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Music from Another World

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A master of award-winning queer historical fiction, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley brings to life 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.

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.


384 pages, Hardcover

First published March 31, 2020

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About the author

Robin Talley

13 books1,472 followers
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.robintalley.com, and I'm on Twitter and Tumblr.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 429 reviews
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
April 18, 2020
Music from Another World , Robin Talley's new book, is a poignant look at sexuality, identity, courage, and music, set against the struggle for gay rights in the 1970s.

“There’s no point worrying so hard you can’t breathe. Life’s short, and you’ve got to make sure there’s time to live it.”

Sharon and Tammy are paired up as pen pals for a program implemented at religious schools across the state of California. Sharon attends Catholic school in San Francisco; Tammy attends a Christian school in Orange County, where her aunt and uncle run a church that is very active in helping Anita Bryant try to legalize discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Tammy is a lesbian, a secret she has only confessed to her diary, in letters she writes to Harvey Milk, the only gay person she knows of. Sharon, too, has a secret: her brother Peter is gay, and is becoming more and more involved in the fight for gay rights.

Sharon and Tammy begin writing to one another, and little by little, they start depending on this one connection to someone outside of their constricting circle of life. They begin to trust one another with their secrets, their fears, and their wishes, which serve as comfort and in some ways, an added source of stress.

As Tammy deals with her family’s increased fervor to strip gays and lesbians of their rights, Sharon starts to get involved with a women’s bookstore outside the Castro, and begins exploring an interest in punk and new wave music.

When things come to a head in Tammy’s life, everything changes. Suddenly Sharon isn’t sure who she is or what she wants, and she knows she’s both tired of keeping secrets and yet scared of what revealing or accepting those secrets could do.

This is a powerful book that is very well-researched and authentic to the time in which it is set. It’s definitely well-written, moving, and emotional but I found the family melodrama a bit excessive, and Sharon’s constant indecisiveness wore me down after a while.

I’m grateful to have been part of the blog tour for this book. Inkyard Press and NetGalley provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html.

Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian.
1,134 reviews1,396 followers
July 18, 2020
This queer historical YA was good, but not great. It's the kind of book I'd recommend to younger LGBTQ teen readers especially, but not to adults who read YA. The characters aren't especially dynamic and while there are some interesting historical details, I didn't feel like the period (late 1970s) really permeated the book. The dialogue, for example, was no different than you might see in a contemporary YA and there were a few times when I was like, uh, did teens in the 70s say that?? And the epsitolary format was stretched very far into unbelievable territory. But I appreciate the topic of queer history in a book for teen audiences and the well done bisexual representation.
Profile Image for Kristy.
1,027 reviews143 followers
March 30, 2020
This completely amazing book tells the story of two teen pen pals in 1977, one of whom, Tammy, is a closeted lesbian. Tammy and Sharon, who lives in San Francisco, are matched through the California Pen Pal Project. Each attend strict religious schools, where the idea of being lesbian is an utter and complete sin. The story is told entirely through their letters, Sharon's diary entries, and Tammy's diary, which takes the form of letters to gay rights activist Harvey Milk. The two have their religious teachings to guide them, but Sharon is dealing with learning that her brother, Peter, is gay, and Tammy, of course, is working out her feelings about her sexuality. Through their letters, the two find a friendship and honesty they have no where else, especially as the anti-gay movement in America becomes stronger and stronger .

This story is powerful and beautiful. I can’t think of a better book for these difficult days. I completely fell in love with Tammy and Sharon and their complicated, real lives. It took me a moment to adjust to the format of the book, which, as mentioned is told entirely in epistolary form. Once I did, I was off and running and never looked back.

"I've never fit. Not at school. Not at church. Not anywhere, really." ~Sharon

This is historical YA fiction at its absolute best--Talley's story is heartbreaking and touching. Reading about Tammy and Sharon, you realize that we've come a long way in terms of gay rights, yet it hurts knowing so many kids still feel as lost and scared as Tammy when coming out. The book has a terrifying relevance in these divided times. (For instance, Tammy's religious zealot aunt and her powerful anti-gay church--plop them in 2020 and we're off and running.)

