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Our Own Private Universe


Our Own Private Universe

OUR OWN PRIVATE UNIVERSE is the third book by author Robin Talley. It follows 15-year-old Aki Simon as she spends a summer exploring helping others in Mexico and her sexuality. Set in the present day, the novel allows the reader to see what it is like for people living in less fortunate areas and people struggling with discovering their personal identities. I haven't read any of Talley’s other novels, but I can tell she has a very distinct writing style. Throughout the story the reader gets to watch Aki learn and grow as a person over the course of a summer.

"OUR OWN PRIVATE UNIVERSE is a tale of self-discovery and learning to accept yourself….Romance isn't a style of writing I read often, but I think Talley made this story unique and very intriguing."

OUR OWN PRIVATE UNIVERSE opens with a very personal scene with Aki, the main character. She sits alone outside a party avoiding everyone inside and just doing her own thing. During the first chapter we learn a lot about Aki and who she is as a person. Aki has travelled to Mexico with her church and other churches under the same name to help build in a rural Mexican town. She has a theory she wants to test out that summer, but to do so, she needs to make some new friends and make sure to keep her old ones.

Aki meets Christa, a photographer from another church near Aki’s. As Aki hangs out with Christa more than her best friend Lori, Lori starts to get annoyed with Aki and they get into a huge fight. Aki has to decide whether or not to tell her father, the minister of her church, about Lori’s secrets, her brother’s secrets and even her own. Aki struggles with keeping everything that is happening bottled up and not telling anyone. As she slowly opens up to her friends and family she understands that secrets can be harmful, not only to yourself, but to your connections with others. OUR OWN PRIVATE UNIVERSE is a tale of self-discovery and learning to accept yourself and stand up for what you believe is right.

Through the story the reader learns about Aki’s family and past and how that shaped her to be the person she is now. I felt very self-reflective when reading those parts because whether we think about it or not, everyone is shaped by who they know and what they have done. Even your parent’s experiences shape you indirectly.

Romance isn't a style of writing I read often, but I think Talley made this story unique and very intriguing. I haven't read any other novels like Talley’s, most authors don't write about same sex relationships. Talley also touches upon other controversial topics briefly, such as legalizing marijuana, gun control, developing country health care and more.

I recommend this story to anyone who is interested in subjects like gay marriage and developing countries. There are some parts of the story that get a little PG-13, but you can skip over them without missing much plot line, if you don’t want to read those types of things. The book is a quick read, with only 384 pages, I read it in about 3 days or so.

Reviewed by Emma B., Teen Board Member on January 25, 2017

Our Own Private Universe
by Robin Talley

  • Publication Date: September 18, 2018
  • Genres: Gay & Lesbian, Romance, Young Adult 14+
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin Teen
  • ISBN-10: 1335013369
  • ISBN-13: 9781335013361