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What We Left Behind (Harlequin Teen) Hardcover – October 27, 2015

3.3 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Talley continues to tackle tough issues with unvarnished honesty. While Toni's awareness takes flight, Gretchen's confusion about the nature of their relationship (are they lesbians anymore?) and fears of saying the wrong thing steadies the narrative and resonates as well-intentioned and sympathetic." -Booklist

"Characterization is poignant and razor-sharp... Emotionally astute." -Kirkus

"With vividly drawn characters and killer prose, this is Robin Talley's writing at its best. I couldn't put it down. What We Left Behind perfectly portrays the tumultuous and scary (but exciting!) time transitioning between high school and college, when teens begin to find out who they really are." -Miranda Kenneally, bestselling author of Catching Jordan

"What We Left Behind is a honest and searing love story, impressively complex and nuanced in its examination of the evolution of a long-distance relationship. A lot of words will be used to describe Robin Talley's follow-up to the acclaimed Lies We Tell Ourselves: Important. Brave. Necessary. They will all be true, and everyone should read this book." -I.W. Gregorio, author of None of the Above

"Robin Talley beautifully captures the feeling of falling in love, falling apart, and finding your truth in this powerful novel. Toni and Gretchen's journey will make readers feel all the feels. An important read about strength, self, and discovery." -Tess Sharpe, author of Far From You

"This title is a must-read for high school Gay Straight Alliance members...Toni's genderqueer identity contributes a fresh perspective to LGBTQ fiction. Recommended for all collections." -School Library Journal, starred review

About the Author

Robin Talley studied literature and communications at American University. She lives in Washington, DC, with her wife, but visits both Boston and New York regularly despite her moral opposition to Massachusetts winters and Times Square. Her first book was 2014's Lies We Tell Ourselves. Visit her online at robintalley.com or on Twitter at @robin_talley.

Product Details

  • Series: Harlequin Teen
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin Teen (October 27, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373211759
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373211753
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #574,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
***I received this as a gift in exchange for an honest review

Here’s the thing: There’s a lot of negativity about this book, mainly about the use of genderqueer, that takes away the positive aspects of this book, the things that make it so important, and truly shine. Despite the “misuse” of the genderqueer label, there are tons of other terms that are relevant and so crucial to be aware of when talking about the LGTBQIA community.

You want to learn about the various terminology, and intricate associations with gender in the LGBTQIA community.
You’re looking for a complex contemporary full of unique, and diverse characters.
You’re in search of an on the cusp evolution from high school to college. Mature YA-New Adult.

The story is educational in that it spreads awareness of the terms and to question how to address people properly in the LGBTQIA community, especially those where it is not clear. It can be embarrassing but it is courteous and important to ask how they’d like to be addressed. For people who are not up on their gender and LGBT studies, this could be extremely enlightening.

You can feel every ounce of anxiety and confusion from both Toni and Gretchen. The fear of confession, of being rejected, and not knowing who they want to be. Gretchen and Toni were together for so long that they forgot how to be without each other, they were more half of a whole than individuals, this is highlighted in Gretchen’s character.

Gretchen and her group of friends were entertaining, fun, and got through hard discussions without digressing into a philosophical spiel.
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Format: Hardcover
Robin Talley’s first book, LIES WE TELL OURSELVES, was one of my favorites of 2014. When I saw she had a new book, one about a genderqueer protagonist, I couldn’t wait to read it. Books are slowly becoming more diverse, but it’s still rare to find one that explores gender identity. Just like the author’s debut, WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND is a book that touched me deeply, made me think a lot, and is one I want everyone to read.

WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND kind of straddles the line between Young Adult and New Adult. Toni and Gretchen are eighteen, just starting their first year of college. That’s an important time for a lot of people, because it’s the first time you’re on your own, with the chance to explore your interests and start to figure out who you really are. I think the author captured the chaos and freedom of that time quite well, when you’re trying new things, juggling old and new friendships, distant parental expectations, and maybe even an ongoing relationship.

I like just about everything in WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND, but a few things stand out. One is the relationship between Toni and Gretchen. Very rarely do YA books show the meat of a relationship — so much of the time, a book is focused on getting the characters together. In WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND, Toni and Gretchen have been a couple for two years. So they’re sure they can handle the distance between Boston and New York City. For a couple that loves each other as much as they do, a few hundred miles is no big deal. Nevermind the fact that Gretchen didn’t tell Toni she applied to NYU, instead of following Toni to Boston. That’s fine, because they don’t fight. But when you don’t fight, and you don’t really talk about the issues that bother you, how well does a relationship work?
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Format: Hardcover
'What We Left Behind' is an emotional young adult contemporary romance that deals with a transgender/genderqueer couple, Toni and Gretchen, and how their relationship struggles during their first year apart at college. Toni and Gretchen have been together for what seems like forever and they're still hopelessly in love, even after all these years. It's almost a picture perfect relationship - until they have to go their separate ways for college. Toni finds a group of transgender students that gives a sense of belonging in a crazy world. Gretchen is trying to figure out who she is without Toni by her side - and if she'll even fit into Toni's new life. Soon the time apart and Toni's shifting identity begin to take a toll on their relationship, and they're forced to face a tough decision - whether they should go their separate ways or if their love is worth fighting for.

YA contemporary isn't one of my favorite genres, so I don't tend to read many books of that nature. A lot of them seem to be taken from the same generic template and given some detail changes - and that's it. Most of the books seem to be basically the same story to me, which is part of the reason why I don't read much of them. Please note that this has nothing to do with the books or authors themselves. These are my personal thoughts and opinions, and other readers are sure to feel differently about it. The story itself was full of emotion as well as hard topics that some couples must face - like long distance relationships and growing apart. The fact that the couple is transgender/transqueer is not surprising to me due to the large trend that's happening in the YA fiction genre right now.
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