Book Chat | What We Left Behind by Robin Talley


I would like to thank NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for giving me the opportunity to read and review this wonderful book!


From the critically acclaimed author of Lies We Tell Ourselves comes an emotional, empowering story of 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?

Click here to go to the Goodreads page!


Hello bookworms and welcome back! I feel like it has been forever since I have done a review. But here I am, on the first of October, bringing you a review of the upcoming novel by Robin Talley, What We Left Behind! This comes out in 19 days for all of you bookworms in Australia (and for the US it comes out October 27th), and I suggest you ALL contemplate picking it up, because this book is simply fantastic! Keep reading to know why… 


What We Left Behind is a stunning novel that highly features sexuality diversity within a light, sweet and fun atmosphere, while tackling the issues that come with discovering who you are and who means the most to you.

Robin Talley has created a wonderful novel that literally screams sexual diversity. Presenting to the reader two main characters who are still in the process of not just discovering who they are, but also their own sexuality, we get a glimpse into the lives of many who are coming to terms with who they are.

This is a brilliant story about love, friendships, growing up and accepting who you are despite the labels of society, all wrapped within a pretty bow of lightness and sweetness. I would recommend this book to everyone, being a perfect insider to the voices of our society that are too afraid to speak up for themselves.

The first and most huge stand-out of this novel is it’s approach to sexual diversity. It’s literally overflowing with it! Robin Talley presents two main protagonists who are both lesbian and are in an extremely loving relationship. Toni is the first protagonist and is dealing with the most challenging issue within this novel. Identifying herself as genderqueer, she struggles with keeping up her presentation of being the middle ground between male and female as she is exposed to a group of transgender friends in her new university. Gretchen is the other protagonist, who is much more comfortable and confident that she is indeed a female and is lesbian. Despite these differences, Toni and Gretchen love each other in the most powerful way. However, moving to different universities so far apart from each other prove to be more challenging than they thought. 

What We Left Behind is a novel that tackles the struggles and hardships in coming to terms with who you are as a person in the most wonderful way. With all characters involved being from all over the LGBTQ spectrum, What We Left Behind seeks to naturalize all these genders in a very successful, light and fun way. Through the protagonist Toni, we get to see firsthand, through first person POV, all the complicated feelings that come with the confusion of trying to figure out where you fit on the male-female spectrum. 

I absolutely adore the approach Talley has taken with this novel. I don’t know half as much as I should know about the LGBTQ genre and all the types of labels that comes with it. What We Left Behind is a novel that sheds light on it and will definitely not only help you understand these people better, but also understand and sympathize with the daily struggles that these people have to go through, not just within themselves but the struggles with their friends, family and loved ones. We see this through Toni’s struggle and development over the course of the novel, all from her thoughts of feeling like she doesn’t fit in to the female gender, to contemplating becoming transgender. 

Not only is this novel about gender and sexuality diversity and identity, it’s about love and family and friendships. Toni and Gretchen believe their love will come through, no matter what. But with growing distance, going to different universities and Toni trying to figure out her identity, things get hard. This is such a genuine, heart-felt story. It shows how people part of the LGBTQ are treated by friends and family. Some situations are heartbreaking, some situations are treated with love and acceptance. What We Left Behind reveals the reality of it all. The importance of love, and the acceptance from your family and friends. 

Wrapped in a wonderful bow of lightheartedness, quirk and fun, What We Left Behind tackles all these deep and pressing issues that need to be more addressed and naturalized in our society by presenting it within an adorable, extremely quirky story with amazingly funny characters that all have their own fabulous quirks to their personalities. Not only will What We Left Behind make you think deeply, it will also make you smile and laugh and it will entertain you thoroughly, with an adorable romance to match. 

I hope you all enjoyed my review of What We Left Behind by Robin Talley! Honestly, I was surprisingly blown away by this novel. I wasn’t expecting it to be so lovely. I really do hope all of you write this book and it’s release date down and maybe even pre-order it! You will not regret it. October 19th for all you Australian bookworms and October 27th, mark it on your calendars!


Amazon | Book Depository


26 thoughts on “Book Chat | What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

  1. Another excellent review, Josie! Isn’t it fun winning free ARCs? I just got my first ARC a few weeks ago and found out today that another is on its way….squeeee. Regarding this book, I’m glad more novels are being published that feature genderqueer characters, a community that’s been overlooked in modern literature, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Eve! Yes, getting ARCS is the best thing ever!
      Indeed! I hadn’t heard of gender queer females until I read this book! 😊 I definitely want to see more of it and hope it all starts with this book.

      Thank you for the lovely comment!


  2. I love that you are back! I also love that this book is educational in a sense. I do find that sometimes it is hard to empathize with characters that you can’t specifically relate to. Sounds like this is an important read for everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, I’m glad! I’m happy to be back too! 😊
      This is definitely an important read. It’s such a fun read but it really delves in deeper and makes you think and understand!


  3. Such a great review Josie! I’ve been meaning to read more diverse books, and it’s the first time I’m seeing such a sexual diversity in one book. Plus, this seems like such a heartfelt story, it’s definitely going on my TBR right away! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is quite amazing! I hope you consider picking it up, either pre-ordering or when it comes out! Thank you!
      And YES I changed my logo! Thank you darling, I’m so glad you like it! 😀


  4. This sounds like a wonderful novel! I love reading LGBTQ+ books but most of the ones I’ve read only feature gay characters and relationships. The Flywheel is really the book that I can think of off the top of my head that features lesbian characters… as well as David Levithan’s books, which always have very diverse LGBTQ+ characters. I think YA definitely needs more books like this one that explore sexuality in more detail (and are actually about sexuality, rather than just having LGBTQ+ characters). I think this is one that I’ll definitely pick up when it comes out! Thanks for the review, Josie!

    Liked by 1 person

    • This novel really is wonderful! And I totally agree that most novels that are LGBTQ+ are usually around gay characters. But this novel deals with the entire spectrum! I could hardly keep up with it all! With words like non-binary and such, I was really intrigued by just how much there was to know! This book was quite an eye-opener.
      I haven’t read enough LGBTQ+ books, and I really need to jump into David Levithan’s books and I might check out The Flywheel too!

      I hope you do pick it up, Jenna! Thank you and you’re welcome! xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

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