CW: racism, sexism, internalized homophobia, and child abuse
Robin Talley is definitely a new favorite author for me!!
Ugh, this book. I really enjoyed it (as you can tell by my rating) but I want to start it off with this: I don’t think this book would go over as well if it was published today. Now, I enjoyed it. I really loved it. However, there’s such a push for ownvoices books. In other words, this book could have been written by a black author since one of the perspectives was of a young black woman during integration.
However, Talley really did her research. It’s a great example of authors being able to write whatever they want, so long as they do their research. Yes, I prefer ownvoices authors. I actively seek out ownvoices reviewers when possible/needed to see what they thought. But Talley convinced me in this book. She perfectly captured the period and the feelings that I expected them to feel.
So, this book follows two young women in their senior year of high school. Sarah is new because it’s the south during integration and she’s a black woman going to a white school for the first time. Her parents want their kids to have the best education and to be around the best people. She, her sister, and their friends all band together to go to this one school.
Then, there’s Linda. Linda is a white woman and her father is a journalist who writes very racist articles. She doesn’t quite have his opinions, however. She’s also dating the coach at school to get away from a family she doesn’t want to be around.
What they both have in common is they’re both into women — or Sarah’s a lesbian and Linda is interested in men and women. It’s never stated so I don’t feel like assuming that!
They’re forced to work together on a project and, in the end, become friendly. Sarah puts down whatever racist thing that Linda says, educating her in the process. And then something more happens between them.
I really loved that this switched between both the perspectives. I wasn’t sure if I’d be behind the romance, but I actually was in the end. Why? Because I felt like it was believable. I felt like the feelings that they had and the character arc for both were very believable. It was very well-written as usual.
Sarah’s internalized homophobia was so great and I loved to see both of them break it all down. In the end, this was a heartwarming book. It was hard to read, though, because of the descriptions of racist actions. Spitting on people, throwing things, beatings just because white people could get away with it. It was a horrific reminder of what was the norm in America for so many years. (And this country still is racist, tbh.)
I already wish there was a sequel about them and where they end up with life! It was such a great book. While I wish it was ownvoices, Talley captured the period perfectly with each of the characters. I can’t wait until I read another book by her!
Have you read this? What did you think?
Do you know of any ownvoices books set in this period that are also LGBTQ+?