"I'm getting out of this place, Harvey. Even if I only manage to do it in my head." ~Tammy

Watching Tammy and Sharon's friendship form over their letters is amazing; somehow Talley conveys so much through that format. These two come to life before our very eyes, and we become completely invested in these two vulnerable yet utterly strong and amazing young women. Their story is hopeful and heartbreaking and touches on religion and gay rights in such powerful ways. I found it to be timely, complex, and incredibly wonderful. We need more books like this in the world, and Tammy and Sharon will stay with me for quite some time.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Inkyard Press in return for an unbiased review. This book is available 3/31 and you can visit my blog to be a part of the blog tour for this wonderful title!

Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ PaperBackSwap ~ Smashbomb

Profile Image for cameron.
145 reviews705 followers
August 12, 2021
WOWW this was so fun. you might just read the summary and think it’s another hard coming out in a religious family story but i promise it’s so much more. so much culture is woven into this, and it ends with queer joy. it’s important to keep queer history in the spotlight but we often only get these stories told from male pov and it was so refreshing to read it from teen lesbian & bisexual girls and truly made me feel more connected with our past. i will say i have this very specific reading tick where i do not tend to ljke books told totally in diary entries / letters where the plot is just being recounted rather then actually lived, i tend to think they would be more powerful if told in the moment, but that’s just like a very specific preference . so that’s why it’s probably 4 stars versus 5. but seriously i want everyone to read this; especially young lesbians who have never seen themselves represented in our history.
Profile Image for Leo.
4,311 reviews390 followers
February 16, 2022
This was a great queer historical fiction that I was so glad I finally picked up after having it on my tbr for a while. Maybe not that long but felt to long. Even though I really enjoyed the audiobook I completely forgot to review and document the book but I blame my head space for that
Profile Image for Ivana - Diary of Difference.
560 reviews710 followers
February 13, 2022
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Music From Another World is a powerful and emotional read, about fighting for freedom and acceptance and the amazing feeling when you finally find a crowd where you can really fit in!


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 ultra religious aunt relentlessly organizes anti gay political campaigns. Tammy’s only outlet is writing secret letters in her diary to gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk… until she has a real-life pen pal who changes everything.

Sharon Hawkins will bond 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. But as anti gay 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.

My Thoughts: 

From the very first moment I read the synopsis, I knew I needed to read this book. It seemed filled with 1970's spirit, the movement to be brave and honest. The discussions in this book are through the form of letters or diary entries, which I really enjoyed. This writing style helped me get through the book extremely quickly. 

We get to meet the two girls, Tammy and Sharon, both very different, but both struggling with the same issues of being contained in a world where they cannot be themselves. And even though this particular book is about the LGBTQ+ community, I believe this issue also applies to anything else in life, where people feel like they cannot be who they really are. Sometimes it is religion, other times it is political opinions, it could even be different hobbies where the person feels needs to contain in themselves because of the fear they might be frowned upon or laughed at.

It is amazing to see how the world has progressed over the years, where people start feeling like they can finally express who they really are. It is not yet ideal, but I have a good feeling we are getting there. There is also the very powerful force of the internet, the advantage people didn't have before, to find people across the globe that share the same beliefs and interests. 

Music From Another World really moved me, and it brought up various emotions. It talks about the struggles and the reprimands, but it also talks about real happiness and laughter. The amazing feeling when you finally find a crowd that accepts you and where you truly belong. I believe this is the first book with a plot that made me feel so happy, so sad and so angry at the same time. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the HQ Team, for sending me an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Iris.
550 reviews253 followers
August 31, 2020
I received an ARC from NetGalley and Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 stars

I truly do not have the words to describe how utterly fantastic this book was. It just . . . wow. WOW. Wow a million times. I adored this book with my entire heart, and I want to go back and read it again from the start. I stayed up til three in the morning reading this, and had tears streaming down my face by the end. (good tears. despite the dark tone, this book is ultimately hopeful)

I don't even know where to start when it comes to reviewing this book. It was so rich with emotions, and so real, and so beautiful. It's not by any means a light or easy book to read: it deals very heavily with homophobia and religion. But the way it handles it is so, so thoughtful and powerful.

The writing was so compelling, I found myself sucked so completely into the story. I don't usually love epistolary novels, but it worked so well in this context, and it really gave the characters' voices a chance to shine through.

Speaking of the characters! They were absolutely wonderful. Each and every one of them was so fleshed out, and I just felt all the feels over them.

