About Vermont Humanities

Vermont Reads Book Choice 2021: We Contain Multitudes by Sarah Henstra

By Sahra Ali

Montpelier VT: Vermont Humanities recently announced its Vermont Reads book choice for 2021: We Contain Multitudes by Sarah Henstra.

Vermont Reads is Vermont Humanities’ statewide community reading program. Since 2003, the organization has invited students, adults, and seniors across the state to read the same book and participate in a wide variety of community activities related to the book’s themes. Over 200 different Vermont towns, cities, and villages have participated in Vermont Reads to date.

This year’s book, We Contain Multitudes explores themes of love, friendship, and survival through the growing the relationship between two high school boys. Author Sarah Henstra is a professor of English at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario, and the author of two previous novels, Mad Miss Mimic and The Red Word, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award in Canada.

“Henstra shows us the deep resilience of these two boys struggling with powerful forces in their lives, while demonstrating how writing, music, and poetry can bridge wide gaps between people of diverse backgrounds and experiences,” notes Christopher Kaufman Ilstrup, executive director at Vermont Humanities. “Vermont Humanities is proud to launch Vermont Reads 2021 during the month of June, known as LGBTQ+ Pride Month in countries around the world.”

Additionally, Vermont Humanities has partnered with organizations that can assist in community discussions around the book. They are Outright Vermont, The Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence’s Youth Advocacy Task Force, The Howard Center, and Recovery Vermont. Each of these organizations is prepared to offer resources and assistance. Those interested in engaging with the book through dynamic facilitated discussion can contact Vermont Humanities for more information.

“I couldn’t put We Contain Multitudes down because the story unfolded with so many interesting hooks and tempting calls to find out what happened next,” says Mara Iverson, director of education at Outright Vermont. “And the most important part, for me, is that it depicted a realistic queer teen relationship. We witness two people learning more about themselves and the world through their connection. It’s not a fairy tale story, but the tough and lovely realities braided together make it a powerful read.”

Kaufman Ilstrup said that Sarah Henstra will be available to participate in a limited number of Vermont Reads projects via Zoom throughout the program year. Any community organization may apply to host Vermont Reads. Vermont Humanities strongly encourages collaborations with other organizations and businesses.

Visit vtreads.org for application information and additional resources.

About Vermont Humanities

A statewide nonprofit organization founded in 1974, Vermont Humanities seeks to engage all Vermonters in the world of ideas, foster a culture of thoughtfulness, and inspire a lifelong love of reading and learning. Learn more at www.vermonthumanities.org