Juliet Takes a Breath
by Gabby Rivera
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 25 Jan 2016 | Archive Date 17 Dec 2017
Riverdale Avenue Books, Magnus
Inga Muscio, author of Cunt
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.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 205 members
Timeless Juliet is a nineteen year old Puerto Rican woman from New York who is contemplating her lesbian identity and looking for her place in the world. She gets an internship with a famous lesbian feminist author, Harper, in Portland. Juliet will be helping her research her new book. With some wonderful and unique people helping her along on her journey give her a lot to think about and learn from. This book is not a quiet read on a lazy, still day. This book will make you think, sometimes so hard it will make your brain want to melt, but its a good thing. I didn’t know, I never even thought about other generations going through the same things, but as I read the struggles Juliet goes through, I remembered my experiences from more than 25 years ago. The questions, passions and desires to KNOW are so timeless. I found that even though Juliet is a self proclaimed chubby, brown girl and I am an older white woman some of the questions, doubts and truths are the same no matter your colour or gender identity and here comes the thinking… Not just for a natural born woman or man, everyone in the LGBT (Etc) community has these thoughts and feelings. Things are more complex now with all the new ways people identify as. It is confusing to me and I can only imagine how much more difficult it is to traverse these waters as newly out. It is so deep and profound, I am not giving it nearly as much justice as the book is due. It is something to be experienced more than I can tell you, you will just have to trust me on this. I can honestly say that I didn’t think I would enjoy the story as much as I did and am very glad that I challenged myself to read it. Thank you Ms Rivera for sharing your story.
Review to come at School Library Journal Adult Books 4 Teens.
I love EVERYTHING about this book! I was hooked from the very first page. Juliet is such a glorious character. I can see how some feel this might be "preachy," but that didn't bother me at all. Most people need to hear what this book has to say, anyway. I laughed, I cried, I gave this book my heart. I want nothing but the best for Juliet!
uliet Takes a Breath is a stunning debut novel by Gabby Rivera that follows Juliet Milagros Pilante as she navigates her way through the world of feminism, radical self-love, coming out, and racism within self-proclaimed "safe spaces." The novel starts off just before Juliet takes off to Portland, Oregon to intern for her favorite author-- a woman named Harlow Brisbane who literally wrote the book on vaginas and feminism. The night before her flight to Portland, she decides to come out to her conservative Puerto Rican family. Even in those few sentences, you can tell that this book has a LOT going on-- and it does, in the best way. I wish I had this book when I was a freshman in college, discovering feminism and self-love. It would have been so incredible to have a narrative from a young woman navigating some of the worlds that I was experiencing for the first time. Moreso, I wish I had it when I was a freshman because it would remind me to acknowledge my white privilege within these spaces and be mindful of it as I navigated these spaces. Although I may be well-intentioned, not acting mindfully and with an intention of respect can have harmful effects on the movement as a whole and others' experiences. The writing within this book was absolutely stunning-- the quotes I copied down took up 5 pages in my Moleskine! I had such writer's envy-- every word Gabby Rivera wrote was heartbreaking and inspiring and breathtaking all at the same time. How is that possible? The only negative about the book was simply that there wasn't enough of it-- I wish that Juliet's summer experience was a bit more thoroughly worked through. There were a few minor storylines that weren't really wrapped up or were too neatly wrapped up. We need more novels like this. We need more of Gabby Rivera's writing. All I can say is wow. 4.5 STARS.
This book has everything: womanist theologians, hot motorcycling librarians, queer of color haircut/pool parties, Afrofuturist writing workshops, heartbreak, joy, self-discovery, and a protagonist you can't fail to love. Rivera's pitch-perfect satire of white cis feminism (honestly I'm still laughing at "Raging Flower by Harlowe Brisbane") clearly comes from a place of fondness, even as she doesn't shy away from portraying the ugliness of white racism and the necessity for queer of color communities. Yet the didactic elements are seamlessly woven in with the character and heart of the story: Juliet feels so real. Every confused queer, babydyke, and aspiring feminist should read this book.
4.5 stars. I love this smart, engaging, diverse novel. This is a gorgeously-written, funny, charming coming-of-age novel. The path Juliet takes trying to figure out how she can fit into queer and feminist communities, as well as into her own family, is heart-breakingly, hilariously wonderful. Highly, highly recommended.
Juliet is a queer Puerto Rican booknerd from the Bronx that spends her summer in Portland interning for an older white feminist writer lady. It's a bit summer adventure/love story, a bit coming of age and a lot cool chick I wish I knew. Thinking back on it, it was almost like the wizard of oz but like super queer and brown and with a Selena/Dixie Chicks soundtrack. Maybe that's short changing it. It's better than that. I will suggest this book to everyone I meet because it feels special. I loved reading it. Juliet is likable as hell. It was refreshing reading about a young woman that likes herself even at the beginning of the story. Juliet sometimes struggles with how she fits into the queer, poc, feminist world but there was never any question of loving herself. I can't wait to read whatever Gabby Rivera comes out with next.
When I was looking through my ‘to read’ list and I noticed that this book has less than 200 pages, I thought that it would be a perfect quick read for Sunday. I was a perfect read, but not as quick as I expected. This book is very intense, so much wisdom about feminism and lives of people of colour is packed into this pages. I was challenged to read about matters that are completely unknown to me, and I loved it. This is definitely why I love to read, I can get to know a person that I might not met otherwise. I got a chance to gain a different perspective on matters of queer POC. I love the language of the book, it's written with so much wit, but sometimes character's dialogs about serious matters looked like copied straight from some books, and did not fit them so well. I really liked Juliet's little brother Lil' Melvin. What a character! All his comments were perfect. And we share love for Twix bars :) And one of the quotes a really liked (there are many more, but this one I especially want to remember): "My story, my truth, my live, my voice, all of that had to be protected and put out into world by me. No one else. No one could take that from me."
Made me laugh and equally tugged on my heart-strings even though I have a blackheart that never feels. This book had me from the very opening when Juliet writes a letter to an author of a feminist book. Hell of a letter. She's a 19 year old chubby, Puerto Rican, lesbian feminist who has only just started to question who she is, where she belongs, and the world around her. Her questions take her to Portland to live with a white feminist hippy in search of where she fits in the feminist movement and LGBTQ movement. This was a great coming of age story that I think reads YA and Adult because a lot of these challenges have nothing to do with age. And my favorite part of the book was Juliet, the complexity of her life, herself, and her openness to learning. Close second was her family.
I really liked this book, and definitely think it's an important read.
This book will be published on January 18th, and if you have not yet done so, I strongly urge you a pre-order it! It is life-changing, wonderful and truly a work of art. Giving a voice to budding lesbian Puerto-Rican budding feminist Juliet, Gabby Rivera adds an impactful NA novel to the sparse canon of non-white, non-straight feminist literature. It is a voice that needed to be written and a voice you need to listen to. I devoured the novel in an evening and was blown away. The narrative is beautiful, the characters quirky, the representation so diverse and important. I was questioning some of my own believes, as well as mentally discussing many issues this books raised. All the while, it is not a dry lecture, but a fun story about growing up and finding your identity, as well. One even I, as a white, straight woman could take lessons away from. There were a few minor issues that I want to address in fairness, but which do not make me change my 5/5 star rating: first of all, my favorite pet peeve of not-explained, not-translated foreign words... Sigh. Moving on. Secondly, Juliet was confused by many words, such as "trans" or "preferred pronouns" or "xe". Yet instead of explaining these immediately, the explanation was pushed back many chapters and then only partially done. And last but not least in the tiny list of things that bothered me: the lack of diversity - yes, hear me out! Why was almost all of Portland and Miami queer? Why were there only two male characters, pushed far from the focus? What would have been wrong with including some genuinely caring, aware-of-their-privilege-and-wanting-to-do-something-about-it male and / or straight and / or white people? And as I am writing this, I am again questioning exactly this demand of mine... am I still part of the problem? Did I not get the message? Am I still full of my own privilege? That is the sort of paradigm shift and thinking this book will make you go through. And that is good, and necessary! This is a novel to read over and over again, to gift to your sister, cousin, daughter, best friend; a novel whole chapters of which I would love to print out and hang on my walls. That sort of amazing novel.
Juliet Takes a Breath is a very powerful feminist piece. It empowers women through Juliet's struggles with her own identity. It sends a beautiful message that you can be big and loud and brash and lesbian and brown and none of that makes you bad or less. The book is written conversationally. It is almost hypnotic. 4/5 stars.
