Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for the ARC, Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley. Fifteen year old Aki and her best friend, Lori, pinky swear on a bet that they will be exploring their sexuality and rating it and comparing it with each other while with their church group in Mexico. Aki is African American and the preacher’s daughter and it is through her very authentic, honest, questioning character the reader follows her as she meets and traverses a romantic, bisexual relationship with Christa (from another Church group). Aki also has lots of drama with family and friend issues too. What I liked about this book is that it raised many issues and explored many relationships. Through Aki we see the teen world with lying, bullying, best friend, and also family, drama. But as Aki maneuvers her way through her summer trip, love life, and countless serious, happy, striking moments, she becomes a character you root for as she grows and changes messily (loved the debates). The reader gets an up close and questioning look at religion, Mexico, family problems, teen friendships, bullying, and bisexuality. The characters are well drawn (adults and teens) with the added backdrop of living and volunteering in a third world country making this a realistic contemporary novel, teens need. I loved in the Author Notes how Robin Talley wishes she had a book like this to read when she was a teen. Recommended.
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