Music from Another World

Inkyard. Mar. 2020. 384p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781335146779.
Gr 8 Up–The framing device for this split-narrative epistolary story is that two teenage girls in California are assigned to write to one another through their Christian schools’ pen pal program in the summer of 1977. Tammy lives in conservative Orange County and is terrified of what will happen if her family finds out she’s a lesbian. Coerced by her Aunt Mandy, a religious leader and powerhouse in the anti-gay movement, Tammy begrudgingly sends mailers promoting Anita Bryant’s Save Our Children campaign. Her only solace is listening to Patti Smith records and writing diary-like letters to Harvey Milk that she never sends. Sharon lives in San Francisco in Dan White’s predominantly white, religious, anti-gay district. Introduced to the Castro neighborhood by her gay brother, heterosexual Sharon begins volunteering at a feminist bookstore and going to punk shows. Tammy and Sharon’s letters are cautious at first, but eventually they realize just how much they have in common and become close. Outed by a girl in her school, Tammy runs away to San Francisco, where Sharon has to reconcile her conception of her quiet pen pal with the outgoing, charismatic Tammy. As the girls get to know one another in real life, Sharon begins to realize sexual orientation is not as rigid as she once believed. Tammy and Sharon are white; the friends they make in the Castro are racially diverse.
VERDICT Talley’s detailed research is evident, and the book is historically accurate without feeling stuffy. Recommended for all teen collections.

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