- Tammy: Tammy's character . . . holy fuck y'all. I loved seeing how she grew from this scared ashamed closeted gay kid to this really badass girl who was PROUD of her sexuality. It was such a hopeful storyline. And I absolutely loved how it showed her feeling so passionately that her identity wasn't wrong, but still being too scared to fight. It really showed the complexity of her character, and of the queer experience.

- Sharon: Sharon was . . . a complex character. I honestly really hated her at first, but as the book progressed I realized that was because I saw so much of myself in her. (catch me regretting admitting to that later hfghhjhkgfhg) She was incredibly flawed, but her flaws were't overlooked. And she grew into such an incredible person. (<< tagged for slight spoilers depending on your definition)

- The side characters: the side characters were so wonderfully fleshed out! I especially loved Sharon's brother and the girls at the bookstore, but every single one of the side characters felt like a living breathing person, and it was masterful.

Overall? Read! this! book! It is such a gorgeous work of art, and I was absolutely entranced. Please do your eyeballs a favour and read it.

Profile Image for Keelin Rita.
354 reviews23 followers
November 10, 2022
I will never stop loving and crying over Robin Talley’s books. Music From Another World is another edition to her works of queer historical fiction. Here’s why I loved it so much: Two girls from two separate parts of California, both from religious families, both going to a catholic school, both have secrets. Sharon’s brother is gay, and Tammy is a lesbian. Both of these secrets could put an end to their lives. The story is told through letters and journal entries. Tammy and Sharon are put together through a school summer pen pal project and become best friends, confiding in each other, feeling at home with each other, bonding over punk music and Patti Smith. Meanwhile, Tammy is also writing letters to Harvey Milk, she never sends them, but they are so necessary for her because he is an openly gay man fighting for gay rights in her state. Sharon uses her diary, a way to chronicle her life without fear of someone else having to know exactly what is going on in her head. This story is at once heartbreaking and uplifting and I believe that’s what Talley tries to do in all of her books. She’s acknowledging the realities of being in the time, bringing those fears and issues to the forefront so the reader can understand just how daring and brave these characters are, and then she allows us what most real life stories at that time don’t, a happy ending. I loved this book, and I will keep reading Robin Talley because she keeps the history of queer people and their hope alive.
Profile Image for Nev.
1,058 reviews140 followers
April 3, 2020
4.5 - Queer girls! Queer history! 1970s! Punk rock!! This just incorporated so many things that I love reading about. Tammy and Sharon live in different parts of California but are paired up as pen pals for a school assignment. They’re supposed to ask some basic questions to get to know one another. But their letters end up blossoming into a deep friendship. However, they haven’t told each other the full truth yet. Tammy is a closeted lesbian in an extremely religious family and Sharon is learning about the gay community in San Francisco through her brother Peter. What will happen when they truly open up to one another?

AAAHHHHHHHH. I just enjoyed this so much. Especially how much actual queer history was incorporated. The characters are trying to help get Harvey Milk elected, are watching Anita Bryant be a homophobic twat, and campaign against Prop 6 which was trying to get queer teachers banned from public schools. I’ve read about these events in non-fiction, so it was amazing to see this history incorporated into a YA novel. Also yesssssss to these girls finding solace in punk rock and enjoying the anger in the music.

Because of the time period there are some rough things that happen. Homophobia, especially faith-based homophobia is extremely prevalent. However, I think this is a mostly hopeful book. The characters find community, grow into themselves, and fight for their rights. Although some bad things do happen, this isn’t a tragic book. No spoilers, but it ends on a high note.

My only real complaint is that I wish the sections of the book that weren’t the letters between Tammy and Sharon weren’t diary entries, just a traditional narrative. The letters between the girls worked so well. But it just kept taking me out of the story that their diary entries were so long and had so much dialogue in them. It just didn’t seem believable.

Overall I think this is a spectacular book. I definitely recommend checking it out.
Profile Image for laurel [the suspected bibliophile].
1,421 reviews393 followers
May 30, 2020
It's the summer of 1977 and a resurgence of conservatism is thrumming through the United States. Closeted lesbian Tammy has been caught up in the middle of it—her aunt and uncle are two of the ringleaders of the West Baptist Church advocating for a return to family values and an eradication of gay people from schools (and well, life). When she's assigned Sharon from San Francisco as a pen pal for a school assignment, it's like a dream come true. The two bond over punk music, and slowly begin to realize that eventually they'll need to take a stand. For something.