I don’t even understand yet how deeply this novel has empowered me. I didn’t know that I needed this wake-up call until I got it feel onto my lap, and now I’m standing at the end of this beautiful journey in awe of the power in the voice of Juliet. The representation in this book is excellently portrayed and sorely needed. The main character, a WOC Latina that is finding out who she is within the LGBT community. A coming-of-age story where the MC from Bronx goes on an internship with a bestselling feminist in Portland. Self-discovery, insecurities, and finding your voice all get explored in this touching story. In every story, if it exists, the thing that makes it shine brighter is strong female friendships. One that really stood out to me was the sisterhood between Juliet and her cousin Eva. All the time, I was like: “I wish Eva could be my sister.” What she did was she broke things down for Juliet, terms and pronouns and identities, etc. in the LGBT community. She continually supported and stood by Juliet, gave her some of the most helpful advice ever, and showed her the naked truth. Let it be known that I am a big admirer of the bold and empowed Eva. Some of my favorite parts passages where about how the strong women around don’t give a fuck and love fiercely and are trying to be supportive. Seeing all of the life lessons that other people can give and the LGBT inclusive community (there was a specific party) made my eyes almost tear. “It's about women of color owning their own space and their voices being treated with dignity and respect. It's about women of color not having to shout over voices to be heard. We are the dominant force almost all the time. White women are the stars of all the movies. White women are the lead speakers in feminist debates, and it's little white girls that send the nation into a frenzy when they've been kidnapped. ...check your privilege. We're the ones that need to give women of color space for their voices.” This is the most powerful quote about feminism that I have read in such a long time. This stresses the importance of intersectional feminism and how we (white women) need to give the stage for the voices of WOC and be constantly checking our privilege. In my opinion, this is the most valuable lesson that I learned from this novel, and for that I will be forever grateful. **Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy in exchange for my honest review.**
Juliet Takes A Breath is the kind of book that simultaneously kicks you into action and warms your heart. It is the story of a summer in which Juliet, a Puerto Rican girl from the Bronx, discovers a lot about her own identity and others’, a coming of age tale that aggressively runs away from the straight white boy type story epitomised by Holden Caulfield and many after him. It is also a story about friendship, love, and the universe, about understanding the politics of your own self and of other people, and realising that the world may not be exactly as you see it. From its summary, Juliet Takes A Breath promises the kind of novel where the main character’s questions are not always answered, a book where growing up isn’t learning the answers, but learning new questions. This is an accurate impression, as Gabby Rivera leaves Juliet full of possibility, ready to take steps to change or become more herself. As she learns more about the wider LGBT world, intersectional feminism, and racial politics, so can the reader, but the reader can also want to look further, just as Juliet does, as she discovers what relates most to her. A lot of different people contribute their suggestions to what Juliet should do, but she ultimately learns that she has ultimate control over that. The side characters also help to make the novel a heartwarming and funny read, from Juliet’s sweet younger brother Lil’ Melvin to her cousin Ava who is always there to answer her questions about newfound ideas and terminology. This is the kind of book to share with people who you think might need it, whether to feel support and solidarity or to see more in the world.
This is a really good novel.I think a lot of that is because of Juliet's voice. She's beautifully insightful in some moments of the book. She's nerdy and quite funny at times too.Juliet is just a great character and it's great to see how much she develops over the course of this novel in various areas of her life. Juliet goes on a journey throughout the four parts of this book and I didn't really get into the story until further along her journey but all of it is wonderful. Juliet takes this internship and doesn't really know what she wants to get out of the experience. In the end, she got a lot more than she really thought she could. She has a place to move forward from. This book starts out with Juliet in a stressful and relatable time. She's coming out to her family. Juliet decides to do it at a family dinner. I like how much this book dealt with family. Even with Juliet away from them for a majority of the book you could see how important family was. Just from conversations with her mom or cousin Ava over the phone. Sometimes just from Juliet contemplating the way they reacted to things or might react to something. She thinks about her family often and I liked the focus on the family bonds. Juliet meets some amazing women of color in this book. I felt like I was learning from Maxine and Zaira through Juliet's encounters with them in the novel. This is a novel about feminism but more importantly intersectional feminism. Juliet is able to start figuring out where she stands in the feminism she sees on tv or reads in one of her favorite books. I absolutely loved the conversations Juliet has around this. Sometimes as Juliet struggled I just wanted to jump in the book and answer things when she had questions she wasn't asking anyone out loud yet.It takes her a while to feel the confidence needed to do more than just contemplate the tings she didn't understand about queer terms or why Zaira made spaces specifically for women of color. I liked seeing Juliet learn and make mistakes while learning.Her exploration into all things queer and feminism. It was really well done. Sidenote.There is a really odd character who is only in the story for a short time and never appears again and I didn't understand the point of his words toward Juliet and couldn't stop thinking what was the point there or if it was needed.Juliet never really thinks of him again after that section so it didn't feel like it mattered. The most relatable moment in this book for me was a feeling. The feeling that Juliet has when she is in an all QPOC space for the first time. She's freer than she has been able to in a long time.No one is going to judge her or say the wrong thing. She won't have to deal with microaggressions or blatant racism there. She is able to make decisions about how she perceives herself. For me, that was an impromptu caucus for queer people of color at The Midwest Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, and Ally College Conference. It was a room filled with QPOC and a space for us to talk about issues we face separate from all the other events of the conference.I didn't even know there was that many of us in the conference. It was a major moment for me. I was dealing with not being able to embrace all aspects of my identity depending on the situation I was in. I had some rough school years and I feel like that was one of the moments that got me through. It changed things for me.It gave me perspective, I really needed.You see how much Juliet's experience changes her on the final sections of the book.She's able to take on the world after having run away from her problems before that. It's great storytelling.
Juliet leaped off the page as a character. She was completely herself and never once did she let you forget she was a big Puerto Rican lesbian out to explore herself and the world. This book was like nothing I'd ever read before. BURSTING with diversity and social issues and acceptance and exploration. Topics that wove together throughout included: racism, feminism, LGBT, family, and I'm sure I'm leaving out some others. One thing I really liked was that besides the Raging Flower book, everything else checked out as a real reference to a song or book or important woman in history when she's doing her intern work. I leave now knowing what Banana Republic means (yikes) and who Del Martin is (aw yeah). I'm not sure I understood the point of Phen's character, one of the only males, other than to underline her unfamiliarity in a new city... he was a douche. But my only real complaint is that her internship ends rather suddenly in a wrap up of a few pages. I would have liked to see her and Harlowe's relationship evolve, and find out some more badass names for her project. Maybe I just got so sucked into this free, accepting, and loving world, I just wanted to stay a bit longer.
Oh, this book was a delightful breath of fresh air. A queer woman of color dealing with White Feminism and microaggressions and loving herself and learning about being queer. Highly recommend to everyone.
I've never read a book that's this diverse in the most real, down-to-Earth, and casually intersectional kind of way. Juliet's honest and relatable approach to the social justice movement echoes the start of my own journey into activism, and my own personal discovery of what feminism means and how I, as a young nonbinary queer individual, fit into these movements. I was constantly blown backwards by the examinations of feminism, queerness, privilege, and intersectionality in the form of music and literature, as well as navigating safe spaces and figuring out what it means to be inclusive. I feel like I learned something new on every page and grew along with Juliet while reading. At less than 200 pages, Gabby managed to touch me right at the core of my being and leave me feeling like I just woke up inside of myself. I am awed and inspired and ready to give copies of this book out like Halloween candy so I can share this beautiful, life-changing book with the world.
Bronx-born and bred Juliet is getting to grips with her summer internship in Portland, Oregon (where she'll be working for iconic feminist author Hawthorne Brisbane), all while figuring out how to come out to her family, what the hell a preferred gender pronoun is, why she's not getting the answers she wants from White Feminism. Oh, and how to breathe. Juliet Takes A Breath was the queer, Latinx, intersectional feminist coming-of-age novel of my dreams: moving, political, angry, funny, and damn wonderful. Read it!
I loved how witty and wry this book was. It's a great coming of age story with a relatable protagonist. This book covers a lot of important ground covering class, sexuality and race in a very easy to read way. I would happily give this book to any teenager in particular who's trying to find their place in the world.
