It’s summer 1977 and closeted lesbian Tammy Larson can’t be herself anywhere. Not at her strict Christian high school, not at her conservative Orange County church and certainly not at home, where her ultrareligious aunt relentlessly organises anti-gay political campaigns. Tammy’s only outlet is writing secret letters in her diary to gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk…until she’s matched with a real-life pen pal who changes everything.
Sharon Hawkins bonds with Tammy over punk music and carefully shared secrets, and soon their letters become the one place she can be honest. The rest of her life in San Francisco is full of lies. The kind she tells for others — like helping her gay brother hide the truth from their mum — and the kind she tells herself. But as anti-gay fervour in America reaches a frightening new pitch, Sharon and Tammy must rely on their long-distance friendship to discover their deeply personal truths, what they’ll stand for…and who they’ll rise against.
umm, where was this book when I was a teenager trying to figure my stuff out?
With a soundtrack of punk and Patti Smith, the letters and diary entries that comprise this amazing book are so real and full of heart and angst and I would not be a teenager again if you paid me!
Sharon and Tammy are trying to find their places in the world, while the world seems determined to stop them. From Tammy’s controlling aunt, to the very politics of the time (Harvey Milk is running his first campaign), there’s a lot to take a stand against. But also a lot to stand for.
I loved the descriptions of Sharon’s punk gigs and the feminist bookshop and Tammy’s awful church meetings.
This book has an enormous amount of heart and wears it proudly on its sleeve.
Reading this as we head into Pride month (June in the UK) makes me miss the celebrations more as events have been cancelled due to the current lockdown, and this feels like an antidote to that.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.