Author: Robin Talley
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publish Date: October 27, 2015
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "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?"
My Two Cents:
"What We Left Behind" is a book that deals with the very serious subject of teen sexuality and gender identity. In this book, we meet Tony and Gretchen, two girls who are on their way to college. At the point in time in which we meet them, they are seniors in high school and Tony is just beginning to discover that she may be transgender. She is unsure how to cope with this and she is unsure if Gretchen will still want to be with her.
This is definitely a heavy topic but I think books like this are so important. I think a lot of times books that have huge issues that they're tackling like transgender identity can be really daunting for the author to pull off. The author has a job in both informing and entertaining and it's a huge task. In this book, I thought that the author did a really good job at bringing both information and fiction together to make a really good story.
The relationship in the book between Gretchen and Toni was so well written. You have two characters that you get to know very well and the author has a great way of giving us a glimpse at the complexity of the relationship and how it changes once they both go to college. It was so interesting to see the way that the author was able to take a topic like this and turn it into a great book. I think diverse books are really important for everyone, but they may be most important for young adults who are confronting so many different issues. Books are a great way to introduce the topic and to get people to start thinking about different issues regardless of how old they are. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author in the future. This is a powerful story and I would actually love to see a sequel!