Title: Music from Another World
Author: Robin Talley
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Publication Date: March 31st, 2020
It’s summer 1977 and closeted lesbian Tammy Larson can’t be herself anywhere. Not at her strict Christian high school, not at her conservative Orange County church and certainly not at home, where her ultrareligious aunt relentlessly organizes antigay political campaigns. Tammy’s only outlet is writing secret letters in her diary to gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk…until she’s matched with a real-life pen pal who changes everything.
Sharon Hawkins bonds with Tammy over punk music and carefully shared secrets, and soon their letters become the one place she can be honest. The rest of her life in San Francisco is full of lies. The kind she tells for others—like helping her gay brother hide the truth from their mom—and the kind she tells herself. But as antigay fervor in America reaches a frightening new pitch, Sharon and Tammy must rely on their long-distance friendship to discover their deeply personal truths, what they’ll stand for…and who they’ll rise against.
A master of award-winning queer historical fiction, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley once again brings to life with heart and vivid detail an emotionally captivating story about the lives of two teen girls living in an age when just being yourself was an incredible act of bravery.
Who doesn’t love some punk rock rebellion? This historical novel is told through letters between new pen pals, Sharon and Tammy, both from ultra-religious households. Tammy is hiding who she really is living in Orange County, California, where her aunt and uncle started a church that basically runs their town. Sharon lives with her single mother and closeted brother in San Francisco during the height of Harvey Milk and the gay rights revolution.
This was a beautifully done look at two young women discovering themselves through new experiences and blossoming relationships. Tammy was very sure of herself and knew that she just needed to put on a smile and get through high school before she could finally leave to start a new life as her real self. Sharon is questioning everything thing around her as she has never felt like she belonged, until she goes to her first punk rock show. She then meets a new friend who helps to open up Sharon’s social views and boundaries. I loved all the supporting characters of this book, but I thought the female bookstore and the gay rights activists who volunteered there was outstanding. I could read an entire book just about the store and all the interpersonal relationships that go on there.
As the two girls are given the assignment to write to their pen pal and then write a paper on the experience, they find solace in each other—connecting through shared feelings of helplessness and their love of music. I do wish there was more talk about music given the title. It seemed to be a little underutilized, kind of thrown in sparingly. Robin Talley really is a spectacular writer.
ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.