Another day, another book review. Today’s review is of Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera.
Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.
Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?
With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself. (Goodreads)
This book was really enjoyable. It is quite a short read but it still makes room for quite a lot of important discussions about feminism, sexuality, embracing sexuality, learning, ethnicity and background. I found this book exuberant, funny and enriching.
I have not read many books with a LGBT perspective or main character, and I really found it interesting to read about a character who is both confident and comfortable in her sexuality, who she is attracted to, who she loves and in her beliefs regarding feminism etc. but is so insecure in terms of her knowledge the LGBT community, feminism, gender pronouns, inter-sectional feminism and more. I found her naivety incredibly endearing and relateable as there are so many things I like to think I believe in and understand, however in reality am probably merely scratching the surface.
“All the moments where I was made to feel like an outsider in a group that was supposed to have room for me added up and left me feeling so much shame.”
I really enjoyed the interactions in this book between Juliet and other women such as Harlowe. This book really tries to celebrate women in all of their forms, different types of relationships (such as poly-amorous), different sexualities and gender identities, periods and more. It also discusses themes such as race, which I found most interesting of all. In this book, Harlowe Brisbane is Juliet’s idol, however as the book goes on different women are introduced and different events occur which highlight the sad reality that there is such a thing as ‘white feminism’ and feminism which isn’t inter-sectional or inclusive, or that feigns being inclusive. This is something which Juliet realises -as a Latina from the Bronx- and which has an effect on how she sees Harlowe and feminism as a whole.
This book was funny and well written, with some extremely quote worthy parts. However, while I enjoyed it immensely I did feel that it could have used some editing in parts, as parts of the plot were slightly clumsy and didn’t feel fully realised. I also feel that to go in depth into every theme which Rivera touches (there are countless which were all so interesting and important) this book could have done with being slightly longer. However, that being said it packs a powerful punch and I’m really glad I read it! It made me feel inspired and comfortable within myself. There is something very relateable about this book and I really liked it.
“All the women in my life were telling me the same thing. My story, my truth, my life, my voice, all of that had to be protected and put out into the world by me. No one else could take that from me. I had to let go of my fear.”
Until next time.