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Our Own Private Universe

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  3,049 ratings  ·  460 reviews
Fifteen-year-old Aki Hunter knows she’s bisexual, but up until now she's only dated guys—and her best friend, Lori, is the only person she’s out to. When she and Lori set off on a four-week youth-group mission trip in a small Mexican town, it never crosses Aki's mind that there might be anyone in the group she’d be interested in dating. But that all goes out the window whe ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 20th 2017 by Harlequin Teen AU (first published January 31st 2017)
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Em Well, there are no drugs or alcohol (consumed by the main characters anyway). The characters are very real and quite diverse. The plotline is intrigui…moreWell, there are no drugs or alcohol (consumed by the main characters anyway). The characters are very real and quite diverse. The plotline is intriguing and realistic and the themes are explored wonderfully. The sex scenes are relatively descriptive but more importantly, they're accurate, realistic and the author emphasises how important safe sex is. There's plenty of depth to be found in this book if you give it a chance :)(less)
Tiana Jayne There is a few times when sex is described. Im 14 (It doesn't bother me that much) and didn't have much of a issue with it, I did jump forward paragra…moreThere is a few times when sex is described. Im 14 (It doesn't bother me that much) and didn't have much of a issue with it, I did jump forward paragraphs a couple times. I'd say 15 but depends of you, I do recommend it though!!(less)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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 ·  3,049 ratings  ·  460 reviews

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Emily (emilykatereads)
I will find all of the queer YA books, and I will read them all. (22/06/16)

Review (23/02/17):
I really want to give this book more than 3 stars but I just can't. There were a bunch of really awesome aspects about this book that made it great, but the characters were so damn annoying that it made the awesome aspects harder to enjoy. I get that the main character is 15, but come on, there doesn't need to be that much drama. Everyone was just lying to each other and causing so much petty drama.

Emma Giordano
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I absolutely adored this book! I honestly don't even know where to start. This was such a lovely, heart-warming, emotional read. I would highly highly recommend it! I was super excited to read a new own-voices LGBTQIAP+ novel, and I was not disappointed. I'll have a more in-depth spoiler-free review on my channel soon!

As this is an LGBTQIAP+ novel featuring a relationship between two bisexual g
April (Aprilius Maximus)
This books definitely has a lot of pros, but unfortunately there were an equal amount of cons for me. The diversity in Our Own Private Universe was ON POINT. The main character is a person of colour and is bisexual, there are other bisexuals in the book (and one that thinks she might be pansexual), an out-and-proud lesbian, and the book takes place in Mexico so there are minor latinx characters as well. I love the fact that it's not only diverse, but the characters in the book explore important ...more
This book touches on so many poignant and relevant topics. It gives adequate thought and conversation to each topic without bogging down the plot or taking away from other elements.
I loved Aki and her journey through this story, I came to truly care for her and surprised myself when tears sprang to my eyes toward the end. I especially adored her relationship with her father and brother, I love when YA books expand on family dynamics.
The only thing I could have done with less of was the teenage g
Alyssa Krasnansky
Our Own Private Universe is the story of Aki, a bi black teenager on a mission trip to Mexico with her church. She makes a deal with her friend Lori to try to have a summer fling while they are in Mexico, which is how she gets involved with Christa, a girl from another church. They hit things off, but anxieties about coming out, rumors, and white lies get in the way of their relationship. Our Own Private Universe is at its best in the second half of the story; the gang puts together a debate on ...more
Emer (A Little Haze)
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of cute contemporary YA
This book is just the cutest thing I have read in forever. EXACTLY what I want from my contemporary YA reads and extra brownie points for promoting diversity in such an awesome fashion.
Also look how cute this cover is: Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley
Nice to see a YA book with an image of two girls openly sharing an intimate moment rather than the traditionally safe hand holding.

The main focus of the novel is on teenager Aki who, like pretty much anyone at that age, is trying to figure out her way in the world. She knows
I wanted to love this book. I love the cover and I was excited to read a love story between girls. Sadly I was a bit disappointed and since I'm not sure how to break it down, I'll do bullet points.

