Title: Music From Another World
Author: Robin Talley
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publication Date: March 31, 2020
Rating: 5 / 5 Stars
Source: Digital ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley
Set during the late 70’s, Music From Another World is a beautifully hopeful book told through letters and diary entries. I absolutely love epistolary novels, it’s such a fun way to get to know characters and I love the way we get a look into the characters thoughts through their own words.
Sharron and Tammy become pen pals through a school program in which they are supposed to write to each other over the summer and then complete a report summarizing their experience when they return to school the next year. Sharon lives with her mother and brother. Her mom is a teacher at her Christian school and her brother has recently told Sharron that he is gay. Though Sharron wasn’t sure what to think at first, she has come around to the idea, but they are both still keeping the secret from their mother. Tammy also lives in a conservative household. Her aunt and uncle run a well known church and though Tammy no longer believes in god, she is forced to hide that and the fact that she is lesbian from her family while stuffing envelopes with brochures denouncing homosexuals.
In Tammy’s diary entries she writes to Harvey Milk, expressing how much she looks up to him and telling him her feelings on the secrets she must keep from her family. While Harvey is on the peripheral in Tammy’s life, Sharron’s brother Peter takes her to a rally where Harvey Milk is speaking and she feels a rush like never before. Sharron also begins exploring punk music and starts to see life outside her small comfort zone. She and Tammy bond over this love of punk music and begin connecting even more as they share secrets. Both girls live in worlds where they feel out of place and like they don’t really belong. Through their letters back and forth, the girls realize they can confide in each other. They make a pact to be honest in their letters, never crossing anything out or going back and rewriting, and to keep all secrets.
This was such a moving, historical fiction book. It tells the story in a way that keeps you turning the pages while also making you want to reach through the book and hug the characters and tell them everything will be ok. It’s amazing how far we have come with gay rights, but it also made me pause and notice how far we still have to go. I love how brave and wonderful these characters are at such a young age and it left me feeling hopeful.
Thank you so much to Inkyard Press for sending me a copy of this book for review!
“I just want to tell someone, Harvey. So much. I don’t think I even realized it until this pen pal thing started, but suddenly it’s as if I’m desperate for someone to know who I really am.”
-Robin Talley, Music From Another World
Synopsis: 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.
Robin Talley studied literature and communications at American University. She lives in Washington, DC, with her wife, but visits both Boston and New York regularly despite her moral opposition to Massachusetts winters and Times Square. Her first book was 2014’s Lies We Tell Ourselves. Visit her online at robintalley.com or on Twitter at @robin_talley.
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