While this was enjoyable—and the audiobook was incredible—it sagged so heavily in the middle. Seriously, the middle took forever, and the epistolary format became a little hard to endure, mostly because there was a lot of detail and word for word interactions in the form of letters.

However, the premise was fantastic, and Talley shines in her research in gay history and putting people into the context of their era. I loved reading about the late 70s, admittedly a period of time that I um, hardly ever read about, and I loved all of the gay history that was put in, from Harvey Milk to anti-gay rights activist whats-her-face Anita Bryant to punk rock to Prop 6 to all of the marches and the beginning of Pride and the very real fear of what would happen if you were outed.

Of the two girls, I liked Sharon the best, mainly because I emphasized with her realization of her sexual orientation. I have a feeling that this book might have faced or will face some backlash from Sharon's (mild spoiler ahead) realization that she is bisexual, particularly since she spends most of the book dead set on the fact that she's straight. She's got a boyfriend. She likes boys. Sure some girls are really fascinating, but that doesn't make her gay because she likes boys and you can't be a lesbian if you like boys. Imagine growing up in a time where you didn't have the language or understanding that you can like men and women (and enbies too) together.

Also, both girls deal with the crushing stigma of being different and having to conform to society's expectation for how girls and women should behave.

As a girl living in conservative Orange County, within a highly religious family, Tammy has to conform in order to survive and stay under her asshole aunt's radar. She must bury everything true to herself down and become a model of Christian society in order to survive. She has little leeway to be herself, and when she gets a taste of freedom, she leaps for it in the form of Caroline, a girl who is attracted to her and just fooling around (also: fuck you Caroline. I get why you did what you did, but fuck you all the same).

And as a girl living in a single-parent home alongside a mother who is kinda checked out, Sharon has to hide her brother's sexual orientation. While Sharon has more leeway than Tammy, she also has to conform to expectations in the form of what her peers think of her in order to avoid high school hell. Her freedom is more pronounced, and I liked that she was able to grab a hold of her independence in bits and chunks, and how she slowly began to educate herself on how to be an ally to the gay community: first through her love of punk music (although how many times can you say someone growled into a microphone wtf), particularly girl bands, and then through a group of gay rights advocates working at a collectively owned feminist bookstore.

As the two correspond, they slowly begin to open up, although their secrets (Tammy's gayness and Sharon's brother's gayness) start to become a barrier to their friendship. As the real world closes in around them, they fall apart—and then come back together.

And come together again as Tammy's world falls apart.

Anywho, I'm not going to give any more spoilers than that, but I will just say that while I liked the resolution at the end of the book, I was a bit miffed at how everything went down. The final stand was lukewarm, to be honest, and I kinda just wanted either girl to just fucking stand up for herself. Granted, the point of the book was the power adults in power have over children, and the long-reaching arm of authority in the form of a charismatic religious leader.

One to check out if you're interested in the gay rights movement of the late 70s, seriously slow burn sapphic romance, coming out and coming of age stories, and epistolary stories.

It would easily have been a five-star read if it had been edited more heavily. It did not need to be 384 (it felt like 500) pages long. Seriously, that middle section draggggggggs.
Profile Image for Jamie.
169 reviews54 followers
April 6, 2021
This was a re-read. And since I read it the first time before I started writing reviews I figured I should drop one now.

I really love this book. I love everything about it. And I like it just as much the second read.

From the setting in the late 1970s we get to explore queer history in America happening as the Harvey Milk campaigns and Anita Bryant's crusade against gay rights is featured heavily. I've studied a lot of LGBT history in my own time so seeing it played out through this format was really cool. I'd love to see more late 20th Century queer period pieces. I get why that can be hard though especially dealing with the 1980s.

We also get to see a lot of early punk bands be featured, and that has a warm place in my heart as well.

I really love the characters as well. Tammy and Sharon are both rich and complex people who have so much going for them and so much to lose. I just wanted to cry for Tammy with everything happening in her life with her family. Anyone that has had to stay closeted around deeply religious family will be able to latch on to her instantly. And Sharon is so wonderful too. I love how she will drop everything to support not just Tammy, but her brother too. And watching her come into her own is heartwarming.

