Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley
Review by Lauren
source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: Fifteen-year-old Aki Simon has a theory. And it's mostly about sex.
No, it isn't that kind of theory. Aki already knows she's bisexual—even if, until now, it's mostly been in the hypothetical sense. Aki has dated only guys so far, and her best friend, Lori, is the only person who knows she likes girls, too.
Actually, Aki's theory is that she's got only one shot at living an interesting life—and that means she's got to stop sitting around and thinking so much. It's time for her to actually do something. Or at least try.
So when Aki and Lori set off on a church youth-group trip to a small Mexican town for the summer and Aki meets Christa—slightly older, far more experienced—it seems her theory is prime for the testing.
But it's not going to be easy. For one thing, how exactly do two girls have sex, anyway? And more important, how can you tell if you're in love? It's going to be a summer of testing theories—and the result may just be love.
Review: Aki is pretty sure she's bisexual but she's only ever kissed boys. Only her best friend Lori even knows she feels this way. When the two girls join their local church on a mission trip to Mexico, they both decide to make the summer one worth remembering by having a fling. Aki doesn't count on meeting Christa, a very pretty girl that Aki thinks is way too cool for her, until Christa makes it obvious she's interested in Aki too. The two begin getting to know each other, mostly in secret, as neither of them are out. Plus, Aki has her older brother and father on the trip and she definitely doesn't want them know. For awhile, Lori is the only one privy to the details of Aki's burgeoning summer romance with a girl.
I've read Talley's first two books and loved them so I was really excited to read this book, since it seemed all about coming to terms with your sexuality and not just gay/straight, but bisexualiyt. There aren't that many YA novels that focus on being bi so it's exciting to come across one done so well. The setting of Mexico was used well, allowing these girls a place to escape normal life and get to know one another from the usual pressures of being a teen. I appreciated that Talley was matter of fact about the sexual aspects of their relationship, as it makes it a responsible read for real life teens. Despite the focus on safety, it's still a romantic and enticing read. I loved getting to know both Aki and Christa - and even when they found things they didn't love about one another, they were able to keep things moving forward. There were definitely lies or lies by omission, but nothing that was added for unneeded drama.
One of the main things I really enjoyed about Our Own Private Universe is that it doesn't just focus on Aki and Christa. There is also Lori, Aki's best friend, who might not be the same girl Aki always knew. There is Drew, Aki's older brother, who has secrets and life-changing revelations of his own. There is Aki and Drew's father, who both are scared to talk to about important topics since he's their church's minister. They aren't sure how much religion and other personal beliefs will affect how he sees them when he discovers their various truths. Among these characters are other wonderful secondary ones who you really feel like you get to know. I'd personally love to have a book from Jake's perspective - a fellow teen on the trip who helps Aki really think about the world at large and not just the part she occupies.
Definitely a good read. I would definitely recommend and not just for LGBT+ fans! There is much more to discover within these pages.
Interested? Check it out on Amazon (I'm an affiliate; I get a small percent of any sale)