One thing I really, really loved about this book (and I loved a lot of things about it) was that it kind of just says "fuck it" and does its thing to the fullest. No cutting corners, no slamming the brakes, just a lot of truth. It's the story of Juliet, who's just come out to her family, and now stands before what could be the most important summer in her life. She leaves the Bronx, with her mother in her bedroom refusing to tell her goodbye, and goes to Portland, to assist the feminist icon, Harlowe Brisbane for the summer. Portlan is not at all what Juliet expected. It's full of white, hippy feminists and, not for the first time, Juliet has a hard time feeling at home in a space that is meant to include her. Her summer in Portland is a wake up call, here Juliet learns a lot of hard and beautiful truths about feminism, intersectionality, racism, sexuality and how to be a young, brown Puerto Rican lesbian and a feminist. Because while Harlowe Brisbane's book was Juliet's intro to feminism, Juliet also realizes, the hard way, that the fight they'll have to fight is not always the same for both of them, and even the most well-meaning white, hippy feminist will fail, hurt and disappoint. Sometimes it might feel a little too on the nose, the way it shoves out words and phrases as Juliet learns what gender pronouns, polyamory, intersectional feminism, white allies etc. means. But don't let that deter you, it's still very well worth the read, not only because it gives a much needed perspective on these things. For Juliet it's a whole new world, and as she navigates it, she also slowly comes to accept and understand herself and her place in the world. I thought it was a love story, but it isn't. There's plenty of love in it, and all sorts of it at that, but if it's a love story in anyway, it's a love story in the sense that Juliet ends up in love with herself. It's rather a coming-of-age story, where one asthmatic lesbian finally learns to breathe in her own body. Being nineteen isn't easy, not for anyone I imagine, but even less so for someone who feels like she doesn't fit into any space, where she's supposed to belong. And it's a perfect introduction to anyone young and just learning about feminism, her own body and all the things that perfectly confused so many of us, when we just started out. So buy this book for all the teenagers and young adults in your life, they'll need it. And it's a story told with immense warmth, genuine affection for the characters, and something very important to say. I fell a little in love with Juliet, and all the people she meets on her way (especially her kickass cousin and little brother), and I hope we'll see so much more from the hand of Gabby Rivera.
Gabby Rivera has managed to do something incredible for someone who is just now publishing their first full-length book; her book did not feel like a debut at all. It was a very fresh read, but it was also well-structured, with fully developed, three-dimentional characters, a goal even veterans of the publishing world are still trying to achieve. Rivera's debut novel, "Juliet takes a breath" focuses on Juliet Milagros Palante, a Puerto Rican lesbian, who's just come out to her family and is heading towards Portland, leaving Bronx and her family behind, for a summer internship with the author of her favourite book, Harlowe Brisbane. Without giving too much away, things do not turn out exactly the way Juliet had planned them to, and she finds herself dealing with situations and people she could never possibly imagine meeting. "Juliet takes a breath", is - without a doubt- a book that should not go unnoticed. Juliet's journey isn't just one from Bronx to Portland; it is also a journey of self-discovery and discovering intersectional feminism. (Now, I've called bullshit on the term before, because, for me, feminism is -by definition- intersectional; if it's not intersectional, it's not feminism at all. ) Through Juliet's eyes we get to see her first "contact" with terms such as polyamory, preferred gender pronouns, trans. It is a very interesting and very relatable journey for every feminist, who have found themselves as lost as Juliet, at some point in their lives. Rivera's novel has a brown, thick, lesbian protagonist and it leaves room for learning, growing as a person and familiarizing one's self with 21st-century feminism. One of the things I loved most about the book was its calling out of white feminism. White privilege, acts of racism and microaggressions, poc-safe-spaces, are all topics that are explored in the course of the book. White feminism is a topic that is often unmentioned, mostly because most YA characters that call themselves a feminist are 90% white. In Juliet's case she learns to recognize this kind of behavior for exactly what it is - an act of racism coming from a place of privilege. Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot, not just because of its plot and fast pace, but mostly because of its diverse cast of characters and its portrayal and depiction of modern-day, intersectional feminism.
<i>I don't mean any disrespect, but if you can question the patriarchy, then I can question you.</i> This was an incredible piece of something different. Like, I don't even think I can describe what the heck this book is about. It's magical and powerful. A journey from Feminism 101 to exploring the layers and nuances that come with intersecting identities. Our main character, Juliet, is a young, Puerto Rican, very recently out lesbian who wants to believe there is room in this world for her. The prose gets bogged down with these explanations sometimes, but the whole picture is refreshing <i>How could anything as huge as feminism be universal?</i> The book has a lot of slurs and a few mentions of past assault with some on-the-page microaggressions, so heads up there.
"Can a badass white lady like you make room for me? Should I stand next to you and take that space? Or do I need to just push you out of the way? Claim it myself now so that one day we'll be able to share this earth, this block, these deep breaths?" Juliet Takes a Breath is a wonderful story of a Puerto Rican lesbian. A 19 yo girl who's learning about feminism through her mistakes and other people's mistakes. Juliet is flawed, real, and a little naive to the world. I loved every bit of this. It had been a while a book hadn't touched me like this, finding my fears and aspirations deep inside my soul and opening me up to make me breath again. This is a story we all need. A story that many latinxs will relate to. We grow up sorrounded by all these gringxs telling us how to be, how to speak, how to learn. It's nice to see a latina girl finding her own place and her own voice. This book explores a lot how POC space should be for POC only. And how we white people need to step outside of this sometimes. A wonderful read that will make everyone learn something new about themselves and about other women. "Maybe America just swallowed all of us, including our histories, and spat out whatever it wanted us to remember in the form of something flashy, cinematic, and full of catchy songs. And the rest of us, without that firsthand knowledge of civil unrest and political acts of disobedience, just inhaled what they gave us."
“Read everything you can push into your skull. Read your mother’s diary. Read Assata. Read everything Gloria Steinem and bell hooks write. Read books about your body written by people who have bodies like yours. Read everything that supports your growth as a vibrant, rebel girl human. Read because you’re tired of secrets.” I can’t even bring myself to name all of the reasons why I love this book. If I did, I would probably have to write an entire essay, which, honestly, I wouldn’t have minded doing a year ago while working on my Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies minor. That’s because this book is an incredibly diverse and feminist YA novel, about a girl who struggles to find where she belongs. The novel unapologetically tackles many topics, from the importance of intersectionality to the underlying racism of white feminism, making it an absolute standout novel in YA that should be on everyone’s required reading list. Here are just some of the reasons that make Juliet Takes a Breath phenomenal: It’s intersectional! The main positive of this novel is how incredibly diverse it is from page one, written by a queer woman of color, for queer women of color. Its protagonist, Juliet, is a Puerto Rican girl from the Bronx who is also gay, and reading the story through her perspective is like a breath of fresh air. The novel is so rich with Puerto Rican culture, from the way Juliet describes her neighborhood and her life back home to the way she interacts with her family to the Spanish words embedded throughout. The story isn’t just intersectional in this way, though. Juliet ends up writing to the author of a popular feminist book, expressing how she wants to belong in feminism but often feeling like feminism is mostly just for white women. In response, the author–the illustrious Harlowe Brisbane–offers her an internship in Portland, Oregon, where Juliet learns more about intersectionality and feminism than she could ever imagine, and how the two correspond with her identity as a queer WOC. This book is such a good education on feminism and intersectionality, and weaves the two together so well throughout the story, showing how reliant each is on the other. On being a good white ally… With this, the driving theme of the novel focuses on the problematics and underlying racism of White Feminism. The novel frequently addresses the demand for POC women to have their own space, one where white allies don’t speak up over POC, and teaches others how to be a good white ally in general… and how not to be. One of the prime examples of this is in Harlowe herself, who is a typical hippy feminist white lady and who, like many white feminists, praises feminism and women-loving yet misses the mark on sitting back to let women of color speak about their distinct oppressions. This comes up throughout the novel, but her biggest blunder comes when, during a reading, she uses Juliet as an example for why she’s not racist, basically using the ol’ “I’m not racist, I have a Puerto Rican friend” card. She then went on to paint Juliet as a poor Puerto Rican who managed to escape the terrible, crime-ridden, violent neighborhood in the Bronx to be taken in under Harlow’s wing, even though Juliet didn’t really tell Harlowe anything about her life back home. Needless to say, Juliet learns to find her voice and tell Harlowe that this was in no way okay for Harlowe to do to her. This perfectly highlights to feminists how to not use POC as a token to make themselves and their feminism look better It addresses “Mansplaining” and why it’s extremely obnoxious. Okay, so there’s this super nauseating male character in the book named Phen, who acts extremely know-it-all and superior over Juliet the second he meets her, completely going out of his way to patronize her and let her know that she doesn’t truly belong. Seriously, I hated him like nothing else. He is the most venomous, toxic male “ally” that all feminists should avoid at all costs. When they first meet, Phen is naked in Harlow’s house (for some reason??), and when Juliet is noticeably uncomfortable at first, Phen acts offended and scoffs, Oh I’m sorry, does my naked body BOTHER YOU? (**Um, yes, you asshole. You’re a male and, having that privilege, can’t even understand the connotations of a dominating male body invading the personal space of a woman. Literally, shut up.) Following this, Phen only continues to exert his dominance by throwing out feminist terms that Juliet isn’t yet familiar with, almost taunting her with them and using them as a weapon to show how much he knows more than her. At one point, he even questions whether she belongs in Portland and whether she’s truly gay. People like Phen are exactly what can go wrong with male allies, who make it more about themselves than about actually supporting women, and the book highlights this problematic behavior really well. And