In 1955, eighteen-year-old Janet Jones keeps the love she shares with her best friend Marie a secret. It’s not easy being gay in Washington, DC, in the age of McCarthyism, but when she discovers a series of books about women falling in love with other women, it awakens something in Janet. As she juggles a romance she must keep hidden and a newfound ambition to write and publish her own story, she risks exposing herself—and Marie—to a danger all too real.
Sixty-two years later, Abby Zimet can’t stop thinking about her senior project and its subject—classic 1950s lesbian pulp fiction. Between the pages of her favorite book, the stresses of Abby’s own life are lost to the fictional hopes, desires and tragedies of the characters she’s reading about. She feels especially connected to one author, a woman who wrote under the pseudonym “Marian Love,” and becomes determined to track her down and discover her true identity.
In this novel told in dual narratives, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley weaves together the lives of two young women connected across generations through the power of words. A stunning story of bravery, love, how far we’ve come and how much farther we have to go.
In 1955, aspiring author Janet, a sheltered teen living in Washington, D.C., has no words for what she feels for her best friend, Marie, and she's living through the Lavender Scare that forced LGBTQ people out of government jobs. When she finds a lesbian novel at a bus station, she's inspired to write one herself. Sixty-two years later, high school senior Abby lives in the same city; her love life is hard because her girlfriend dumped her, not because anyone disapproves. Abby has long written fan fiction, and when she discovers lesbian pulp novels from the 1950s and early '60s, she's enthralled and sets out to examine the genre. The books are rule-bound the women must straighten out or die tragically but one tells a love story that Abby can't stop thinking about, particularly because she's trying to understand whether love can last. Talley (Our Own Private Universe) toggles effectively between excerpts from Janet's book, the two women's lives, and Abby's research as the stories draw together. Though secondary characters feel underdrawn, the tale is original and delivers some interesting LGBTQ history, and the tone of the novels within it is pleasantly pulpy. Ages 12 up.
This is such a wonderful book! Well written and very interesting 😍