Cover image for Music from another world
Title:
Music from another world
ISBN:
9781335146779
Physical Description:
377 pages ; 22 cm.
Summary:
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 Hakwins 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 turth 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. --
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Summary

Summary

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.

A master of award-winning queer historical fiction, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley once again brings to life with heart and vivid detail 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.


Author Notes

Robin Talley is the New York Times-bestselling author of four novels for teen readers: Our Own Private Universe, As I Descended, What We Left Behind, and Lies We Tell Ourselves. Her first book, Lies We Tell Ourselves, was the winner of the inaugural Amnesty CILIP Honour. Robin was a Lambda Literary Foundation fellow, and has contributed short stories to the young adult anthologies A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers and Other Badass Girls, All Out, and Feral Youth.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up--The framing device for this split-narrative epistolary story is that two teenage girls in California are assigned to write to one another through their Christian schools' pen pal program in the summer of 1977. Tammy lives in conservative Orange County and is terrified of what will happen if her family finds out she's a lesbian. Coerced by her Aunt Mandy, a religious leader and powerhouse in the anti-gay movement, Tammy begrudgingly sends mailers promoting Anita Bryant's Save Our Children campaign. Her only solace is listening to Patti Smith records and writing diary-like letters to Harvey Milk that she never sends. Sharon lives in San Francisco in Dan White's predominantly white, religious, anti-gay district. Introduced to the Castro neighborhood by her gay brother, heterosexual Sharon begins volunteering at a feminist bookstore and going to punk shows. Tammy and Sharon's letters are cautious at first, but eventually they realize just how much they have in common and become close. Outed by a girl in her school, Tammy runs away to San Francisco, where Sharon has to reconcile her conception of her quiet pen pal with the outgoing, charismatic Tammy. As the girls get to know one another in real life, Sharon begins to realize sexual orientation is not as rigid as she once believed. Tammy and Sharon are white; the friends they make in the Castro are racially diverse. VERDICT Talley's detailed research is evident, and the book is historically accurate without feeling stuffy. Recommended for all teen collections.--Shira Pilarski, Farmington Community Library, MI


Publisher's Weekly Review

In 1977, Anita Bryant and Harvey Milk are on the rise. Rising high school juniors Tammy and Sharon are too old for their summer pen-pal assignment, but they don't have a choice: class credit calls. Tammy's from an evangelical family in affluent Orange County; Sharon lives in San Francisco (the Catholic part, not the cool part), but they both love Patti Smith and are getting into punk rock. The girls are also keeping big secrets: Tammy's gay, and so is Sharon's brother Peter. Sharon tells her diary the stuff she wants to keep private; Tammy writes to Harvey Milk, the only openly gay person she's ever seen. When Tammy's life in her family's church becomes untenable and Sharon starts having unexpected feelings for girls, things get complicated--and interesting. Talley (Pulp) specializes in LGBTQ-themed historical fiction, and she draws from rich material here: antigay ordinances hitting the ballot, Castro Street activism heating up. Tammy and Sharon and their growing friendship are believable and sympathetically rendered, and readers will root for them as they struggle to decide which is harder: staying in the closet or coming out. Ages 13--up. (Mar.)


Kirkus Review

As the national gay rights battle heats up in the summer of 1977, two high school girls from disparate California communities are paired in a pen pal assignment. Tammy Larson is from a conservative Christian community in Orange County. She is forced by her family to participate in activities in support of Anita Bryant's anti-gay rights crusade in Florida. Tammy knows she is gay and fears the wrath of her Aunt Mandy, a church leader. Sharon Hawkins lives with her mother and brother in San Francisco. She is keeping her brother's gay identity a secret while also trying to figure out her feelings for her boyfriendand for girls. The book's structure includes Tammy's and Sharon's letters interspersed with Sharon's diary entries and Tammy's unmailed letters to her idol, gay rights leader Harvey Milk. The girls' growing trust in each other makes Sharon's home the logical place for Tammy to flee following a crisis at home. The author expertly brings to life the pre-AIDS world of San Francisco's gay neighborhoods, the vitality of the nascent gay rights movement (including welcome details about the often overlooked lesbian community), and the punk rock scene. The book's strengths include good pacing, a respectful acknowledgment of bisexuality, and satisfying personal and political denouements. Both girls are white; there is ethnic diversity in secondary characters.This queer novel stands out thanks to the 1970s San Francisco setting and punk vibe. (Historical fiction. 13-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Seventeen-year-olds Sharon and Tammy, who live in San Francisco, and Orange County, California, respectively, are pen pals, thanks to a statewide writing project. Their letters form the substance of this almost epistolary novel. "Almost" because whenever the girls want to share something too intimate for their letters, they resort to writing in a diary (Sharon) or in unsent letters to gay politician Harvey Milk (Tammy). Both girls harbor secrets: Sharon's older brother is secretly gay, while Tammy is a deeply closeted lesbian. When she is inadvertently outed, Tammy flees conservative Orange County and winds up unbidden on Sharon's doorstep. In the meantime, Sharon, having always felt she didn't fit in, begins to find herself in punk music and a feminist bookstore, where Tammy also becomes a fixture as the girls' relationship gradually evolves beyond the easy friendship of their letters. Set in 1977, the novel does a fine job of capturing the LGBTQ+ milieu of the time, the difficulties of coming out, and, especially, the politics that drove early efforts at gay rights.