Title: Our Own Private Universe
Author: Robin Talley
Page Count/Review Word Count: 384
Disclaimer: While I aim to be unbiased, I received a copy of this for free to review.
This book was an unusual read for me, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. People talk a lot about diversity in reading, and this would definitely count as a ‘diverse‘ book – even though I hate that term, because diversity should encompass everything anyway. The main character is a bisexual, African-American Christian girl, and I’m none of those things.
But actually, I really enjoyed it, and I can see why it was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal. It’s sort of like a modern day mix between To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye, insofar as the protagonist is a teenager who’s trying to find herself. But while Holden Caulfield was a bit of a dick, Aki Simon is a nice girl – sure, she’s a bit naive and a little misguided, but her heart’s in the right place and she’s passionate about the world around her, as well as the day-to-day problems that she has to deal with in her own life.
And that, right there, is how I could relate to her. Aki feels like she’s living a lie, because she’s too afraid to be open with her friends and family about something that’s important to her, and I think we’ve all had our little secrets – I don’t think there’s a person in the world doesn’t know something that they don’t want their friends and family to know. It’s only natural, and Talley uses the book to explore both the little secrets and lies that we all seem to tell without realising it, as well as what sexual identity means to a young woman who thinks she’s bisexual but has never had a chance to confirm it.
Overall, I thought it was a cracking little read, although most people of my demographic would struggle to get into it. But if you’re a young adult – and an LGBTQ young adult or a young woman in particular – then it’s definitely worth a read. Note, though, that there are a couple of sex scenes that are inappropriate for young young adults. But yeah!