Music From Another World by Robin Talley book review
ARC kindly provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
I didn’t know I needed this book until it came into my life. It was a book with lots of heart and a lot of history embedded in its narrative. I loved reading on about the LGBTQ+ protests and riots in the 70’s especially since I haven’t read a book set during those times. I thought it was extremely relevant to the current state of the world especially since 2020 really has been the year of change and protest. Although the current protests of this year have been about lockdown restrictions and more recently, Black Lives Matter, homophobia is still a very current issue and although it’s easier being queer than it was in those days, it is still a very real issue for some people. I thought that this book really shown the reality of it such as being closeted and living in an extremely religious household.
The book focuses on Tammy, a lesbian girl who needs to keep her sexuality a secret in her family especially since her aunt organises anti-homosexual gatherings. She expresses her feelings in a diary addressed to Harvey Milk, a politician that is pro gay rights and to her pen pal Sharon who herself has a few secrets. Sharon needs to keep her brother’s sexuality a secret from the rest of her family but with that, Sharon begins to question her sexuality and her own identity.
I loved all the characters and thought they were written extremely well including Tammy’s aunt (as horrible as she may have been). It gave a whole new dimension to the book where you could really see the different attitudes of characters in regards to homosexuality. Some were okay with it whereas others were really taken aback and shocked. I liked seeing the different viewpoints and considerations and thought it gave a lot to the story which really highlighted this.
I thought that the pacing made the book comprehensive and readable. It was never slow or too fast and it was written in such a way that it was always interesting to read. I enjoyed the diary and letter form which was completely unexpected. It made Tammy’s and Sharon’s feelings more three-dimensional and made it more entertaining to read.
There were a few things that made me lower my rating: there were a lot of skips in time and I thought that the build up of relationship with Tammy and Sharon was pretty quick. Of course, they were communicating and they became really good friends however it went from friends to “I-sort-of-maybe-really-like-you” fairly quickly. That being said though, their relationship was pretty cute and I was shipping them throughout the whole book.
I think what made the book amazing though was the amount of care and effort Robin Talley has gone into researching key figures of the 1970’s LGBTQ+ movement. It felt like I really was there in Orange County and San Francisco in 1977 and it retained its historical authenticity the whole way through. I also loved the punk rock music references and the love for a genre of music I myself love. It felt nice seeing punk rock culture in book form.
All in all, I loved this book a lot and thought it to be quite relevant to the current state of the world. I think I’ll definitely be reading more of Robin Talley’s books in the future.
ACTUAL RATING: 4.4 STARS