What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

What We Left Behind - Robin Talley

What We Left Behind is the story of girlfriends, Toni and Gretchen, who need to deal with a long distance relationship when they both go away to separate colleges after high-school graduation. Starting with keeping the fact that she is going to a separate college then Toni, Gretchen puts the first physical tear in there relationship. From there on, it only gets harder- now Toni is keeping a big secret from Gretchen. Toni's gender identity comes to question and Toni is not quite sure what to think anymore... When Toni neglects to share this with Gretchen, will this couple that was once thick as thieves call it quits?


After reading Robin Talley's Lies We Tell Ourselves, I was really excited to read her next. I loved her first book a lot, it's one of my favorite recent reads. But this one was a let down...

Since this book is about a transgender/gender non-binary person, I thought it held even more potential for awesomeness. But the story to me was not more then the very technical transition that Toni goes through. Just a jumbled chaos. Just a skeleton of a story because of how little it focused even on Toni and Gretchen's actual relationship. Or on emotions. Seemed to be a lack of those. All the thoughts the characters had were not really expressed.

I thought Toni was more than a little bit selfish, seeing how kind Gretchen was kind to Toni no matter what, and Toni still shoves her away with claims of- "But you don't understand me"! C'mon, she just said she loves and supports you no matter what! Give her a break!

Also, Gretchen sadly had very little to her plotline, because she kind of just waited around for Toni constantly while Toni was busy having a life.

Though I know very little about what it means to be transgender personally, I saw numerous reviews saying that this book did no justice to the topic or to describing what it means to be genderqueer accurately.

It seemed the author was so focused on trying to pin that anyways that she left a lot of frayed edges to the story... What happened to the friends Gretchen made? It didn't even seem that Toni came to any feeling of identity, so the topic stayed confusing to me in regard to Toni's character. They both do some pretty shitty things that don't really have any resolution. Or even lack thereof- they kind of just get overlooked. They don't really talk about ANYTHING with each other. So much is left unsaid.

Felt like a lot at once, and like the book left me with nothing at the same time. 


I don't particularly recommend this book. (But do yourselves a favor and read Lies We Tell Ourselves. You won't regret it.)