(December 2016) Robin Talley, New York Times bestselling author of Lies We Tell Ourselves and critically acclaimed What We Left Behind, delivers a timely tale of self-discovery and social awareness in Our Own Private Universe (Harlequin Teen; January 31, 2017; $18.99), hailed by Kirkus in a starred review as “an important and heartfelt contribution to contemporary teen lit about queer women: hopeful, realistic, and romantic.”

15-year-old Aki knows she’s bisexual, but she hasn’t had many chances to put it into practice. A summer youth group trip to Mexico seems like the perfect opportunity to start gaining new experiences, and to test her theory that, in order to live an interesting life, she has to stop thinking and start doing. Aki and her best friend Lori (the only one who knows Aki likes girls) make a pact – they will both hook up with someone three times before they have to go home to their regular lives. It seems like it will be an easy feat when Aki meets Christa, who is older, more experienced, and draws Aki in like a magnet. However, she soon discovers some things are easier in theory than in execution, and Aki must grapple with the highs and lows of many “firsts”, her personal identity and beliefs, and how she fits into her religious family and the world around her.

Our Own Private Universe is a thoughtful look at the search for self that comes with adolescence, complicated by the intersection of race, religion, and orientation. As Aki’s church votes to solidify their stance on topics of gay marriage, immigration, healthcare, war, police brutality, and more, budding activist Aki brings the youth group together for a debate, creating a nuanced discussion of social issues that are currently in the national spotlight. Talley’s raw and honest approach to themes of love, lust, uncertainty, and expectations will resonate with anyone who’s ever been a teenager, and in a genre full of sad stories, Our Own Private Universe reassures LGBTQIA+ teens that they can have a happy ending. At 15, Aki doesn’t have it all figured out, but she has a loving, supportive network of friends, family, and community to help her along the way.


About the Author:

Robin Talley, author of Lies We Tell Ourselves (September 2014), What We Left Behind (October 2015), As I Descended (September 2016), and Our Own Private Universe (January 2017), grew up in Roanoke, Virginia. A Lambda Literary Fellow, Robin now lives in Washington, D.C., with her wife, plus an antisocial cat and a goofy hound dog. When Robin’s not writing, she’s often planning communication strategies at organizations fighting for equal rights and social justice. You can find her on the web at www.robintalley.com or on Twitter at @robin_talley.





Praise for Robin Talley


“An important and heartfelt contribution to contemporary teen lit about queer women: hopeful, realistic, and romantic.”

Kirkus starred review, Our Own Private Universe


“Talley realistically explores first love and first sexual experiences against a backdrop of faith, family, prejudice, and social justice… a valuable portrait of teenage girls learning to be honest with themselves and others.”

Publishers Weekly, Our Own Private Universe


“A sweet love story about discovering who you want to be with and, more important, who you want to be.”

Booklist, Our Own Private Universe


“Particularly important is the novel’s information, so commonly ignored, on safe sex between two women, which is effortlessly worked into the narrative. VERDICT This pitch-perfect romance is all heart, touching on serious issues but never becoming too heavy, and will be a strong addition to any teen collection.”

School Library Journal, Our Own Private Universe


“This title is a must-read… Toni’s genderqueer identity contributes a fresh perspective to LGBTQ fiction. VERDICT Recommended for all collections trying to fill a gap in the representation of transgender voices in teen fiction.”

School Library Journal starred review, What We Left Behind

“Characterization is poignant and razor-sharp… Emotionally astute.”

Kirkus, What We Left Behind


“Talley continues to tackle tough issues with unvarnished honesty… young and emerging adults will find themselves challenged and enlightened.”

Booklist, What We Left Behind


“All the characters, main and supporting, are so well-imagined and well-presented the reader is at once drawn into their world; the dialogue so realistically rendered it speaks in the ear… Beautifully done.”

ALA’s GLBT Round Table Reviews, What We Left Behind

“Steep[s] readers in a pivotal moment of history.”

Publishers Weekly, Lies We Tell Ourselves

“A beautifully written and compelling read.”

— School Library Journal, Lies We Tell Ourselves

“A thorough exploration of more subtle forms of institutionalized and microaggressive bigotry… A well-handled debut.”

Booklist, Lies We Tell Ourselves

“A piercing look at the courage it takes to endure… forms of extreme hatred, violence, racism and sexism.”

— Kirkus Reviews, Lies We Tell Ourselves


“Talley uses these alternating points of view to generate an absolutely thrilling, head-over-heels love story that owes a great deal to traditional romance novel modes of storytelling (while blowing a big raspberry at their whiteness and heteronormativity)… Lies We Tell Ourselves might be fiction, but the story is true — and it’s one we should never forget.”

— NPR, Lies We Tell Ourselves

“This book will go down in the young adult canon as a classic.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Lies We Tell Ourselves

  • 2016 Amnesty CILIP Honour winner, Lies We Tell Ourselves
  • 2016 CILIP Carnegie Medal finalist, Lies We Tell Ourselves
  • 2016 ALA Rainbow List, What We Left Behind
  • 2016 Kirkus Prize Nominee, As I Descended
  • 2015 Lambda Literary Award finalist for Children’s/Young Adult LGBT Fiction, Lies We Tell Ourselves
  • 2015 Amelia Bloomer Project List, Lies We Tell Ourselves
  • 2015 Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens, Lies We Tell Ourselves
  • 2015 YALSA Teens’ Top Ten Nominee, Lies We Tell Ourselves
  • 2014 Junior Library Guild selection, Lies We Tell Ourselves
  • 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards nominee, Lies We Tell Ourselves
  • 2014 Book Expo America Young Adult Editors Buzz Book, Lies We Tell Ourselves
  • 2014 American Booksellers Association Indies Introduce New Voices Selection, Lies We Tell Ourselves
  • 2014 NAIBA Pick of the Lists, Lies We Tell Ourselves