Pulp

Robin Talley

Book - 2018

In 1955, eighteen-year-old Janet Jones keeps the love she shares with her best friend Marie a secret. It's not easy being gay in Washington, DC, in the age of McCarthyism, but when she discovers a series of books about women falling in love with other women, it awakens something in Janet. As she juggles a romance she must keep hidden and a newfound ambition to write and publish her own story, she risks exposing herself--and Marie--to a danger all too real. Sixty-two years later, Abby Zimet ...can't stop thinking about her senior project and its subject: classic 1950s lesbian pulp fiction. Between the pages of her favorite book, the stresses of Abby's own life are lost to the fictional hopes, desires and tragedies of the characters she's reading about. She feels especially connected to one author, a woman who wrote under the pseudonym "Marian Love," and becomes determined to track her down and discover her true identity. The story of two young women connected across generations through the power of words.

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Subjects
Genres
Novels
Romance fiction
Gay fiction
Published
Toronto, Ontario : Harlequin Teen [2018]
Language
English
Physical Description
406 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9781335012906
1335012907
Main Author
Robin Talley (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Not many YA novels contain one lesbian romance, let alone four, but Talley's newest pulls it off, while creatively spanning time and genre. In the present day, Abby Zimet is out and proud, despite chaffing against the "just friends" label newly instituted by her ex. Breakup stress is compounded by her parents' crumbling marriage, and Abby finds escape in an unlikely place: vintage lesbian pulp fiction. So much so that researching the genre and writing her own pulp novel becomes her senior project. The book that starts her obsession is Women of the Twilight Realm, by Marian Love, passages of which intercut Abby's narrative, along with 18-year-old Janet Jones' story line, set in 1955. Janet's own discovery of lesbian lit holds many parallels to Abby's, but her closeted life offers a dramatic contrast. Talley pulls pre-Stonewall history, such as the lavender scare, the gay bar scene, and actual lesbian pulp authors, into this fun but substantive read. As Abby loses herself to her project, she eventually finds firmer footing in her own life and identity. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In 1955, aspiring author Janet, a sheltered teen living in Washington, D.C., has no words for what she feels for her best friend, Marie, and she's living through the Lavender Scare that forced LGBTQ people out of government jobs. When she finds a lesbian novel at a bus station, she's inspired to write one herself. Sixty-two years later, high school senior Abby lives in the same city; her love life is hard because her girlfriend dumped her, not because anyone disapproves. Abby has long written fan fiction, and when she discovers lesbian pulp novels from the 1950s and early '60s, she's enthralled and sets out to examine the genre. The books are rule-bound—the women must straighten out or die tragically—but one tells a love story that Abby can't stop thinking about, particularly because she's trying to understand whether love can last. Talley (Our Own Private Universe) toggles effectively between excerpts from Janet's book, the two women's lives, and Abby's research as the stories draw together. Though secondary characters feel underdrawn, the tale is original and delivers some interesting LGBTQ history, and the tone of the novels within it is pleasantly pulpy. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich, & Bourret. (Nov.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 8 Up—Senior Abby returns from summer break in the hopes that the hiatus she and ex-girlfriend Linh took in the spring will end and they can be a couple again. That, combined with her parents' estrangement, prompt Abby to immerse herself in her senior year assignment: 1950s lesbian fiction. Abby discovers a book written by "Marian Love" that speaks to her conception of love. In alternating chapters, we meet the work's real author, Janet Jones, a recent graduate who herself has stumbled upon lesbian fiction validating her feelings for her friend Marie. But Marie works for the federal government in the midst of the Lavender Scare—an extension of the Red Scare that sought to root out LGBTQ employees—complicating their budding relationship. Abby's quest to find the author under the auspices of her assignment allows her to avoid confronting her changing relationship with Linh. Talley, already accomplished at weaving historical detail into engaging narratives, pulls off an expansive story encompassing a host of characters, including the fictional characters within Janet's books. She skillfully illustrates the fear and isolation of being a lesbian teen in unforgiving times, making the larger historical context relatable and the intimate aspects visceral. Her modern characters by contrast are out LGBTQ+ teens. Abby's sexuality is a given, she's free to live her relationships and explore her issues. VERDICT A sweeping, engrossing drama full of important moments. Recommended for all library collections.—Hillary St. George, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2018 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Duel narratives follow an eighteen-year-old closeted lesbian in 1955 keeping a secret romance and wanting to write her own stories and another young woman sixty-two years later studying 1950s lesbian pulp fiction for her senior project.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Two gay teens, one coming of age in the closet in 1955 and the other who is openly out in the present day, are unexpectedly connected by their shared interest in the literary legacy of lesbian pulp fiction. By the best-selling author of Our Own Private Universe. 40,000 first printing. Simultaneous eBook.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

In 1955, eighteen-year-old Janet Jones keeps the love she shares with her best friend Marie a secret. It’s not easy being gay in Washington, DC, in the age of McCarthyism, but when she discovers a series of books about women falling in love with other women, it awakens something in Janet. As she juggles a romance she must keep hidden and a newfound ambition to write and publish her own story, she risks exposing herself—and Marie—to a danger all too real.Sixty-two years later, Abby Zimet can’t stop thinking about her senior project and its subject—classic 1950s lesbian pulp fiction. Between the pages of her favorite book, the stresses of Abby’s own life are lost to the fictional hopes, desires and tragedies of the characters she’s reading about. She feels especially connected to one author, a woman who wrote under the pseudonym “Marian Love,” and becomes determined to track her down and discover her true identity.In this novel told in dual narratives, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley weaves together the lives of two young women connected across generations through the power of words. A stunning story of bravery, love, how far we’ve come and how much farther we have to go.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

In 1955, eighteen-year-old Janet Jones keeps the love she shares with her best friend Marie a secret. It's not easy being gay in Washington, DC, in the age of McCarthyism, but when she discovers a series of books about women falling in love with other women, it awakens something in Janet. As she juggles a romance she must keep hidden and a newfound ambition to write and publish her own story, she risks exposing herself'and Marie'to a danger all too real.Sixty-two years later, Abby Zimet can't stop thinking about her senior project and its subject'classic 1950s lesbian pulp fiction. Between the pages of her favorite book, the stresses of Abby's own life are lost to the fictional hopes, desires and tragedies of the characters she's reading about. She feels especially connected to one author, a woman who wrote under the pseudonym 'marian Love," and becomes determined to track her down and discover her true identity.In this novel told in dual narratives, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley weaves together the lives of two young women connected across generations through the power of words. A stunning story of bravery, love, how far we've come and how much farther we have to go.