with that… …it conveys the message that it’s okay to not know everything there is to know about feminism, and that this doesn’t make you any less of a feminist. This is such an important aspect of the book. Going from the Bronx to Portland, it feels like a completely different world to Juliet, and there’s so much she feels she has to learn. But rather than scoff at her and make her feel bad when Juliet asks questions, Harlowe and many others encourage Juliet to continually learn, to question, and to figure out what feminism means to her. And this is what feminism should be about. It can often feel daunting coming fresh into feminism, especially depending on where you live in the world and what you identify as. There’s so much to learn and take in. Along with this, feminism means different things to different people. There’s no one way to be a feminist. And so I really commend the author for showing readers this through Juliet’s own personal journey. Some other things I liked about this book… It paints a realistic coming out experience, where the parents are neither completely accepting at first nor completely unloving. Just before leaving Portland, Juliet spontaneously decides to come out to her family. While most everyone else is okay with it, her mother takes it harder. While Juliet does her internship in Portland, she misses her mother yet simultaneously feels that her mom doesn’t truly understand her. Each time they speak over phone, they both feel a disconnect, that the other isn’t really hearing the other’s point of view. But over the course of this novel, Juliet and her mom gradually begin to open up to each other, showing that their relationship is stronger than anything. I think with coming out stories, we’re so used to vilifying the parents who don’t always accept or understand their child’s sexuality right off. But it’s important to be aware that there are other coming out experiences that are more complicated and full of grey areas… and more importantly, this doesn’t always make these kinds of parents “bad parents.” When we vilify parents and coming out stories like these, it takes all of the learning and growth and underlying love out of the parents’ relationship with their child, something this book brings to light and works to develop really well. I love how in the end Juliet’s mom admits she’s still not all the way there yet, but that she’s trying, which just shows how much she really loves her daughter and wants their relationship to be okay. 💜 It centers around learning to navigate the cultural differences when traveling somewhere new, while always feeling like a part of you is still back home. I thought this was a really compelling theme in the novel. The story begins with Juliet dreaming of leaving the Bronx, certain that things must be better beyond it. But as soon as she’s in Portland, Juliet feels like she’s plunged into a completely different world, one where there aren’t as many people that look like her, which makes her miss her home back in the Bronx. As the story progresses, Juliet realizes that, despite being in Portland, there’s a certain amount of racism there, too, even in her mentor, which really challenges her worldview and what she thought she knew. I thought this was a really eye-opening turning point, as it just shows how racism is everywhere. We can pretend that it’s better in some places, but we also can’t be blind to the ways that racism still exists, even when disguised in various shapes and forms. Along with this, I liked how being in Portland just made Juliet that much more appreciative of where she came from. There’s a point later on in the story when Juliet’s on her own and a bit turned around in the city. She takes a bus, only to find that it’s full of people like her—people of color, from Black to Puerto Rican. She’s so happy in this moment to finally be among other people who look and sound like her, to feel transported back to the Bronx, that she decides to stay in it for as long as long as she can, taking the bus all the way to the last stop and back again. I thought this was such a nice little silver lining for Juliet that served as a moment of peace and comfort for her, to remind her that no matter where she is, home is never too far away. * * * Like I said, there were so many things I loved about this book and so many important takeaways that I thought the author integrated so well; if I were to discuss every one of them, I might as well write an essay. (Can I? Please??) This novel blew me away, and I’m so thankful for it and for the author to have written such a vibrant character like Juliet Palante. If anything, I hope this novel inspires all of the Juliets of the world. I hope it encourages them to go out into the world, to explore and discover who they are, and to make their voices heard, at the top of their lungs.
I loved this book. Juliette was a tough character but loveable. I though the whole book lady thing and her book were a bit explit though. I learnt a lot about gender in this book. A good read
From the second page I was completely hooked. So far "Juliet Takes a Breath" is definitely my favourite book this year and it will be a tough one to beat. It deals with the nuances and intersectionality of Queer culture in a straightforward yet interesting way and is filled with a variety of wonderful moment varying from humorous through to touching and thought-provoking. I connected with the characters in ways that i didn't expect but loved wholeheartedly. "Juliet Takes a Breath" is not afraid to question the world and the people in it, it is unapologetic and demands that the rest of the world rise to its level rather than sinking down to theirs. It is a book that has turned out to mean much more to me than I ever anticipated, and I look forward to reading Gabby Rivera's further fictional works.
Great book for teens struggling with self love and conflicting feelings of acceptance with friends, family and themselves. Empowerment is a strong heady feeling which should be shared by all
This is one of my new favorite books. It is beautiful and magical and I read it all in one sitting (because I couldn't put it down). Juliet is a magnificent character and so are all of the other complex and real characters in this novel. I highlighted at least 1/4 of this book because there were so many passages that I adored. This is one that is difficult to review beyond incoherent adoration and a demand that everyone read it. ❤ (Longer review on my blog)
From page one I knew that this book and I would become friends. I can't describe it better than that it feels like a warm hug! This story follows Juliet Milagros Palante, a Latina asthmatic lesbian with anxiety problems. There's a special place in my heart for characters who are allowed to exist with more than one label. Because sometimes us disabled lesbians need to be able to read stories about other people like us, instead of having to choose a disabled or a lesbian character. On top of being entertaining and moving, Juliet Takes A Breath is a highly informative novel. It is definitely going to widen many readers’ minds, and educate them on queerness, religion, race, gender, intersectionality, polyamory, and the importance of proper communication in relationships.
Already looking forward to Gabby Rivera's next book. The main character Juliet Milagros Palante takes readers on a journey from her home in the Bronx, where she just came out to her family, to an internship with a hippy author of a Pussy Power book in Portland, OR. Juliet is a great character and takes a lot in, meeting new people and learning new things (What respecting one another means in intercultural relationships, being lesbian/queer, what polyamory is, and what it means to feel at home and affirmed.) There is a lot of she learns about the world and communities (Intersectionality specifically regarding race/ethnicity and LGBTQ) and about herself as it is happening. Not only is she kick ass, but the other characters is the book grapple with their relationships and the challenges they experience without blowing up and cutting others off. There is a lot of respect, which gives this book a feel-good tone, even if you suspect in real life people wouldn't have been so civil.
This book was simply amazing. I wasn't sure, after reading the description, if it would fall a bit flat, given that it is set in 2002, or if it would seem a bit preachy. It was neither. Juliet is a well-crafted character, full of life, wonder, curiosity, and hope. She popped off the page, asking all of the questions I had as a young queer woman just a few years before her. Her quest to find the intersection of feminism, gender, sexuality, and race was realistic, heart-wrenching, and emotionally fulfilling. The characters, situations, and dialogue never seemed forced; even the unexpected-but-once-it-happened-totally-expected "twist" didn't seem out of place, rushed, shoe-horned in, or otherwise "written" - this was a text that will feel real and authentic to the students who encounter it, and it is one that I will recommend wholeheartedly. I look forward to more from this brilliant author!
REPRESENTATION MATTERS The coming-of-age genre can be monotonous, after awhile. First it was mostly boys in heartwarming narratives that left them indelible in American iconography. Then some novelists and scriptwriters created a spin on the same stories, only this time with girls. Sometimes these stories were injected with some authenticity of the femme experience and sometimes they forgot to change perspectives, like a bad gender-bending copy-and-paste. Then there are stories from diverse groups that broke up the monotony with the very fact that coming-of-age as a non-white person is different than the prevailing picture. The coming-out genre suffered a bit of the same problems, though their very nature was a departure from the mainstream. These stories matter, the genre matters. We all tend to read/view these stories and immediately draw contrasts and parallels to our existence. It soothes, comforts, and even validates us in some ways to know we are not so different, but sometimes the absence of us in stories alienates us even further…invalidates us. Where was my young, lesbian, brown, weirdo self? Did she really exist? Did anyone know or care? What would my future look like if my present was so taboo? SAFE SPACES No one is expected to have all the answers and artfully spin it into an all encompassing, inclusive, and intersectional tale. Sometimes young queers don’t need generic answers to their very unique set of questions, but rather diverse examples of ways to be. To quote Frida Kahlo, “I think that little by little, I’ll be able to solve my problems and survive.” In comes Juliet Takes a Breath. Juliet Milagros Palante is not out to be your “model minority.” She’s just daring to figure out who she is and be herself. I wish I had this book back when I was 15, living in the Bible Belt, listening to Ani DiFranco and Meshell Ndegeocello, wondering if it ever truly would get better. I’m glad the youth have it now, actually, I’m glad I have it now. LGBTQ+, feminism, intersectionality, theodicy, QWOC, …what does it all mean and where do I fit? Juliet journeys to answer these questions for herself . She meets some gentle humans that are willing to help her find the answers, and she also meets some who judge her lack of term awareness and conclude she’s not really all that down. Safe spaces are found in the strangest places. “[This book] should be for everybody I think everybody should read this book, BUT . . . [awkward, frizzy-haired, chubby, brown girl] out of all the shit in this world that is not made for you, this is the thing that is made for you and it comes with love and it comes with me honoring you just as you are…”- Gabby Rivera for GayWrites
I loved Juliet, her experiences, her relationships, her growth. The characters were excellent all around. One thing that took away from the story a bit was that sometimes the messages were so overt it felt a bit like sitting in a lecture. I think they could have been woven into the story a bit more. Still, a very enjoyable read.
