What We Left Behind by Robin Talley
What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

About the 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?


My Thoughts 

I read the ARC of this book, and I can't say that I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed Lies We Tell Ourselves but I also didn't hate it. I had a few problems with this book......

The genderqueer representation is not good at all. The main character T was referred as a genderqueer character however, the way T few genderqueer was so annoying!. T acts like a hipster "babydyke" (another character's word, not mine) and goes around calling everyone by gender neutral pronouns, until the very end of the novel. Secondly, T is portrayed consistently as "confused." This is fine; because growing up is very confusing especially when you're trying to "find" yourself. In my opinion I do not think it is okay for a author to portray a character as officially genderqueer and then have their thought process be, "I think I might be transgender, and I might want to transition ftm, I might want to go on hormones, I might get surgery, but then again I might just be "gender variant" (T's word) or "gender nonconforming" (also T's word) but I'm not sure right now, I'm really confused so I'm just going to go with genderqueer."
For a book to clearly present a character (all the way to the end) in a manner that reinforces all those toxic stereotypes is really problematic.Although I could not relate to this book, I just felt that the book was based on stereotype versus actual facts. 


T girlfriend Gretchen was the sweetest character however, the author made her seem to dependent on T. Gretchen life revolved around T and I did not like that.  I understand Gretchen was madly in love with T but she didn't have a mind of her own. She was afraid to express what her deepest thoughts were because she was afraid of what T might say. She seemed weak to me and that bothered me a lot. 


Overall I would give this book a 3.5 stars