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Robin Talley grew up in Roanoke, Virginia, writing terrible teen poetry and riding a desegregation bus to the school across town. Robin lives in Washington, D.C., with her fiancée, 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. See Robin Talley on Instagram
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An insightful coming-of-age story about a bisexual teenager’s first experience of love in all its dizzying bliss and complexity. Fifteen-year-old Aki is determined to stop putting things off, and determined to stop living hypothetically: “If I wanted my life to change, then I had to do something. Or at least try.” With that firmly in mind, Aki and best friend Lori make a pact “to have a fling” during their summer trip to Mexico with her dad’s church mission. And that’s where she meets Christa. While Aki’s known that she’s bi for a while, she’d “never known it was possible for a person to look as cute as Christa did”, and the attraction is mutual. But, as the hypothetical starts to get very real and very intense, the young women have some serious complications to deal with, not least the fact that Christa might just have a boyfriend back home, and very strict parents she’s terrified of coming out to. Alongside its elegant portrayal of sexual awakening and safe sex, the novel also explores Aki’s inspirational political stirrings (she oversees a big debate at the summer camp, and becomes passionate about health care issues). As Aki remarks near the end of the tale, “I could do anything. All of us could. We were only as limited as we let ourselves be”, which is a rather wonderful message of hope to come away with.
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | September 2016 Book of the Month In a Nutshell: Deadly Ambition | Scheming with Spirits | Descent into Darkness Thrilling, chilling, supernaturally-charged retelling of Macbeth set in a prestigious southern state high school. While Lily can’t wait to try out her antique Ouija board, her girlfriend Maria is less keen. She has history when it comes to the spirit world. But it's been a while since she's tried to talk to them so “maybe they'd forgotten her,” she hopes. While Lily and Maria are engrossed in the proceedings, their friend Brandon translates the Ouija messages from Spanish and Latin, one of which mentions their prestigious college’s Cawdor Kingsley Prize, which everyone is certain will be awarded to gorgeous golden girl, Delilah, with Maria, as usual, coming second, always the princess to Delilah’s queen. The Ouija’s messages are disturbingly ominous. “That which is second shall be first,” it spells. It turns out that Lily had hoped the Ouija board would spur Maria into believing that it was her destiny to come first and win the prize. She's set on going to Stanford University and is desperate for Maria to go there too, but the only way she's guaranteed a place is if she wins the prize. While the message has got under Maria’s skin, when Lily concocts a plan to ensure she wins it, she doesn't want to go through with it. “It isn't right,” she says, but Lily urges her on, like Lady Macbeth coaxing her husband. It’s not fair that Maria’s talents and efforts aren’t being recognised, and besides, Lily reasons, “this is what the spirits said would happen anyway, right?” So Maria agrees. But soon there’s no going back and Maria descends down a deadly, dark path, dragging her friends and peers with her. This really is an inspired idea - Macbeth converts so well to this exclusive high school setting - and I especially loved the La Llorona strands, the Weeping Woman ghost of Mexican myth whose eerie influence has spread throughout Hispanic culture. This super-smart Shakespearean adaptation is a read-in-one-sitting page-turner. ~ Joanne Owen Robin Talley's new novel Our Own Private Universe will be published on 9th February 2017 - it has been selected by the Lovereading editorial team and a review and extract will be available to view from early February.
Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016. | Fascinating, commanding and stimulating; this work of fiction is steeped in the history of the American school integration struggle in the late 1950’s. The author has clearly done her research and written a provocative and yet somehow irresistibly beautiful novel. Talley picks you up and hurls you down in the middle of the brutal pack mentality, she spins you around, then gently slips hope and love inbetween the clamour and hatred. Sarah and Linda feel substantial and real; their dreams and fears, writhe and pulse from the pages. This is so thought-provoking it almost hurts to read it, yet every word is needed, is necessary and consequently this is a novel that lingers long after you've finished it.