"Feminism. I’m new to it. The word still sounds weird and wrong. Too white, too structured, too foreign: something I can’t claim." Though this is the opening of the book, it sets a tone that defines the rest of the novel. It is a rare book that from the very beginning I can feel it sinking into my bones, but that is exactly what this felt like. And despite the fact that I kept worrying maybe that feeling would go away, I was entranced from beginning to end, and sobbed through the epilogue. This is a book that has power. And a book that will stay with me. Juliet is a 19-year-old Puerto Rican lesbian from the Bronx who goes to be an intern for a hippy white feminist in Portland, and who also happens to have written Juliet's favorite book. It is a book about pussy power. But fear not, those worrying (as I did) about the cissexist nature of that book: it is called out frequently in the latter half of the novel! Just as so many other things are. In Portland, Juliet is part of an incredibly queer community. The number of queer women around at all times in this novel was impossible to ignore and it made my heart sing. Queer women of color, specifically, were essential in Juliet coming to understand the terminology she needed to define her own identity and to help offer new definitions of feminism and queer identity that can feel more inclusive to her. It feels rare to experience such visibly queer spaces in books. Not just queer spaces that happen in one scene, but a constantly queer environment that is full of support but also critique and questioning of white feminist structures. Beyond the presence of queer spaces, there is also so much emphasis on POC-only spaces and the importance that they have. Over and over again, the bullshit complaints of white feminists are shot down and intersectionality is emphasized, explained, and made the most important part of the feminism Juliet is trying to learn. A feminism that includes her, in all her Puerto Rican lesbian glory. Not to continue gushing, but some of my other favorite moments include: an entire chapter dedicated to making the period a celebrated experience, the strained but intensely loving relationship between Juliet and her mother, the entire chapter entitled "Ain't No Party Like an Octavia Butler Writer's Workshop", girls flirting, close family relationships, mini history lessons about amazing forgotten women of color, and about a hundred other things. OH OH OH and I almost forgot: the almost embarrassing amount of realism that queer women become completely useless in the presence of other beautiful lady-identified individuals. Every time Juliet saw a fabulous queer lady and lost the ability to speak or spit out coherent sentences I was on another planet of joy. This is the coming of age story of a fierce, funny, nerdy, chubby, intelligent Latina. It was breathtaking and sharp, full of so much goodness I know I'll be able to find new things again and again. It acts as an intro for those who don't know queer and feminist terminology, but also serves as a critique of the whiteness of those structures if you already do. It is ownvoices and vibrant and incredible. I'm begging you to read it.
A couple of years ago if you’d like to read a book about lesbians you’d have to search very hard or just end up with Sappho who wrote around 600 years BC! Today we have a growing list of queer authors and authors who write queer characters The world is finally starting to understand why not only queer people but everyone else too needs to see different sexualities represented in media. The story starts with a quote from an author enthusiastic about “empowering the pussy” which is a very transphopic approach to feminism but it gets better, I promise. The main character, from whose perspective we see the world that surrounds her is a lesbian woman at a very sensitive moment in her life since she’s coming out to her family. Things don’t go as well as planned but there’s a great opportunity for her in the future, an internship with the woman who wrote the most important book in her life. Also, Juliet has a girlfriend and their relationship seems a little strange from the beginning (the girlfriend not being very affectionate) but that’s just may be because she’s still a closeted woman. "Feminism. I’m new to it. The word still sounds weird and wrong. Too white, too structured, too foreign: something I can’t claim." This is a novel about feminism from the perspective of a lesbian of colour, which makes it very important. It’s a celebration of life in all its forms and it’s essential for women to read this kind of fiction. In the beginning it may seem to you like the writing is slow and that the author is trying to put as many information as can but soon it become a story about growing up and accepting yourself, when even your family has problems with who you are. This character is crucial in this world. I hope people give this book the recognition it deserves.
This book was seriously laugh out loud funny. I want to be friends with Juliet, her voice was so funny, poignant and compelling. Our protagonist is a young Puerto Rican woman from the Bronx who travels to Portland to intern for a crunchy, white hippie who wrote a Cunt-esque, pussy-power manifesta, and it is through this mentor's fairly limited but ultimately "well-meaning" perspective that Juliet begins to identify with and define her own feminism. The limitations of privileged, white feminism are portrayed really well through the novel, not just through Juliet's mentor but through Juliet's own experiences in an exceedingly white city. When Juliet is introduced to spaces carved out purely for people of color she is allowed to flourish and experience herself more freely without being blinded by whiteness. This was a quick read, and a really fun one. I really want to continue to follow Juliet and experience her growing into herself as described by the author's vibrant and critical language. We need so many more Juliets in our books.
I'm finally writing the review for this marvellous book. I received a copy of the fantastic book via Netgalley for an honest review. Juliet, a Puerto Rican lesbian, came out to her parents on the last evening before she flies from New York to Portland for an internship with a famous white female author while figuring out herself. I won't tell you more about the content now because I don't want to spoil you. But I must say I've read this book in 1 sitting. It was so perfect. We have a queer WOC as main character. Character like her are so rarely featured in books. Furthermore, the book deals with feminism plus criticises white feminism. And the best: it's ownvoices. It's written by a queer Latina!
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. Wow, questo libro è stato un viaggio incredibile sia per la protagonista, Juliet, che per me, alla scoperta di sé, di cosa si desidera diventare, di cosa significa famiglia, amore, femminismo, identità e altre mille cose che compongono il nostro mondo e noi stessi. Per me è stato terribilmente affascinante vedere di prima mano la vita di qualcuno così lontano da me per certi aspetti, ma anche così vicino. Juliet è una ragazza che pensa di aver trovato un porto sicuro, dopo aver conquistato la sua cotta, Laini, e aver ottenuto un tirocinio presso la sua scrittrice femminista preferita, Harlowe, nonostante proprio queste cose l'abbiano spinta a rompere il non detto in famiglia e a rivelarsi come lesbica. Non pensa affatto che non troverà rifugio a casa del suo idolo, ma l'inizio di una serie di domande che la porteranno a cambiare la sua visione del mondo e di se stessa. E' molto realistica con la sua famiglia, il forte legame con il fratello e la cugina, per non parlare delle zie e della madre, che sono sempre lì per lei nonostante le incomprensioni e i fraintendimenti. Il rapporto con la cittadina di Portland è terribilmente difficile, soprattutto all'inizio, e mi sono immedesimata nel suo sentirsi sperduta e abbandonata in un posto sconosciuto con persone ignote. Inoltre la sua crescita spirituale avviene in maniera anche drammatica, con grossi dubbi, messe in discussione e pretese di spiegazioni e di scuse verso chi l'ha offesa. E' stato rinfrescante vedere come impara pian piano a farsi valere e a capire chi vuole essere e cosa vuole fare, senza affidarsi totalmente agli altri. Forse per reggere una simile storia si è dovuto obbligatoriamente forzare un po' la realtà, disegnando Portland come la Mecca di hippie, femministi, hipster e LGBT+, quindi capisco e passo sopra, ma altre cose, come il fatto che Juliet non abbia altri amici oltre alla cugina o che, pur abitando a New York e avendo a disposizione internet, non sappia cose come la pansessualità o la questione dei pronomi.
This book was "bad azz" (and I mean that in the best way possible)!!! Funny, so real, and chock full of real emotions. I really enjoyed reading this book and I couldn't put it down until I finished. I want more from Gabby Rivera!
Let’s get the negatives out of the way first: this book is fairly plotless. Despite Juliet Takes' A Breath's short length, I found myself bored for most of the first half. However, my disapointment at the plot was outshined by my love for pretty much everything else. The character work here is sublime. Juliet is a funny but believable protagonist. Her emotional journey was easy to connect with, and I’m sure it will be for anyone who feels disenfranchised in society. This is Juliet's specific journey as a lesbian woman of color, and the author makes that very clear. It’s amazing that Rivera managed to make this journey so specific yet so universal. The side characters shined here too. All were complex and developed, even in very little pagetime. I feel like I know these women. I feel like Gabby Rivera knows these women. I was just incredibly impressed by the amount I connected to this story. The integration of social issues here was also amazing. I’ve never read a book that represented so many issues so well! There’s a focus on lgbt issues, on women’s issues, on how women’s issues and trans issues need to be connected, and on racism issues. It’s revolutionary that this book got published by an agency. Juliet would be proud. I almost wish Juliet’s brave women heroes had been integrated more into the latter half of the book. It seemed like an amazing concept that almost got abandoned. I understand why it happened, though; there was a lot to resolve in the latter half. Again, the pacing needed a little editing. This book definitely comes highly recommended, and thanks again to the publisher for sending me this arc!
