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What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

What We Left Behind by Robin TalleyWhat We Left Behind by Robin Talley
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 22nd October 2015
Publisher: MIRA Ink
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-half-stars

Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They've been together forever. They never fight. They're deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college—Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU—they're sure they'll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, their relationship will surely thrive.

The reality of being apart, however, is a lot different than they expected. As Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, falls in with a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship.

While Toni worries that Gretchen, who is not trans, just won't understand what is going on, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in Toni's life. As distance and Toni's shifting gender identity begins to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide—have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?

What We Left Behind is Robin Talley’s second novel, a follow up to the excellent Lies We Tell Ourselves. I think it’s fair to say that I had very high expectations for this novel so it was doubly disappointing for me when it didn’t meet any of those expectations at all.

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What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

What We Left Behind by Robin TalleyWhat We Left Behind by Robin Talley
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: October 22, 2015
Publisher: MIRA Ink
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They've been together forever. They never fight. They're deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college—Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU—they're sure they'll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, their relationship will surely thrive.

The reality of being apart, however, is a lot different than they expected. As Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, falls in with a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship.

While Toni worries that Gretchen, who is not trans, just won't understand what is going on, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in Toni's life. As distance and Toni's shifting gender identity begins to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide—have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?

Lies We Tell Ourselves was one of my favourite books of the year last year, and when I found out that Talley’s next book would be about a girl who is a lesbian and a character who identifies as genderqueer, I was incredibly excited. Unfortunately, I was more than a little let down by What We Left Behind, and the reason for that lies with the character of Toni.

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Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin TalleyLies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
Genre: Historical
Release Date: October 3, 2014
Publisher: MIRA Ink
Source: Gift
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-half-stars

It's 1959. The battle for civil rights is raging. And it's Sarah Dunbar's first day of school, as one of the first black students at the previously all-white Jefferson High. No one wants Sarah there. Not the Governor. Not the teachers. And certainly not the students – especially Linda Hairston, daughter of the town’s most ardent segregationist. Sarah and Linda have every reason to despise each other. But as a school project forces them to spend time together, the less their differences seem to matter. And Sarah and Linda start to feel something they've never felt before. Something they're both determined ignore. Because it's one thing to be frightened by the world around you - and another thing altogether when you're terrified of what you feel inside.

Tatum read Lies We Tell Ourselves back in the autumn, and I had been wanting to read it for the longest time. I love historical fiction, and the Civil Rights Movement isn’t a topic that I’ve touched upon in fiction before, so I was very excited to read this book. Not to mention it’s also LGBT and the two main female characters fall in love. I absolutely devoured this book, as I knew that I would!  Continue reading

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin TalleyLies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
Genre: Historical
Release Date: 3rd October 2014
Publisher: MIRA Ink
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

It's 1959. The battle for civil rights is raging. And it's Sarah Dunbar's first day of school, as one of the first black students at the previously all-white Jefferson High. No one wants Sarah there. Not the Governor. Not the teachers. And certainly not the students – especially Linda Hairston, daughter of the town’s most ardent segregationist. Sarah and Linda have every reason to despise each other. But as a school project forces them to spend time together, the less their differences seem to matter. And Sarah and Linda start to feel something they've never felt before. Something they're both determined ignore. Because it's one thing to be frightened by the world around you - and another thing altogether when you're terrified of what you feel inside.

I’m writing this review at the time of the Ferguson protests, and by the time this publishes those events may already be over but I can’t help but think about Ferguson while I remember the things Robin Talley put so much time and passion into recreating. The image of young black teenagers being hurled racist abuse, attacked and threatened while standing up for their right to an education…it breaks my heart a little bit that right now it seems like America (and the world at large) hasn’t learned from the immense, bloody mistakes that make up so much of history.

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