Minda’s drunk review of Music from Another World by Robin Talley. Thanks NetGalley and Inkyard Press for an advance copy! This book came out on March 31st and you can get it here
What I Drank Prior to Review: Soooo much tequila. Literally so much.
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.
My Summary: This YA LGBTQ+ historical fiction features two young women who are connected through their catholic school’s summer pen pal project in the late 70s. Through letters and diaries entries, they grapple with their religious upbringings, the gay rights movement, and the punk rock scene.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: I ADORED this book. Like seriously could not speak more highly Of it. As someone who is not 100% into the 70s for one reason or another, I was totally swept into this story of two girls who are drawn to each other and the revolution. The historical setting, the punk anger, the slow burn romance—man, all of it was fantastic.
Characters: Tammy and Sharon are so adorable, but also had their issues like people do, ya know? Tammy is a closeted lesbian who is stuck in her aunt and uncle’s cult-ish anti-gay religious circle in lower Cali, but knows who she could be even if she’s scared. Sharon is living in a straight laced neighborhood in San Fran thinking she was normal, until her brother comes out as gay and her world shifts. Suddenly, she finds herself in the midst of a revolution—one that she never asked for. The story mostly focuses on the two of them, just based on the format, but I also really liked Sharon’s brother even if he was selfish at times. Aunt Mandy—leader of the SoCal church—was objectively terrifying. You really feel how much fear Tammy feels toward her fundamentalist aunt and uncle.
Plot: The story starts with the two girls at separate ends of California connecting through a penpal project. Both have their secrets and are wary of the other at first so It was precious reading them warm up to each other. As the plot unfolds, they get figuratively and literally closer together. The pacing of everything was great.
World Building: Every letter oozed 70s flavor and punk angst. I loved it.
Writing Style: The letter writing and diary format really worked for this book. It was great to read what they were sharing with each other and then their totally honest personal thoughts. It also made the romance portion that much better.
Recommendation: This book is inspiring to anyone who is looking for their place or has found it. But also a little heartbreaking for all the kids who feel like they can’t be their true selves.
Drink Pairing: Ooo what’s like an angry punk drink? I’m thinking a really hoppy IPA. Like crazy hops.
Rating: 5/5 shots, seriously adored