Absolutely breath-taking and captivating, Juliet Takes a Breath is poignant and powerful. It is a book that stays with its reader long after the initial read.
I finished this book in one sitting. Just couldn't put it down! I haven't read a book that packs such a powerful punch in so few pages. I knew this book was clearly out of my comfort zone when I picked it up. I have very limited knowledge of the Bronx, of the immigrant Puerto Rican community, of hippies in Portland and of LGBTQ individuals. This book was eye opening in all aspects. In short, the book is about Juliet, a Bronx resident of Puerto Rican descent. She comes out as lesbian to her family a few hours before she boards a plane to leave Bronx for the first time and intern with a white hippie author from Portland, Oregon. The summer is a time for self discovery for Juliet. Juliet's character was so well defined! It was a really good book overall.
I felt that this book was a very honest coming of age story about a young woman coming to terms with who she is within the world as a lesbian Latina feminist, and what all those labels mean, and how she can affirm who she is for herself, an individual within the world. She walks away with so many lessons from so many different experiences and people, and I really liked how this book explored what it means to be a WoC feminist and what it means to be a PoC (or WoC) and be queer. While I am not a WoC I felt it easy to identify with a lot of Juliet's journey as she grows into her own person as a feminist and a queer woman.
4.5 stars. The prologue alone was enough to make this entire book worthwhile. The MC was feisty and charismatic. She was fierce in one moment and vulnerable in the next. The author cleverly allowed her to feel ALL the feelings of a late teenager just starting school. She 'knows' everything and 'knows' nothing. She's so sure of herself and deeply needs the love and acceptance of her family, some of whom need some time to get to know this new (and newly out) Juliet. The prose was masterful, especially in the beginning. The only downside was the inclusion of all the Lesbian/Queer 101 information that slows the tempo of the book. And for something that starts to whippy, snappy, clever, and fast, this change is noticable. Then again, this is a question of who the book is meant for. For someone like me, who has lived through it and reads lots of coming out/coming of age novels, it's old hat (though to look at Juliet's hat is refreshing). For allies who haven't been through it, it could be helpful. For a kid coming out, this could be life-saving. I wish I didn't mean that literally. Really, truly -- I highly recommend this one and will very likely read it again.
This was such an amazing book. It seemed so small yet held so much! It talked about everything possible! Poly relationships, different pronouns, learning, teaching, allies, the whole of the LGBTQ+ community, racism. It helped me learn some new things too and I'm so grateful I had the chance to read this! I cannot say it enough, but read this book!!!
This book started kind of slow but became very good once the story started. It is an important book to read for every young woman to better understand what feminism is why it is so important. The author drew such a great picture with the characters and made them each very personable. However, I think my favorite part of the book was how "love" was portrait. It didn't just describe romantic love but also friendship and family love. Gabby Rivera has a special way to talk about love and what it means to the characters. I would definitely recommend this book.
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review (and boy am I glad they let me have this book). It did not take me long to get through it but I wanted there to be so much more. “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.” Juliet Takes a Breath is an unapologetic, beautiful book about a young Puerto Rican queer woman from the Bronx who spends a summer in Portland, Oregon interning for a hippy queer white lady who wrote her favorite book all about “the power of the pussy”. But fear not, there is some major calling out later in the book about cissexist thinking. So anyone worried about that, it turns out good. I’d also like to just get it out there that while I am a queer lady I am a queer white lady so just keep that in mind with my review of a very PoC centric book. First of all, I’ve never felt so represented as a queer lady who is completely useless when I see a pretty girl. Just to get that out of the way. When I see a pretty lady I can’t articulate or really talk at all and Juliet is just like that. I love her. This book really emphasizes the importance of PoC only spaces, especially within the queer community. Juliet is super new to the queer scene, and it really comes through in the writing. There are a couple points in the book where she gets overwhelmed with all the new information being thrown at her and she feels like she shouldn’t be asking what terms mean because all the people around her are “fluent in queer” (the words of a good friend of mine, not the book). I also really loved how the book was written. Stylistically, it sounds a lot like how people talk and I really dig that. Although I could have done with less “yo’s” at the end of sentences, yo. Some of my favorite moments in this book included “sacred period ritual kits,” an entire chapter titled “Ain’t No Party Like an Octavia Butler Writer’s Workshop,” all the wonderful girl flirting, and really at this point I’m going to list the entire book so I’ll just leave you with a few of my favorite quotes to tide you over while you go get your copy of this book. “Reading would make me beautiful, but writing would make me infinite.” “Always ask first and then kiss the way stars burn in the sky.”
This book has been on my TBR for months. I loved it. It is so intersectional it makes my little heart so happy. Juliet is Puerto Rican, brown, chubby, lesbian, and writer. She is beautiful and if you want to read about someone figuring out what it means to be who she is, then this is for you. Juliet grew up in the Bronx with her Puerto Rican mother, father, brother, and assortment of aunts. Juliet feels her life change when she reads Raging Flower by Harlowe Brisbane, a feminist extraordinaire that encourages women to explore themselves (physically, emotionally, and socially), just what Juliet needs to encourage her to come out to her family and make public her relationship with Lainie. Now Juliet has landed in Portland, a place full of white hippies that worship Harlowe, the women who offered her an internship for the summer. Juliet hopes this summer will magically help her find herself. It just doesn’t happen as she expects. Diversity: +21 Race/Ethnicity: +1 (Author), +3 (PoC main characters) Culture: +3 (Puerto Rican) Gender: +1 (Author), +3 (Women and feminism), +1 (Discusses Trans and Cis) Physical Disabilities: +1 (Glasses) LGTQ+: +5 (obviously) Socioeconomic status: +3 What I liked: -Juliet is Puerto Rican. She’s Latina. Even though we’re different kinds of Latinas, so much of her family dynamic reminded me of my own. The food, the family, what a beautiful brown, Latina life. I loved how she found her roots and not once felt bad about her heritage. I loved how she tried to balance the values she grew up with and who she is. Her relationship with her mother made me want to call my own mother. Beautiful. -The intersectionality. Seriously, I found myself cheering out loud every time someone got called out for their insensitivity. I love how Juliet learns about feminism, and white feminism, and queer people of color, and how it’s not the same kind of movement. She is learning how she fits within her family, her (small liberal arts) college life, white-hippie-Portland, and empowered-Miami-cousin. Juliet isn’t perfect, she’s learning which makes this that much more poignant. -Descriptions of positive, healthy, relationships of all shapes and sizes without shying away from negative aspects. There are monogamous relationships and polyamorous relationships. Lesbians and bisexuals. Trans people with proper pronoun usage. Unabashedly sex positive. First loves and crushes and kisses under the stars. -Body positivity. So many different bodies and all beautiful. -One day, we’ll read books about PoC and queer characters that don’t spend time explaining terminology because we’ll all know it. One day, we’ll just get stories where they exist and thrive. I’m excited for that day.
FINALLY- A book with likeable characters, great person of colour representation, queerness, feminism...and it's brilliantly written with a super heartwarming story that'll suck you in so you can't put it down. Brilliant! Juliet Takes a Breath is the coming-of-age story of Juliet Palante, a Puerto Rican teenager who lives in the Bronx with her madcap family. She discovers feminism through the book 'Raging Flower: Empowering Your Pussy By Empowering Your Mind' by Harper Brisbane (which she reads to freak people out on the subway) and, after writing to the author to tell her how much she enjoyed it (despite not really recognising herself in the text) lands an internship to help Harper research her next book. Moving to Portland, Oregon gives Juliet a total culture shock and living with Harper exposes her to a completely different way of life. She uses the opportunity to learn about being gay, being a person of colour, being female and being a feminist, all whilst trying to figure out who she is and trying to get her family to accept her. Nothing major then. I really loved reading this book. There's such great, positive representation and a brilliantly written story which taught me so much about other cultures, history, oppression, feminism, my own body... I could go on. It's really well written, interesting, funny and sweet without being overly saccharine or having a happily ever after ending that ends up in so much current YA literature. I loved the main character Juliet, who was bold and strong but also scared and vulnerable at times. She felt very 'real' to me and despite our many differences I identified with her as a chubby, queer nerd girl who finds safety in the confines of a library. Her family members were all amazing, especially her brother cousin and aunt and I loved reading about how close they all were and supported each other no matter what. I initially really liked Harper, the hippy writer who acted as a kind of queer feminist Yoda to aid Juliet in her voyage of discovery, but my opinion of her changed as the book went on. I loved the way that the two characters were so different and the way that Harper exposed Juliet to so many new experiences, but I hated the way that she made so many assumptions about Juliet and in the end I thought she was actually quite self centered. Through Juliet's journey (literally and figuratively) the reader gets to learn so much about topics that you were afraid to ask about - from periods to polygamous relationships to white privilege. Every topic is handled sensitively and the writing is never preachy, only informative. There is an awful lot in the book about racism and the differences between being a white feminist lesbian and a person of colour feminist lesbian which I hadn't really considered before. I'm not sure if this is my white privilege or because I'm British but I'm not used to people talking about their race all the time or referring to themselves expressly by their heritage. Some of the ideas discussed made me a little uncomfortable, like a racist slur said about Juliet's white girlfriend and a POC only party but through the character of Juliet the ideas are often questioned and both the positives and negatives are discussed. Because the main character is Latino it was really interesting to view feminism and lesbianism through her eyes - how it fitted in with her religion, her traditional family, her views on men, her experience of privilege, her sense of self etc. This was a viewpoint that I hadn't read from before and I thought it was executed brilliantly. My only criticisms of the novel would be that I think it's a little unrealistic for almost every character that Juliet encounters or knows to be gay and that perhaps a few straight people would have added another dynamic. I also felt that the negative way in which every white person was portrayed was a little unfair - although heaven knows there's enough books out there where the only black character is a villain/token gesture/non-existent so maybe the author was just trying to redress the balance. Overall I loved reading this book and would recommend it to anyone looking to explore feminism and queerness from a different perspective, or just anyone looking for some great intersectional YA.
