How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Harlequin (UK) Limited
Previously reviewed by the same author:
Lies We Tell Ourselves
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?
I absolutely devoured Robin Talley’s debut novel, the amazing Lies We Tell Ourselves. I really wanted to love this book. One, it’s written by the wonderful Robin Talley and two, it’s very much about gender identity and finding yourself which I think should be represented in Young Adult literature. However, I feel like this book came across as a bit too textbook. It didn’t feel overly well developed as a story, the characters were a little bit too judge-y towards heterosexuals and the emphasis on the use of pronouns started to get on my nerves.
Now I will outright admit that I don’t know a lot about those that identify as genderqueer so I can’t speak too much about the topic, or compare it to other books which may be similar, but I don’t believe this book is an overly accurate representation of the identity. I think the problem mainly lies with Toni. Toni is a frustrating character. There is so much information packed into the story and it doesn’t feel natural. It feels like reading non-fiction (which I have no problem with, I just wanted more of a story- not an info-dump!)
I did really enjoy reading from Gretchen’s perspective, who I thought was an adorable character. I don’t think Toni deserved her! That may be harsh of me, I know Toni was struggling with so many issues, but Gretchen was trying to be there for her as much as she could when she was feeling almost as confused about Toni’s identity then Toni was!
I do appreciate that questions about identity, pronouns, predjudice and language are important to be represented in literature. I’m all for that and I think it’s SO important. However, I don’t think the delivery was as solid as it could have been. I did enjoy reading the conversations, but it got so repetitive, especially the talk of pronouns.
I liked the premise of the this book and I really appreciate what Robin is doing with What We Left Behind. This book is certainly going to get people talking and that is what we want. I think it’s important to discuss identity and finding yourself, I just wish it had come across better.
Would I recommend it?: