Our Own Private Universe, by Robin Talley
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Fifteen-year-old Aki Simon has a theory. And it’s mostly about sex.
No, it isn’t that kind of theory. Aki already knows she’s bisexual — even if, until now, it’s mostly been in the hypothetical sense. Aki has dated only guys so far, and her best friend, Lori, is the only person who knows she likes girls, too.
Actually, Aki’s theory is that she’s got only one shot at living an interesting life — and that means she’s got to stop sitting around and thinking so much. It’s time for her to actually do something. Or at least try.
So when Aki and Lori set off on a church youth-group trip to a small Mexican town for the summer and Aki meets Christa — slightly older, far more experienced — it seems her theory is prime for the testing.
But it’s not going to be easy. For one thing, how exactly do two girls have sex, anyway? And more important, how can you tell if you’re in love? It’s going to be a summer of testing theories — and the result may just be love.
I don’t know that I’m exactly the right audience for a book like this, given that I didn’t get raised with religion and don’t really understand the fanaticism depicted in books like this and Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit.
To me, this just read like a modern day fic of two girls who were in love but were scared about coming out. And that meant that this wasn’t the most thrilling book that I’ve read by Robin Talley, because it’s been done so many times before. That isn’t to say it was badly written, but it was quite a bit less interesting than I’ve started to expect books by Robin are going to be.
Aki knows that she’s bi at the start of the book. The only person she’s told is her best friend Lori who, thankfully, happens to be okay with it. There isn’t really a lot of on page people not being okay with different sexualities. Quite the opposite, in fact. Instead, what we get is a lot of fear and talking about not being able to be honest about liking people of the same gender.
I found myself not liking Christa for quite a lot of the novel, and the fact that her story was where the majority of the drama came from didn’t really appeal to me as a reader. I was more interested in Aki’s friendships and relationship with her dad. I would have loved to see more of Madison, she seemed kickass.
The story also covers a lot of more interesting points rather than homophobia, such as climate change, safe sex, generational differences, gun control, and general social activism. These too interested me more than the main romance, and I would have loved to see more social activism from this cast of teens throughout the novel, rather than almost all of it being shunted more or less just to the last section of it.
I live in Washington, D.C., with my wife, our baby daughter, an antisocial cat and a goofy hound dog. Whenever the baby’s sleeping, I’m probably busy writing young adult fiction about queer characters, reading books, and having in-depth conversations with friends and family about things like whether Jasmine’s character motivation was sufficiently established in Aladdin.
My website is at robintalley.com
You can purchase Our Own Private Universe from:
Barnes & Noble
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.