I LOVED this book. It started off as a love letter to the white lesbian feminist scene of the early aughts: Ani DiFranco, the thinly veiled novel celebrating genitalia, mix CD's. From there, the book truly blossoms into a coming of age novel which examines who your heroes are, Whiteness and language, who your allies are, how you deserve to be treated, Puerto Rican identity, and who you are. This is a book I wish was around when I was younger. I highly recommend any feminist or activist to read it.
I read this book more than a month ago so unfortunately, I can’t really remember all the details, I hope I’m not going to forget anything! Juliet is a Puerto Rican girl who lives in the Bronx during the 2000s. She’s a closeted lesbian and doesn’t know anything about the LGBTQIA+ community and she discovered feminism because of a book, Raging Flower, written by Harlowe Brisbane. In very little time, this book took a huge place in her life, so she decided to write a letter to the author, asking her for an internship during summer so she could learn more about feminism and what it really means. For her biggest surprise, Harlowe accepts and so Juliet leaves the Bronx to go to Portland. But before her departure she has to do one last thing: she decides to come out to her family. What I really loved about this book is that it’s not a romance story. Yes there’s some romance but this isn’t the main subject. I think this more a story about family and how it can be important. I really loved Juliet, I think it’s great to have a Puerto Rican main character. I love that she has curves and is proud of that. She loves her body, her breasts, the way she looks. She wants to understand what it means to be a lesbian, she wants her mother to accept her, to be proud of her. She’s also trying really hard to understand, to be part of a community she doesn’t feel belonging to. She’s also asthmatic and it’s always great to have this kind of representation. I feel like asthmatic people in books are always the nerdy or weak people but Juliet is a strong woman and having troubles breathing is absolutely not the main subject, it’s part of her life but doesn’t dictate it. This summer is one of the most decisive of her life and I’m not going to explain more because I don’t want to spoil anything but I love the way the story is told, the way she thinks when she sees her girlfriend, the questions she asks herself about her future, the doubts she has about her family, her life. The reason I loved this book so much is because of all the subjects the author is talking about and there’s so many that I’m actually going to make a list: – Harlowe Brisbane is in a polyamorous relationship. – This book is calling out white feminism. – It’s also calling out racism, and how it can comes in any forms. Just because you’re a white woman fighting for feminism doesn’t mean you can’t say racists things, even though you didn’t realized it at the moment. – There’s a whole chapter about periods. This may disturb some of you but periods are kinda taboo in literature so I’m always loving it when periods are mentioned. Girls have it once a month and yet nobody feel like talking about it, so can you imagine a whole chapter? – Since Juliet knows nothing about the LGBTQIA+ community, her cousin explains to her some of the words and also talks about genders and the pronouns. (Let me share with you an important quote: « Whatever pronouns a person chooses, if they choose any at all, are their right. Not a fucking preference. ») I may forget some things and I’m really sorry because I feel like I can talk for hours about this book. I loved how it made me feel good but also laugh so hard at some parts and since summer is coming soon, I think this read is perfect. It’s a light read but with heavy and important subjects.
Actual rating: 4.5 <I><b><u>"Feminism. I’m new to it. The word still sounds weird and wrong. Too white, too structured, too foreign: something I can’t claim."</I></b></u> So I received this ebook from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review, so thanks for accepting my request, Net Galley! So we follow Juliet, who scores an internship over the summer with a big feminist author, and whilst on this trip she learns more then she bargained for. She understands things about society, feminism, love and heartbreak, lesbianism and queer acceptance, and she essentially finds herself, or the person she wants to be, along the way. Wow, I feel so privileged and connected to intersectional feminism having read this book. It was so raw and thought provoking, and unapologetically feminist. I'm in love. Juliet was a gorgeous character who you root for from the first page, and her growth was exquisitely presented. Firstly, I'd like to discuss the class A representation. IT WAS AMAZING?!? An #OwnVoices novel, discussing intersectional feminism and social constraints and expectations AND I LOVED IT. From the inclusion of racial differences and belief, to sexualities and completely deconstructing harmful stereotypes, this was jam-packed with a glorious awareness of social justice. One thing I'd like to note is something Emma from @emmmabooks pointed out in a video a few years ago. Sex in YA is huge, and such an overdone plot device within the genre, some romance stories literally centre around a loss of virginity, or a couples first time etc. Not this one. This was a lesbian story about a Puerto Rican girl who was not a virgin and had sex because she wanted to, not because some part of the social stratum says that she should. YES, YOU GO JULIET. This book exemplifies the myth of a 'perfect feminist'; there is no such thing, human mistakes are made and accounted for and this doesn't lessen the importance of the characters because of these mistakes, but contributes to humanity's inevitable flaws. Harlowe's character shows the absurdity of one person being the pinnacle of social justice, that the intricacies within the branches of social progression are often too vast for one single person to navigate and represent, whilst simultaneously being devoid of mistake. The realism was exquisite, friends. Harlowe is humanised, and not idealised. Another thing, Juliet was a black lesbian from the Bronx, and she didn't know everything about that definition, AND THIS WAS PERFECTLY OKAY! People are so concerned and superior about awareness and that's now become synonymous with needing extensive knowledge of a particular group to belong to that group. And that's bullshit. You can be a lesbian and not understand every single little thing about this sexual concept. Every person in the gay community, for example, is not handed a guide on being queer when they're born, Jesus Christ just stop shoving your superiority down our throats. Juliet, you beauty. Read this wonderful, inclusive book, you will not be disappointed.
