

Yes, I did suspend belief. Yes, I would read other books she wrote.

To the person who wrote that he can't understand women and straight men writing gay literature, I've asked myself the same question so I thought about it. I'm not sure that's not a form of homophobia, For example Yaoi is a genre of fictional media originating in Japan that features homoerotic relationships between male characters. Writers aren't always writing novels that are cloaked autobiographies or we'd have few horror or mass murder novels.

This book was a journey or two journeys for two complex, loner youths. I cried and I was in the characters' corners cheering them on. OK, I just changed my score on the story from 3 to 4.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Maxemo
  • Maxemo
  • 14-04-2021

It Gets... Worse

The beginning of this book was beyond wonderful. I wanted to give it fifteen stars... out of five. I was ready to weep for joy at the beauty I was reading and the unique method of storytelling employed by the author. While I continued to enjoy the book, the first hint that things weren't perfect came when I realized that she was moving the plot along quite unnaturally by having the main characters tell each other in letters what they'd just finished saying to each other, and what they'd just finished doing together. A bit of that might have worked. But this went on for hours. Though the way she advanced the story was a bit tedious in and of itself, the story was still worth listening to.

But about halfway through the book, any darkness that was hinted at began to take center stage. A good gay-themed book tells the reader (and in this case, the reader might well be a teen) that it gets better. But the only message I as an adult was receiving was that it gets worse... much worse. Abuse, bullying, betrayal, abandonment—it was all there in spades. The hopelessness I felt until the final chapter was haunting.

I am sure that Ms Henstra sees herself as some kind of ally. She probably thinks she was doing the gay community a favor by writing this novel. The fact that she inserted half-assed redemption in the end probably made it all okay, she was probably thinking. If so, she was dead wrong. If, in order to get to the good stuff at the end, an adolescent has to go through this kind of torture and pain, then there are probably many who might listen to this book and decide it's simply not worth it. I cannot recommend this book at all. It's simply painful.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for LeAundra Jones
  • LeAundra Jones
  • 17-05-2020

Gorgeous story!!!

I loved it! And I'm not usually into the whole YA romance theme. Gorgeous storytelling.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Lance
  • Lance
  • 17-10-2019

Great voice acting

Cannot commend the voice actors enough. The story was heart wrenching and beautiful at the same time. My only complaint is that the letter format the story is based on feels out of place in certain places. Overlooking that it is perfect

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ray Paramo
  • Ray Paramo
  • 26-08-2019

A Wonderful Concept; Not the Best Execution

Henstra's 'We Contain Multitudes' composes a very intriguing and interesting concept: two boys meet over the course of a penpal assignment in English class, ultimately help one another through various difficulties, fall in love... the story is an enjoyable and heartfelt one, albeit riddled with some tired high-school cliches. The novel's epistolary (letter-writing) format, however, just didn't work for me. The letters were far too detailed and expository to be realistic and, in many ways, felt like they only existed to forward the narrative. I do want to praise the audiobook's performances; both narrators did an excellent job of portraying Little Jo and Kurl. Though I wasn't the biggest fan of HOW the novel was told, I can say that I ultimately still enjoyed it for what it offered. If you're on the fence, and you're a fan of the epistolary format, this novel may be for you.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Donald Knerr
  • Donald Knerr
  • 26-06-2020

this was a very extraordinary book beautifully wri

I love this book doing a beautiful love story that heard nearly enough those two boys are so beautiful I will miss them thank you for this

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kindle Customer
  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-01-2020

Soooo good

This book is just amazing. The plot and characters are so intriguing and I could not put the book down.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Robert Byrd
  • Robert Byrd
  • 19-02-2024

I love this book so much

I've read this once and listened to it twice. The two narrators are absolutely perfect. Maybe it should come with trigger warnings, as it deals with (no spoilers, I promise) abuse and bullying. The characters aren't the two dimensional protagonists I've read/listened to in other books. They have flaws, they make mistakes. At times I was smiling, at other times wiping tears. I just love this freaking book so much!

