Book Review: Music From Another World by Robin Talley

Add Music To Another World to your Goodreads TBR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44786181-music-from-another-world

Published in Australia on the 2nd April 2020 by HQ YA, an imprint Harper Collins.

Purchase Links:

Harper Collins Australia:

Book Details

Dymocks:

https://www.dymocks.com.au/book/music-from-another-world-by-robin-talley-9781867202257

Amazon AU:

Booktopia:

https://www.booktopia.com.au/music-from-another-world-robin-talley/book/9781335146779.html

Australian RRP: $19.99

ISBN: 9781867202257

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction, LGBTQIA+ Fiction.

Page Count: 416

My Rating:

Sypnosis from HarperCollins Australia:

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 organises anti-gay 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 mum – and the kind she tells herself. But as anti-gay fervour 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 Review:

Inequality is something that always has baffled me truthfully. I can not grasp why some people with their holier-than-thou personas seem to have it ingrained in their mind that homosexuality is a sin! That there are actually people that rally their followers to preach the same, that these people are going to go to hell or need to be saved from temptation purely because they love someone of the same gender. These people try and instill fear in others and that’s absolutely unacceptable at all costs, when it boils down to it, people shouldn’t be made to be feeling shameful or fearful because of who they love, nor should they have to suppress these feelings.

In Music From Another World, we’re taken into two very different young females lives. We have Tammy, a closeted lesbian who has always had to suppress that she has feelings towards girls, her family being heavily Christian and among the biggest supporters of anti – gay rights Campaigner Anita Bryant. Throughout Tammy’s chapters my heart just broke for her, I mean her family force her to rally voters for their anti-gay lobbyist and Tammy is completely powerless to speak up because she knows her family would disown her. It’s just completely gut-wrenching that Tammy can’t be herself and has to go through so much trauma. Her only solace is writing secret, un-posted letters to gay rights activist Harvey Milk, which I thought were among the highlights of this book! They’re completely beautiful and even though Tammy is States apart from San Francisco, where people can slightly more celebrate being gay, for Tammy it feels as if it’s another world. It’s completely when Tammy discovers the music of Patti Smith that she finds herself thinking why is the the one always so afraid, that how she’s been made to feel by her relatives, how she’s always had to feel, is just completely unnecessary and wrong. Throughout Tammy’s letters to Harvey Milk, I could feel every ounce of her angst, anger, heartbreak, devastation and frustration. Robin Talley just oozes so much emotion throughout this book, I instantly fell in love with both Tammy and Sharon’s story.

Sharon, who lives in San Francisco with her Mother and gay Brother, was a slightly different perspective to what I was anticipating. Initially I absolutely adored how much she and Tammy clicked when they started communicating via Post to one another as Pen Pals for a School project, opening up to one another and telling one another about their day to day lives, but both having to still keep their darkest secrets to themselves. Both are completely afraid to think what the other might think when these secrets are divulged, because as they’ve been surrounded by such toxicity throughout their lives, well, naturally they think they can’t trust some another with such a raw truth!

When the reader first meets Sharon, she’s a devoted Sister and Daughter, she adores her Brother and even though she herself initially recalls in a flashback that she was upset and not happy with her beloved Brother being gay (note, their mum is an anti-gay supporter, too), she doesn’t know what to think. I loved her lightbulb moment though, she sees her Brother write to a boyfriend and thinks to herself that if he’s happy, surely that’s okay then. While Tammy’s points of view alternate between her letters to Harvey and Sharon, it’s Sharon’s narrative that’s split between her diary entries and letters to Tammy. This unique format of storytelling to me just added to the emotions and poignancy of the book, as I found myself drawing closer to the end, I felt like I didn’t want it to end! When I was in the early parts of this novel, I didn’t know if Tammy and Sharon would meet or if they’d keep communicating as they’d been doing, but I was definitely invested right from the get go so couldn’t wait to find out! Sharon’s character development was always really fascinating to read about, even though she loved her boyfriend and always saw herself as straight, she never felt like she fitted in anywhere, which I found to be rather sad and I did feel sorry for her. I absolutely loved how she felt that realisation slowly about herself, though I wish she perhaps hadn’t tried to be so brutal towards herself when it was quite evident what she had been feeling, it just caused even more hurt for everyone and I just wanted both girls to rejoice in themselves and their newfound bond! However what followed with both Sharon and Tammy made for an absolutely wonderful reading experience, everyone needs to read Music From Another World.

The family dynamic between Sharon and her Brother and Mother was just as poignant as reading about Tammy’s suppression from her family, too. Peter, Sharon’s Brother, feels he can never tell their Mother that he’s gay, for fear of being disowned. I really enjoyed the Brother-Sister dynamic through between Sharon and Peter and loved how close they are and how they’ll always support one another. I just struggled with Sharon’s coming to terms with herself and how she just tried to deny it right away rather than think about something which had always been within her, I think. But oh, angst aside, there is so much to celebrate in Music From Another World! So many moments where women gathered to celebrate feminist empowerment and gay pride. I loved the scene where Tammy, Peter, Sharon and their friends attend a march where Harvey Milk appears and delivers one of his rousing speeches about activism, I just couldn’t help but feel so excited and impassioned for them all!

Music From Another World captures such a fascinating and equally poignant era of 70’s San Francisco and Orange County, where people would suppress other people and try to demonise then because their feelings and instincts go against what’s considered godly, but I just love how these people are done putting up with it. Their love is every bit as pure and right as anyone else’s and reading about Sharon and Tammy’s seperate journeys and seeing them intersect together was nothing short of an absolute pleasure to experience! This book will make you laugh, cry, cheer in happiness and cry again in fury for unjust discrimination but cry happy tears again when these lovely souls celebrate their love for one another and who they are and oh, you’ll hopefully feel all the pride! I was just so proud of Sharon for standing up for herself after so much turmoil and was totally cheering!

I’m calling Music From Another World one of my favourite reads of this year, an easy 5 stars from me which I felt it would be as soon as I immersed myself into the story of Sharon and Tammy! I highly recommend everyone read this book and I cannot wait to read more by Robin Talley!

A huge, huge thank you to the lovely team at Harlequin Books Australia for sending me a copy of this absolute gem to read and review. It’s out now so definitely give it a read! 🙂

Happy Reading,

Brooklyn.

About the Author:

Robin Talley grew up in Roanoke, Virginia, writing terrible teen poetry and riding a desegregation bus to the school across town. A Lambda Literary Fellow, Robin lives in Washington, D.C., with her fiancée, plus an antisocial cat and a goofy hound dog. When Robin’s not writing, she’s often planning communication strategies at organizations fighting for equal rights and social justice. You can find her on the web at http://www.robintalley.com or on Twitter at @robin_talley.

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