by Robin Talley
YA Contemporary, Historical, LGBTQ
In 1955, eighteen-year-old Janet Jones keeps the love she shares with her best friend Marie a secret. It’s not easy being gay in Washington, DC, in the age of McCarthyism, but when she discovers a series of books about women falling in love with other women, it awakens something in Janet. As she juggles a romance she must keep hidden and a newfound ambition to write and publish her own story, she risks exposing herself—and Marie—to a danger all too real.
Sixty-two years later, Abby Zimet can’t stop thinking about her senior project and its subject—classic 1950s lesbian pulp fiction. Between the pages of her favorite book, the stresses of Abby’s own life are lost to the fictional hopes, desires and tragedies of the characters she’s reading about. She feels especially connected to one author, a woman who wrote under the pseudonym “Marian Love,” and becomes determined to track her down and discover her true identity.
In this novel told in dual narratives, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley weaves together the lives of two young women connected across generations through the power of words. A stunning story of bravery, love, how far we’ve come and how much farther we have to go.
I have to start this review off with stating the obvious: how much I adored this book.
I actually feel so privileged to have read such a captivating book! Following a dual-historical narratives, we meet Abby who starts work on her senior project in the present day looking at lesbian pulp fiction from the 50s. We also have Janet Jones, who’s living in the 50s and realising that she starts feeling romantic feelings towards her best friend Marie, but I think we all know how gay people were viewed back then.
My absolute favourite thing about this book was how much of an insight it gave me into a part of history that I had no idea about! I thought the whole time period was portrayed so accurately and learning all about the Lavender Scare and queer America pre-Stonewall. It also has such an amazing, diverse cast. Both of the romances were so different in their own ways but similar in another. I felt both were done really well and I was left very satisfied at the end of this book, which is not always the case as I’m sure you all know. I have another Robin Talley book that I own that I’m looking forward to getting around to now. Also, her newest book that was released just a few days ago I believe, sounds right up my street: Music From Another World.
My only issue with this book was that I felt there were so many characters that I had to wrap my head around, particularly relationships. There were a lot of wlw relationships in this, which was obviously not a bad thing, but I felt there were so many names that I had to get used to before I could really understand the story. Other than that, I really did enjoy it and I recommend for everyone!
Especially for those who want to learn more about queer culture, and particularly the lesbian community and all the struggles that they face that are often overlooked in history.