What I loved:

•A girl/girl romance. Aki and Christa have some very sweet moments together.

• Sex was talked about openly between them and safe sex was researched and in the moment.

•Sexuality and the characters struggling to figure out what they identified with: being bi or straight or gay or pan. There w
Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries)
See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC that unexpectedly showed up in the mail.
Diversity: 4 – This Is Our World
3 (Aki and her brother are biracial, as is Aunt Miranda; lots of Mexican characters in the background)
QUILTBAG: 5 (three bisexual characters, an out-and-proud lesbian, use of the more inclusive LGBTQIA acronym, and the book is basically Forever… for queer girls)
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 4 (really engages with the difficulties of being a queer g
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: personal-library
5/5 stars

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 a
DNF @ 7% (no rating because I didn't read enough of it and I don't want to be unfair)

I am slightly pissed off. I wanted to read something sweet and lighthearted but I guess I'll never know if this book fits those expectations because I couldn't get over how childish the interactions were (I know the MC is 15 but......), plus the instalove at 5% (five! percent!) and the obviously blown-up drama-for-the-sake-of-the-drama made it impossible for me to continue reading this book. I even tried putting
This book was full of issues and I'm still trying to figure out how to properly express my concerns with this work, while respecting the author's right to tell a story in her own way. I will say that a few instances in this book hurt my feelings and angered me a bit. But I'm trying to process a bit more. I WILL be filming a video on this book later. ...more
A copy of this novel was provided by Harlequin Teen Australia for review.

Six things to know about Our Own Private Universe:

1) Aki is a bisexual girl of colour.

Which is AWESOME. We need more intersectional diversity in YA, so it was great to see this rep on the page. However, Our Own Private Universe was written by a white woman, so it’s not ownvoices, and I also feel like it didn’t really capture the nuances of being a black girl in a church full of white people, or the microaggressions that POC
Ellyn   → Allonsythornraxx
Just got an ARC, hoping this will get me out of my reading slump.

Good start, boring middle to end, cool debate

rtc I guess
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As soon as I read the synopsis for this book, I knew I would love it. LGBTQ+ romances are some of my favorite books to read, but most of the main characters in the ones I have read are gay or lesbian-I have rarely had the privilege of reading about a main character who identifies as bisexual, like I do.* The bisexual community is extremely underrepresented in literature, so I really appreciate Robin Talley writing Our Own Private Universe. One of the things that I always look for and always love ...more
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

This book was really slow for me, and it just didn't hold my interest throughout. However, I did still enjoy bits of it, and I definitely think it's an important story with important morals, especially for teens coming to terms with their sexuality.

Full review to come on my blog:
Paradise Lost
Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: f-f
Robin Talley has this way of bringing serious issues to light in an extremely light, and more importantly, hopeful manner.

You see the world for all its flaws, how our society has shaped and conditioned us into being the people we are - it's not about right or wrong or good or bad. It's a truth - our external influences, be they religious, societal, familial, etc., have a huge impact on our perception of how we see and define the world.

Robin Talley always takes that into account, and shes not u
One of the best-written contemporary LBGTQ YA books I've read. It's funny, warm, current in the issues it talks about, and, for a book full of liars, it's refreshingly honest.

'Our Own Private Universe' follows the story of Aki Simon, an American preacher's kid who, whilst volunteering in a church charity group in Mexico, has a summer fling with Christa Lawrence, as part of her many theories she wants to finally try out. This theory has to do with her bisexuality, and she puts this identity, her
Kirsty Hanson
This one of my most anticipated releases for the entirety of 2017. After reading Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley, I was eager to get my hands on her new book: Our Own Private Universe. I was excited because I read that this book was about a bisexual, POC, fifteen-year-old, who goes to Mexico with the church. So already, there's a lot going on here: we have a black girl, a bisexual protagonist who wants to explore her sexuality and it's set in Mexico where there are religious aspects to it ...more
Sofii♡ (A Book. A Thought.)

