Hi everyone, hope you’re doing well! Recently I’ve been trying my best to keep on top of my Netgalley TBR but just about as soon as I finish one I request about five more! This is a more recent addition to the TBR, however, and is released in the UK at the end of the month and because I was really feeling something more contemporary after binge reading the Girls of Paper and Fire series I decided to give it a go, and I loved it!
Title: Music From Another World
Author: Robin Talley
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, LGBT
Rating: 5/5 Stars – 9.14 CAWPILE rating
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
I loved this book! The story begins with two teenage girls – one who’s desperately trying to find her identity and another who is desperately trying to hide hers. Tammy and Sharon both grew up in strict, claustrophobic Christian backgrounds in the 70s and haven’t really had much freedom while doing so. One Summer, they get paired together as pen pals for a school project and their friendship blossoms from there.
In Orange County, Tammy is trying to hide the fact that she is a lesbian from her family and her friends while both struggling to meet the expectations of her parents and having to participate in the homophobic protests organised by her extended family. Meanwhile, in San Fransisco, Sharon is slowly becoming enveloped in the local punk scene and helping out leafleting at a local women’s bookshop after being taken to a protest by her closeted gay brother. The two bond over their love of music and slowly become each other’s best friend and closest confidant. I adored Tammy and Sharon’s friendship. They both understood each other’s worries and struggles and cared so, so much about each other, despite never having met. At times, hearing about the homophobia that Tammy and Peter, Sharon’s brother, dealt with, was so hard to read, as it’s something that almost all LGBT people have heard from both strangers and people they love their whole life. Despite this, the book was written with a real hopefulness from start to finish and a real sentiment of how much community and friendship matters, which was so important.
I loved the setting of this book. Being born in the 90s I’m not familiar with the 70s in the slightest, never mind the USA in the 70s, but I adored it nonetheless. It was so much fun reading about the local punk scene, albeit most likely fictional, and the women’s book club and I wish that kind of scene was still around nowadays. It made me feel a sad nostalgia for all the LGBT bookshops, clubs and organisations that I never got to experience. It also made me very nostalgic for Pride and how excited I was to be able to go with my girlfriend of the first time before the virus shut everything down! Nevertheless, I also adore reading about LGBT history and this book was no exception – the backdrop of this book is Harvey Milk getting elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and all the backlash he received for being gay. I had, rather embarrassingly, never heard about this before so I was really interested (and at times saddened) to hear about this piece of LGBT history that was so groundbreaking at the time!
This book really centred around love – love between friends, love between family, conditional love, unconditional love, love within a community, gay love, straight love. It explored identity and being true to who you are, and maybe being a little bit confused as to what exactly that is. And it did all this beautifully. I will always hold this book close to my heart and I loved every second of it!
Overall, as I’ve said countless times in this review, I adored this novel and it definitely at times reminded me of the first half of The Miseducation of Cameron Post, so if you loved that book I’m sure you’ll love this and vice-versa! If you’re in the US, go and check out this book asap! And if you’re in the UK please pre-order it! I’m sure you won’t regret it! As always, stay safe and take care!