The format of this book is really interesting too and kept me very intrigued. This book tells its story by switching between letters written by Tammy and Sharon to each other as well as seeing their diary entries into what they are thinking. I really enjoyed this format as you could see the differences between how they communicate to each other versus just themselves. And also you get to see them start to open up to each other slowly and learn to trust each other more and more.

This is more of a character driven story than a plotted book, exploring the lives and thoughts of Tammy and Sharon, but there are some major events depicted in the book along the course of their lives.

I think this book is wonderful. I loved every second of it. Other books by Robin Talley have been hit or miss to me but this is great. I loved it. 5/5
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,568 reviews259 followers
March 16, 2020
I received an ARC from NetGalley and Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review.

Music from Another World by Robin Talley is one of the best books I've had the opportunity to read so far in 2020. It's an engrossing epistolary YA LGBTQ+ historical fiction story told primarily in a series of letters and diary entries between pen pals and personal entries written to Harvey Milk. The journeys that both Tammy and Sharon take are both powerful and heartbreaking. I have to admit that it's crushing to know the real life fate of Harvey Milk, especially with how much he means to the people of the San Francisco LGBTQ+ community as well as our leading cast. It's quite easy to become attached to Talley's cast of characters because they're all so well developed. I don't know about you, but I need more historical LGBTQ+ stories in my life, especially more recent history like this. I'm also going to have to read more of Robin Talley's works in the future.
Profile Image for theresa.
294 reviews4,314 followers
November 12, 2020
A story of two girls told through letters and diary entries. Tammy and Sharon are both involved in the gay rights movement gaining traction in California in the late 70s. Tammy, a closeted lesbian living with a conservative Christian family in Orange County and being forced to protest her own right to exist and Sharon, whose brother’s sexuality makes her question the Catholic beliefs she’s surrounded by and leads her into the feminist and punk scenes of San Francisco. When they’re matched as pen pals for a school project they each find a friendship and connection unlike anything they’ve ever felt before.

My thoughts:
This book had me angry, had me in tears, had me loving and loathing the characters before I was even 10% in. Reading especially Tammy’s letters to Harvey Milk (which were used more as a diary than actual letters) was just so powerful and raw and I knew this was going to be amazing from that alone.

Our main characters, Tammy and Sharon, both felt so real and three dimensional, as if I was reading actual preserved letters. This epistolary format was very effective and led to me feeling very connected to them and their relationship. Tammy’s diary being addressed to Harvey Milk, a prominent gay politician in California at the time, was also very effective and I think made her letters seem even more real and honest than a diary entry. This is the first book I’ve read that explores LGBTQ+ history and I didn’t realise how much it would affect me, reading about people like me and their hardships not all that long ago really hit home and has made me even more interested in the topic. Additionally, seeing the word ‘lesbian’ used loudly and proudly in this book made me so happy; it’s definitely not something I see often enough.

This book tackles some really hard topics and characters are often left feeling let down or even detested by the people and world around them. There was so much hatred towards gay people at the time this book’s set, it was overt and even celebrated by people like Tammy’s Aunt Mandy. Robin Talley doesn’t shy away from showing this, but hatred is not what defines this book. It is incredibly uplifting and hopeful; we see the resilience of the gay rights movement and the determination to create a better, more accepting world.

My only complaint with this book would be that it felt a bit slow and dragging in the middle at times. It felt a bit like nothing was really happening for a while and while it wasn’t boring, it certainly wasn’t as strong as the beginning and ending of the book.

Overall, I really enjoyed this. I worried that the hard themes it discusses would make it more difficult to enjoy and while certain scenes were hard to read, the hopeful narrative really outweighed the darkness of the time. I’ll definitely be picking up more of Robin Talley’s books and more LGBTQ+ historical fiction.

I also talk about books here: youtube | instagram | twitter

*eARC received in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley*
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,767 reviews651 followers
May 17, 2020
Since Pulp was one of my favourite books of 2019, I started this audiobook as soon as I could. And wow. She just did it again.

This was hard to read at times, because it deals with a lot of homophobia, but it's also such an important read. There's something so very special about reading about LGBTQ+ history.

The characters were incredibly loveable as well, and I loved how all of them has a really different experience being queer.

