Spotlight—Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley

Robin Talley’s latest, Our Own Private Universe, is out today from Harlequin Teen! Check out the spotlight information below, and be sure to pick up a copy today.

I loved Talley’s book What We Left Behind, because it was so authentic and such a true portrayal of the experience of young people figuring out who they are. I cannot wait to have the time (thanks, grad school, for taking my reading time away) to read this one, but I don’t hesitate to recommend it because of how much I enjoyed Talley’s work before. Read on for more information about Our Own Private Universe!

About the Book:

15-year-old Aki knows she’s bisexual, but she hasn’t had many chances to put it into practice. A summer youth group trip to Mexico seems like the perfect opportunity to start gaining new experiences, and to test her theory that, in order to live an interesting life, she has to stop thinking and start doing. Aki and her best friend Lori (the only one who knows Aki likes girls) make a pact – they will both hook up with someone three times before they have to go home to their regular lives. It seems like it will be an easy feat when Aki meets Christa, who is older, more experienced, and draws Aki in like a magnet. However, she soon discovers some things are easier in theory than in execution, and Aki must grapple with the highs and lows of many “firsts”, her personal identity and beliefs, and how she fits into her religious family and the world around her.

Our Own Private Universe is a thoughtful look at the search for self that comes with adolescence, complicated by the intersection of race, religion, and orientation. As Aki’s church votes to solidify their stance on topics of gay marriage, immigration, healthcare, war, police brutality, and more, budding activist Aki brings the youth group together for a debate, creating a nuanced discussion of social issues that are currently in the national spotlight. Talley’s raw and honest approach to themes of love, lust, uncertainty, and expectations will resonate with anyone who’s ever been a teenager, and in a genre full of sad stories, Our Own Private Universe reassures LGBTQIA+ teens that they can have a happy ending. At 15, Aki doesn’t have it all figured out, but she has a loving, supportive network of friends, family, and community to help her along the way.

About the Author:

Robin Talley, author of Lies We Tell Ourselves (September 2014), What We Left Behind (October 2015), As I Descended (September 2016), and Our Own Private Universe (January 2017), grew up in Roanoke, Virginia. A Lambda Literary Fellow, Robin now lives in Washington, D.C., with her wife, plus an antisocial cat and a goofy hound dog. When Robin’s not writing, she’s often planning communication strategies at organizations fighting for equal rights and social justice. You can find her on the web at or on Twitter at @robin_talley.


Check out praise for Our Own Private Universe and What We Left Behind!

“An important and heartfelt contribution to contemporary teen lit about queer women: hopeful, realistic, and romantic.”

  • Kirkus starred review, Our Own Private Universe

“Talley realistically explores first love and first sexual experiences against a backdrop of faith, family, prejudice, and social justice… a valuable portrait of teenage girls learning to be honest with themselves and others.”

  • Publishers Weekly, Our Own Private Universe

“A sweet love story about discovering who you want to be with and, more important, who you want to be.”

  • Booklist, Our Own Private Universe

“This title is a must-read… Toni’s genderqueer identity contributes a fresh perspective to LGBTQ fiction. VERDICT Recommended for all collections trying to fill a gap in the representation of transgender voices in teen fiction.”

  • School Library Journal starred review, What We Left Behind

“Characterization is poignant and razor-sharp… Emotionally astute.”

  • Kirkus, What We Left Behind

“Talley continues to tackle tough issues with unvarnished honesty… young and emerging adults will find themselves challenged and enlightened.”

  • Booklist, What We Left Behind

“All the characters, main and supporting, are so well-imagined and well-presented the reader is at once drawn into their world; the dialogue so realistically rendered it speaks in the ear… Beautifully done.”

  • ALA’s GLBT Round Table Reviews, What We Left Behind

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