Thursday, 3 December 2015
What We Left Behind - Robin Talley
"What happens when love isn't enough to conquer all?
Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They've been together forever. They never fight. They're deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college—Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU—they're sure they'll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, their relationship will surely thrive.
The reality of being apart, however, is a lot different than they expected. As Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, falls in with a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship.
While Toni worries that Gretchen, who is not trans, just won't understand what is going on, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in Toni's life. As distance and Toni's shifting gender identity begins to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide—have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?" - Goodreads
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
First things first, I was so excited to read a book about these particular themes, on the one hand, dealing with a long-distance relationship but more importantly, to learn more about what it means to be genderqueer. I probably should have read the reviews first, because I didn't learn much. I disliked most of the characters, they came across as pretty one-dimensional to me. I particularly disliked T, I don't know why, I just couldn't connect with her/him/T and a lot of what she/he/T did and said annoyed me. But there were a few aspects of the story that I enjoyed, particularly the pain and hurt they both felt as they left for university. I shouldn't have enjoyed those parts, should I? Oh well!
I really don't have a lot to say about this book, I don't want to ramble on about how terrible it was, because honestly, it wasn't that bad. I just didn't like it. The writing was okay, nothing special. The plot was a little bland, not a lot happened. The things that did happen were super unrealistic, in my opinion anyway!
T had an issue with using gender-specific pronouns, and I mean, I don't know a lot about what the correct way to approach this subject is, but for some reason I felt that this book isn't the answer. And other people's reviews seem to agree with me. I can't put my finger on why it wasn't good, or why it didn't teach me what I wanted to learn, but I felt that being genderqueer or transgender is more than just using the pronouns that 'feel right' and this book just seemed to be all about the pronouns.
I would have preferred if this book was centered around her/his/T's family, and their reactions, the way they all deal with it in their different ways. It could have been completely heartwrenching, but also beautiful. I must find a book like that, this certainly wasn't what I was looking for.
I really did like Gretchen though. She was the only character that I felt for, I wanted to continue reading for her parts. She was definitely a lot more relatable and a lot easier to like. I kind of wish we had two separate books.. one for T and dealing with family etc, and one for Gretchen and her 'finding herself' issues.
Also, the end. It kind of just stopped. What was that about? We don't know what happeend to them. I wasn't satisfied.
I rated this 3* on Goodreads, but looking back now, I have very little good things to say about it, so I'm going to knock it down to 1*. I personally wouldn't recommend this book to anyone, I feel that there are definitely better ones out there; I just need to find them first!