I'm not in the mood to write a long review, but I couldn't recommend this enough!

Rep: lesbian MC, questioning bisexual MC, gay side character
Profile Image for Devann.
2,434 reviews134 followers
April 5, 2020
I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley

Really liked this one! I'm always a bit afraid of reading LGBTQ books set in this time period because there's always the chance that something Really Bad is going to happen that I don't want to deal with as a reader, but I have enjoyed other books by Talley so I decided to give it a shot. This one reminded me a lot of 'Ziggy, Stardust and Me' both in terms of it being an LGBTQ YA book set in roughly the same time period but also because it deals with homophobia of the time in a way that makes it clear that the characters are facing struggles but in my opinion doesn't take it 'too far' into something that would be triggering and ruin the reader's experience of enjoying the book. I also liked how the book dealt with issues of race at the time and the different experience of gay men and lesbian women and bisexual people. Overall it was a really great book with a very cute ending. Would definitely recommend!
March 30, 2020
A lot of the thoughts and struggles of the young characters are likely something any teen could relate to. There’s a more specific subset whom I think would relate to their core which is incredibly important. That being said, I really like this book explored the struggles of teenagers in a way that, if I were still that age, would make me feel less alone.

I admired the strength of the young men and women in this book as well. It’s hard to not live up to your parent’s expectations so I can’t even imagine how hard it must be to not live up to the expectations of society. A really empowering and important read!
Profile Image for Anna Avian.
426 reviews54 followers
August 1, 2022
2.5* rounded up
A nice coming of age story for the LGBTQ teen audiences. The epistolary format was nice at the beginning but later felt rather slow and unnecessary. I also would have appreciated more historical details in order to really feel the 70s vibe.
Profile Image for Amber.
630 reviews26 followers
July 11, 2020
I really enjoyed this story! There were some historical elements in here that really taught me more about the 70s Gay rights movement in California. This was a great story about friendship, acceptance, and learning more about yourself. I am also a big fan of seeing religion and queer intersectionality in books, so this was right up my alley. I think it was handled very well, especially considering the time period, however religion was handled a little more antagonistically.

The only gripe I had with this is the way it was written. It was told through letters from one MC to another but really didn’t feel like any letter I would write. Instead, it felt more like a first person narrative. This would throw me off now and then. Other than that I was thoroughly engaged and finished this in a single day.
Profile Image for Sally.
138 reviews1 follower
November 16, 2019
Part of me wishes I had had Robin Talley’s books when I was a teenager and part of me is just so thankful I have them now. Even at 33, I still need queer stories like this. I love this book almost as much as I love Patti Smith and that’s saying something. 💖 Can’t wait for the release date in March! Thanks to Netgalley for the arc!
Profile Image for Eva B..
1,227 reviews313 followers
June 26, 2021
This is a difficult book to review.
Queer historical fiction, in my opinion, is among the most important subgenres since it a) shows that we have always been here and that erasing us was a conscious effort and b) showcases the queer experience throughout history. It's important not to shy away from the horrible things that have happened to us throughout time, but at the same time...this was just so miserable to read. Which is honestly a compliment to Robin Talley, because she made the homophobia realistic enough that I almost dnf'd the book at some points. It's a very good story that tells the tale of two pen-pals in 1977/8 California, but a very difficult read as well.
Profile Image for Sophie.
142 reviews57 followers
February 4, 2022
another new favourite :)

> told in letters/diary entries
> ya wlw romance (mc’s are 15/16/17)
> set in 1977/1978
> about tammy, a closeted lesbian from a super conservative/christian family and sharon, a (seemingly😌) straight girl becoming pen pals… they bond over music, shared experiences and anger at the world
> i say dont go into this expecting it to be reeeaally romancey - it’s v v slow burn. i enjoyed the romance in this (v sweet) but it’s definitely more about the characters’ individual journeys

just bloody loved this :) (pls dont judge this book by its cover xoxoxoxo)
Profile Image for Paradise Lost.
101 reviews14 followers
May 5, 2020
I'm currently reading a lot of fanfiction, so haven't gotten around to reading many books this year, but when I saw that Robin Talley's books was out, I had to read it.

There's always something so relevant about the stories she tells. Whether they be about the pulp novel era, black rights, or the Harvey milk time period.