DFN and disappointed


Actually my expectations were high when I started with this book, so I think that may have influenced how I felt.

Let's say that this one is just not for me,I liked it at first and then it just got worse and worse.
Most of the characters have made me feel quite uncomfortable, their attitudes are incomprehensible and most of the time I don't know where they want to go with their behaviors.

Too much drama unnecessary! I understand that there must be, is what makes the story a litt
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice, light and optimistic read.
- ̗̀  jess  ̖́-
In my opinion, Our Own Private Universe is Robin Talley's best since Lies We Tell Ourselves. I'm really glad there's another book in the YA canon that discusses faith and sexuality, and I think Talley did a good job of incorporating modern day political issues into the plot.

I really liked Aki as a character. She was determined and intelligent and well-rounded. Her love of music and subsequent fallout from her quitting music played into the plot a bit less than I would have liked. At times I for
i want to like this book, i want to like robin talley, but i just don't. Aki and Christa and Lori are obnoxious. they're not unlikeable... they're not likeable... they just are. none of them have much personality but they do a lot of stupid, annoying stuff. yes, teenagers lie, but how do you have two characters in the book not just lying but completely fabricating stories about some pretty big things?

then Aki thinks she's Special because she likes Prince, who, of course, no other teenagers have
rebeccca elane (pistachiobooks)
 This book made me so unbelievably mad. I was hoping to get my first one-star book in February but guess it has to be my third book of the year, love that for me. I buddy read this as part of a queer book group on twitter, I have no idea what the others thought but I hope they enjoyed it more than me. I was taking notes as I read this, all of them were negative. A part of me doesn't want to spend time even reviewing this book, but I need to yell about it otherwise I'm going to explode. 

There wer
J. Taylor
A cute, sweet story that I throughly enjoyed.
Sarah Lillian Books
Added after: I have recently read some negative reviews on this book and opened my eyes to problematic representation in almost all aspects of the book. Because of this I changed my rating, I still love the book, and I wish I read it when in high school in grades 9 or 10. As someone who is new to writing reviews, I'm still learning to be critical of what I read and I appreciate when I read different opinions. I will leave my original review after listing problems other reviewers discussed.

Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disclaimer: I was sent this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

This is the first book that I've ever read with a bi/PoC main character and it's absolutely amazing! This book was so touching and it really gave me a better perspective on a bunch of relevant topics in the LGBTQ community & more. The author managed to argue a bunch of points through her characters without negatively affecting the plot or characters (which was amazing!).

I really connected with Aki and her struggles
Lauren James
Apr 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtqia
I was sent a copy of this to review a while ago, and I haven't been able to get into it. I've tried three or four times but it just hasn't stuck. I think I've worked out why - it's because the main character is more of a plot device than a character.

She's extremely naive, which is used to educate the reader on a whole range of political, ethical and moral subjects. That may be useful, but it doesn't make an enjoyable reading experience.
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The only thing that saved this from being a one star review, was the emphasis on safe sex.
Maddie's review sums up all my other thoughts perfectly, so check that out here
I received an ARC through NetGalley.

I was nervous going into Our Own Private Universe, because my introduction to this author was kind of a disaster. But I am so glad that I decided to give her another chance! Aki has just realized that she’s bisexual and the only person who knows is her BFF, Lori. The girls are on a trip with their youth group and two others to Mexico, when they form a pact. They’re going to have summer flings! Aki already has her eyes on Christa, but that pact gives her the ex
“If I wanted to have an interesting life - which I did - then there was no point sitting around debating everything in my head on a constant loop. If I wanted my life to change, then I had to do something. Or at least try.”

This was okay, but definitely not more than that. It just wasn't that well written, the characters were kinda the worst (and not at all like they would be 15?!) and it was at least 80 pages too long. I also felt like the author tried too hard to make the book deeper than it wa
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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 http://www.

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