Title: Our Own Private Universe
Author: Robin Talley
Disclaimer: I received a free copy via NetGalley for review purposes.
Aki, a preachers daughter, and her friend Lori are on a church trip to Mexico for the summer. Aki is determined that for the summer she is going to live life to the fullest. So when she meets Christa, she thinks she’s just going to have a summer fling – a secret summer fling because neither Christa or Aki are out to their family. However, it turns into something more than a summer fling, and her relationship with Christa strains her relationship with her friend Lori.
Our Own Private Universe has some really good discussions about bisexuality – and more importantly – about discovering your own sexuality and how you identify. It sends the message that it’s ok if you don’t have it all figured out, and that there isn’t a timescale. There was especially some great discussions about safe-sex, especially when it’s between two women, which I thought was especially important because lgbt+ sexual health is rarely discussed and teenagers need that information. I especially loved a particular scene between Aki and Christa after Aki came out to her dad, and I loved the distinction it made between Aki and Christa’s relationship and her own coming out decision – showing them as seperate.
While I loved Aki’s supporting and loving family, I didn’t like the pressure Aki sometimes places on Christa to tell her parents despite knowing it could be dangerous for her to do that. However, there were some really great growth and development, and some really great development for both Aki and Christa so that was a positive.
Our Own Private Universe took place in a small town in Mexico while they are on a church volunteering trip. I was unsure about the setting – at once point it was described as ‘exotic’ in the book and it just didn’t really sit well with me. It didn’t really feel like much effort was made to actually write the setting well, which was disappointing.
One main plot point was Aki and her friendship with Lori, which went through a lot of turmoil which was also a disappointment and I would have much preferred a strong and supporting friendship that went both ways. Aki was selfish at times when it came to Lori, and Lori did lie which I was also uncomfortable with. The secondary characters were a bit bland, and didn’t really get as much attention or development or character growth that was given to Aki and Christa and their relationship, which was also a disappointment. I really wasn’t a fan of all the lies throughout the whole novel because I just really don’t like lies, so another disappointment.
Overall, Our Own Private Universe is a great book for those just discovering their identity and sexuality – especially teens.