"All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come." - Victor Hugo

Thank you Robin talley for always getting me to think. And even more, for getting me to believe, to hope.
Profile Image for Iris.
312 reviews318 followers
June 25, 2020
Solid three star read! This book would be great for middle school to early high school baby dyke that wants to learn a little about gay history. It is VERY white, but it’s also set on opposing sides of prop 6, so you get this Christian vs. Castro and Harvey Milk aspect to the story that is really nice to have in young adult.

Very wholesome.
Very gay and bi!
Profile Image for Hâf.
389 reviews40 followers
June 18, 2020
Music From Another World is written in the form of hesitant letters and confessional diary entries and I loved every page! Mention good old snail mail and I am there, I adore writing and receiving letters so a book featuring letters heavily is something I will always love reading. Closeted lesbian Tammy is paired up with Sharon in a pen pal scheme between two Christian schools, what begins as a forced school assignment turns into a lifeline for both girls to share their true selves with each other without fear of judgment or retribution. Thi was such a beautiful story about two queer girls finding their space in the world where they could love whoever they wanted to.
Robin Talley has created two strong, individual main characters with a passion for life and equality, I really enjoyed learning about a small part of LGBTQ+ history in America alongside Tammy and Sharon as they played their parts in the protests and campaigns. The foundation of the love story in this novel starts off as a tentative friendship between pen pals, there's disagreements, misunderstandings, heartbreak and heart warming scenes, all adding up to create a wonderful romance between two queer girls. Tammy is a closeted lesbian due to living with a very religious and homophobic family whereas Sharon's sexual identity is a lot more of a journey throughout the book as she questions her feelings for both boys and eventually, Tammy. To balance out the homophobic characters there's also a whole load of supportive queer side characters who help organise protests to campaign for LGBTQ people's rights.
Queer historical fiction is definitely a new type of novel for me, but they blend two of my favourite things together, queer characters and historical events. I find history fascinating and I'll never know enough to sate my hunger for knowledge. I haven't read anything by Robin Talley prior to reading Music From Another World so to see the author described as a master of award winning queer historical fiction makes me desperate to read every other book this author has written! Music From Another World blew me away, I switched between the audio and the eBook and the dual narratives told by two narrators over audio was amazing, it clearly defined the two main characters. I would hugely recommend this book to anyone who wants to read more queer fiction as it is brilliant!
Profile Image for Izzie.
585 reviews111 followers
April 13, 2020
(Thanks to my Mum for typing this up for me).
This book follows 2 main characters, Tammy and Sharon, living in California in 1977. The book is told in an epistolary format after Tammy and Sharon are paired up as pen pals. It follows the girls as they open up to each other and their struggles with their faith, family and sexuality.
What I Liked:
- Characters. Tammy and Sharon were strong main characters who felt like real people, I think the form of letters and diary entries made me feel connected to the characters and like I really understood them. The supporting cast were varied, Tammy's family who were religious and homophobic, the wonderful women they met in the book shop and Sharon's brother who supported her throughout.
- Themes. This book explores a number of different subjects including religious homophobia, gay rights movement, prop 6, friendship, family and finding where you belong. I think it navigated the discussion about what it meant to be part of the LGBT community in the 1970's and the difficulties they had in trusting other people and the rejection from their families.
- History. I really enjoyed learning more about the LGBT community in the 1970's.
- Romance. Tihs is the first book in a while that had me rooting for the characters to get together, I enjoyed the development of Tammy and Sharon's relationship as it was built on trust and friendship.
Overall this was a moving, heartbreaking and heart-warming story about finding love, friendship and community. It was both an interesting and complex read which was well written and perfectly executed. I am so glad to have finally given Robin Talley 5 stars for one of her books.
TW: homophobia, religious homophobia, family rejection, and use of slurs
Profile Image for kelly {BookCrushin}.
746 reviews266 followers
June 18, 2020
Another beautiful historical novel set during such important time in LGBTQIA+ history. This one is told epistolary with letters between two Christian girls who are penpals for a school project in California who both are entwined in the rise of Harvey Milk and the christian attacks on the gay community. Especially loved the incorporation of how important punk rock and bookstores and community centers were so important in building a resistance. This one has some tough topics, including abandonment, homophobia, forced coming-out, and christian fueled hate, but it really does have a positive story and a very happy ending.
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