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 27-01-2021

Highly Triggering

This book is great. The plot is well written, the representation is great and it I realistic.
However, I have a huge complain with a large amount of the story. The story contains many many instance of hate crimes and physical abuse from a parental figure and PTSD. That's normally fine however this book has no trigger warning anywhere to be found and so, when it suddenly shows up it can be immensely triggering for people!
And it was!! Every time I tried to listen I would be in turmoil as I felt the need to read it because I enjoyed the story but there was slowly more and more triggering content that I was not warned about.
This caused me to go on a few months long break before the final chapter. Due to the break, finishing the book made me feel unaccomplished and generally pointless.

This is the only reason I have rated it so low. It is immensely damaging to people with these triggers and it not like they are uncommon triggers.
My review would probably by 5 stars if it was not for the lack of warning.

Please, if you intend to read it, not that it contains:
- hate criming / homophobia
- Physical abuse (adult abusing child under care)
- PTSD from the mentioned abuse

(Also the scene where clay was trying to get back with Jo kinda rubber me the wrong way. He was kissing an touching him and Jo game no clear consent and the whole scene felt heavily manipulative of clay??)

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jack O
  • Jack O
  • 18-10-2020

Unenjoyable

This book is a perfect example of why straight people shouldn't write book's about LGBTQIA+ relationships. The charcters come off as annoying and selfish with little redeeming features. The format is a good idea, letters are a great way of telling a story but, its slow and drawn out. about 1/4 of the book could be cut and make a more enjoyable reading expirence.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Daniel Natt
  • Daniel Natt
  • 05-11-2023

very unlikable

I've listened to this twice now, I had completely forgotten everything in between both listens, so it felt new and fresh both times.

The VA performance was good, enough differentiation between characters to make it interesting, but sometimes the tone felt very flat.

My main issue comes from the writing itself. The concept of a story entirely told through letter is interesting and different enough to spark interest. The characters, however, are wholly unlikeable. I have never read a book where I can genuinely say I do not like any of the characters in the slightest.

I struggle to understand their motivations and reasonings for most things. There is no real character development for anyone, and the small amount there is feels undermined by the fact that the character still feels 2D and only defined by 1 basic characteristic.

I shouldn't be able to listen to an entire book, and the summary of the character at the beginning is the same as in the end. The most interesting revelation in the entire story happens to a character that died before the story even began, and even then, the characters' reactions to this felt so disingenuous and confusing to me.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-10-2023

Delightful bittersweet romance, very well performe

The performances are truly excellent, and bring to life a genuine, wrenching story told in a charming epistolary form that works surprisingly well.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Frederick Anthony Winnall
  • Frederick Anthony Winnall
  • 17-10-2022

Multitude

One of the best stories I have read. Carefully and imaginably crafted. The story line has many twists but the finale is exceptionally moving

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Oliver Bliss
  • Oliver Bliss
  • 29-08-2022

Made my heart sing

Beautiful narration which on several occasions turned me into a pool of emotion😭
Great story telling with punchy pace. The backdrop of characters are rich and vivid and draw out additional issues which are peppered in the main structure of the story. My only critique is that the structure is in letter writing between us the two characters. Occasionally they overly justify why they are writing to each other in such great detail. It wasn’t needed, the romance of the whole thing just carries me through without need to clarify the joy of their desire to connect through writing. Anyone bookish or romantic will love this. It’s tender, it sexy and it’s passionate. Loved it

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for james
  • james
  • 16-06-2021

Couldn’t finish it

I have tried multiple times to get through this book but it is so drawn out and bland that I simply couldn’t enjoy it

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Corey T
  • Corey T
  • 23-04-2021

I loved this

I absolutely loved this book! So many moments that had me feeling so many things. Such a different way to write a story and I loved how it went.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 24-02-2021

A sweet love story

I really loved this book and I found it both believable and relatable despite it being a long time since I was the age of the two main characters. I really became invested in their developing relationship and was rooting for them. The voice actors do an excellent job and l'd have no problem reccomending this title.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Frankie
  • Frankie
  • 10-11-2020

An incredible book made even more beautiful and painful

The voice actors deserve all the praise. Their expert narration brought Henstra’s masterful writing to a new height by turning the book into a sort of cinematic experience for the listener.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.