Tag Archives: Robin Talley

I received this book for free from the publisher via Netgalley. This in no way affects my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

what we left behindWhat We Left Behind by Robin Talley (Mira Ink, 22 October 2015)

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WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND is one of the truest love stories I've ever read in YA.

Tony and Gretchen met each other in high school and fell in love. They're the perfect couple and they've been together for almost two years when they leave for different universities – Tony to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU. They think they'll survive the long distance, but it's much easier said than done. Tony, who identifies as genderqueer, befriends a group of trans guys at Harvard and feels like this is where he belongs. He slowly figures out more about his gender identity, but he doesn't feel like he can talk to Gretchen about it anymore, as she won't understand him the way his trans guy friends do. Gretchen, on the other hand, is starting to wonder who she is outside of her relationship with Tony. Tony is too busy for Gretchen to visit often, and they begin to drift apart. Can they save their relationship – or more importantly, should they?

NB: Tony is written 'Toni' in the official blurb. When he and Gretchen first meet, Tony is presenting as female and has not yet started identifying as genderqueer, and he and Gretchen were known to everyone as a lesbian couple. However, over the course of the book Tony begins to identify as more on the male end of the spectrum than the female end and decides to adopt he/him pronouns and spell his name with a y instead of an i. Thus I believe it best to call him Tony and use male pronouns for him.

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Lies We Tell OurselvesLies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (Harlequin Teen, 30 September 2014)

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Robin Talley mentions in her author's note at the end that this book was "painful to write". And so it must have been–it was painful to read, too, but in a good way. In an important way.

It is February 1959 in Virginia, and Jefferson High School is being desegregated. Sarah Dunbar, a black girl in her senior year, starts to attend Jefferson, along with nine other students from her black-only school. They're greeted with shouts and spitballs and worse. But Sarah meets a white girl called Linda Hairston, and though Linda opposes integration like the rest, Sarah recognises something in her that seems different, something that seems like potential for change. As they're forced to work together on a school project, they start to get to know each other and realise that maybe some of the things they've believed all their lives aren't so true after all.

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