An empowering coming of age story, Juliet Takes a Breath is a story of gender, sexuality and racism as a young lesbian Puerto Rican leaves her home in the Bronx to take an internship with a hippy feminist white woman. An intimate look at personal choices and self-reflection, the complexity of the world and the need for visibility leads the reader on a beautiful journey of defining heroism. Flawed characters and an intensely passionate look at sisterhood and family allow for relatability with moments of real life instructions. Raw, intelligent and incredibly humorous, this is a must read. Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
The one word that kept going through my mind as I read Juliet Takes a Breath and later tried to compose my thoughts on it is "authentic." Juliet Takes a Breath is one of the most authentic books I have ever read, and that authenticity is what makes it truly fantastic. I'm guessing that the author drew heavily from her own experience, and it shows in a very good way; Juliet's voice is incredibly clear and incredibly real. At the core of it, she's just a young person trying to figure things out, and that is something that so many other young people can relate to. Readers who share experiences and/or identities with Juliet (being latinx, queer, working class, growing up in the Bronx, etc) will find that her story resonates even more. As a young queer woman, I found myself tearing up several times because Rivera captures so perfectly that experience. It took me a while to get hooked into the book because the beginning part when Juliet comes out to her family evoked so many emotions about when I came out to my own family, and it was a little overwhelming, but in a good way. The characters, too, were incredibly relatable. I have met people who are a lot like Harlowe, like Lainie, like Maxine, even like Phen, bit player that he is. I felt a connection with the characters and the situations in a way that I don't with most realistic fiction; even though it was fiction, these kinds of people do exist, and these kinds of things do happen, and furthermore, people like Juliet really do grow and deepen their connection to their own identity and to others. For young queer folks who haven't gotten to that point yet, this book could be very inspiring, even hopeful. But even if readers do not share the same experiences as Juliet, this book is still incredibly valuable, as it tackles issues like race and sexuality in a very honest way, introducing concepts that some people may not be familiar with and tackling tricky situations (the role of race in an interracial relationship, for example) using the characters as a proxy. The characters teach us about a range of different things-gender pronouns, what the word "queer" means, how polyamory can work-but it never feels like the characters are just spouting off a lecture at us because Rivera weaves it in seamlessly in a way that makes sense. When I first began the book, I was a little apprehensive because Harlowe's brand of feminism that caters to white cis lesbians was a bit off putting to me; I've seen it in my own life, and I even used to subscribe to it until I realized how exclusionary that kind of feminism is to women of color and trans women and basically anyone who isn't a white cis woman. But rather than espousing Harlowe's feminism, Rivera tackles it head on, and uses Harlowe as a way to point out the dangers of white feminism and the pitfalls that white allies can fall into. Impressively, I find that she also strikes an impressive balance; the characters who make mistakes are not immediately forgiven or pardoned, but neither are they uniformly vilified. People are complex and relationships are complex and the interplay of personal relationships with race and gender and sexuality is complex, and Rivera portrays that with care and honesty. As a side note, I was very impressed at how well Rivera wrote about the (view spoiler) I'm also impressed at the breadth that Rivera covered in a relatively short book. She took us from Juliet's home in the Bronx to the queer community of Portland to Ava's world in Miami (and the chapter about the party that Ava takes Juliet too is really one of the highlights of the novel for me). Juliet's relationship with her family-particularly Ava and Lil' Melvin-was also absolutely fantastic. I only have two very minor gripes with the book, and they're really not full-on gripes as much as they are things that I was confused about. The first is that I'm still confused (view spoiler) The second is that I think that at times, Harlowe is written as such an extreme hippie that she borders on being a caricature. However, I do think that there are probably people like Harlowe out there, and my feeling on this is mostly a product of the fact that I live in an area very different than Portland where I don't meet many Harlowes. On the whole, I think that Gabby Rivera has really written a fantastic novel; the cast is diverse in the way that the real world is diverse, and the way she draws on her own experience as a queer latina makes the novel shine. Many LGBTQ+ books tend to showcase one particular narrative; in particular, a white, usually middle class narrative. Alternatively, they are written by people who are not a part of the community that their characters are, and they fall into stereotyping and/or fetishizing (white authors oversimplifying the experience of LGBT people of color, or straight white women writing fetishizing fiction about two cis white gay men). But with Juliet Takes a Breath, Rivera has given voice to a different narrative that is just as valuable and just as authentic, if not more so. When people say that we need diverse books by diverse authors, this is exactly the kind of book that they mean.
This book is very refreshing since it takes the experiences of a queer latina woman to the forefront of the story it’s particularly important because even though I enjoy reading (and in general consuming media) that reflects on other type of experiences seeing a lot of what I live or feel being talked about and shed a positive light is rare and priceless especially because there are not many stories exploring the intersectionalism between queerness and being a latinx. The beginning is amazing because we start with Juliet writing a letter to to author Harlowe Brisbane — a famous feminist and lesbian — as part of an internship application. Harlowe’s book is named Raging Flower: Empowering Your Pussy by Empowering Your Mind. So that should show you the tone of the coming pages and just a beautiful way to show you how Juliet sees and relates to the world. “But now I’m writing to you because this book of yours, this magical labia manifesto, has become my Bible. It’s definitely a reading from the book of white lady feminism and yet, there are moments where I see my round, brown ass in your words. I wanted more of that, Harlowe, more representation, more acknowledgement, more room to breathe the same air as you. “We are all women. We are all of the womb. It is in that essence of the moon that we share sisterhood” — that’s you. You wrote that and I highlighted it, wondering if that was true. If you don’t know my life and my struggles, can we be sisters?” So when Juliet finally comes out to her family just before going into her internship to Portland, to a big city to meet her hero and be herself (10/10 can relate to this because even though I moved to my country’s capital to be myself and not to meet my hero) she is shocked by the cultural changes and the feel of the city. I don’t want spoil more but it’s important to note this is a wonderful read exploring feminism in an intersectional lense more than the usual white feminism that’s been going around in media, and it’s not preachy if you’re fearing that, it’s just natural and reflective.
Rivera's novel follows Juliet, a 19 year old latina from the Bronx, as she deals with a growing awareness of feminism, racism and queer culture. The characterisation is a real highlight for me, with every character having fully-rounded thoughts, feelings and conflicts that they struggle to reconcile with themselves and each other. The format allows Juliet to come up against contemporary ideas in queer theory and intersectional feminism so the reader can follow various arguments without feeling preached at. The only downside was that the characters themselves can be deeply irritating. The first two thirds of the novel are devoted to interactions with Harlowe Brisbane, a white hippy feminist whose ideas are grating. While this is of course the point, it did make it hard for me to push through to the end! Ultimately, Rivera does an excellent job of portraying the ideological juggling we must all do in order to come to some sense of who we are and what we want to stand for.
This book hooked me since the first page: Juliet's voice is so refreshing and I loved discovering more about her, her family and friends, and her relationship with feminism, queerness and race. A solid five-star read for me.
I have already posted my review on Amazon. And I plan to post my review on my blog (lifeofaliteraryner.wordpress.com) and twitter (twitter.com/ahyperboliclife) Monday afternoon on June 5th. ----- This books was a ride for me. I could not stand Harlowe Brisbane or her damn book so I almost DNF’d this after chapter 2, but I am glad my sister pushed me to keep going because I really loved it. Juliet Takes a Breath is a moving and powerful story of self-discovery, growth, expectations, and feminism. Juliet’s story felt so honest and raw, it truly captivates you as she learns to love herself. Things I Liked : Juliet’s journey is beautiful and powerful. I loved seeing her discover feminism, what it means to her, and where she fits into this larger movement. I also really loved that she learns from her family and she has a support system around her, ready to uplift and encourage her. The feminist and queer ideologies are very accessible for every reader. Juliet learns and absorbs so much - about non-white revolutionists, polyamorous and other non-heteronormative relationships, safe spaces, trans rights, allies. Juliet’s eyes are opened to a world she didn’t know existed and she craves knowledge and understanding. Everything is explained very clearly and respectfully, so those new to feminism can easy understand the topics and grow in knowledge like Juliet. I also loved how Juliet’s relationship with her mom developed. We see their relationship go through so much and in the end, her mom helps propel her forward, and encourages her to reinvent her own world and not rely on others to do so. I LOVED that they called out the white feminism EVERY TIME. The characters in the story were openly critical of the exclusionary and dismissive white feminist nonsense and actively challenged that white feminism was universal. It was just so great to see. Things I Didn’t Like : You already now I hated Harlowe. Everytime she was in a scene I just got angry - and don’t even get me started on her dumbass book. First of all, it reminded me so much of the book Rachel reads in Friends-Be Your Own Windkeeper. I felt like they were basically interchangeable. On a more critical note, Raging Flower reeked of privilege. Highlighting women’s divine essence and power and their cosmic sisterhood, while not confronting any of the systemic or political oppression women - especially non-white women - face was infuriating. Yes camaraderie and self empowerment are important, but I HATED how Juliet upheld her book as a bastion of feminist literature and Harlowe was iconicized for her mediocrity. It was not unrealistic though, and Harlowe/her book was called out several times so I really appreciated that. I also HATED her half assed apology to Juliet after the incident at the book reading. She literally said she didn’t think she said anything wrong or mean about Juliet and I couldn’t believe it. I felt Juliet was very naive. I understand that this is the story of her journey to discover more about feminism and where she fit in, but it didn’t feel like she was in college to me. She says she met Lainie in a Women’s Studies class, but she still new virtually nothing about feminism, or the fallacies of the US government, at all. It was a little unbelievable to me. I also didn’t like her thoughts about the Native American genocide being an accident, and how Harlowe and Maxine’s poly relationship meant her crushes on Kira and Maxine, while still loving Lainie, was okay - it felt like she was trying to justify emotionally cheating to me, while not being open with all parties. It was also hard for me to believe that Juliet’s only resource on feminist literature was Raging Flower - even in Harlowe’s book she says to read books and resources from a wide range of people, so I could believe that Juliet hadn’t taken that advice to heart. This was a tough reading experience for me, but I am really happy I finished the book. Juliet’s story is honest and gripping and unapologetically queer. Juliet celebrates the queerness in her own life and in the community she discovers. I loved going on this journey with Juliet and seeing her come into her own and learn to love who she is.
I received a copy of this in E-Book format from Netgalley and Riverdale Avenue Books in exchange for a review. Juliet Takes A Breath is about this Latina woman named Juliet. She is currently dating a woman and decides to not only come out to her family. But she does it the night before she leaves to Portland , Oregon for an internship with the famous Harlowe Brisbane. The story follows Juliet and the crazy people she meets along the way. I absolutely adored this book from start to finish. I had to literally force myself to put this book down. The writing is so beautiful and it speaks truths. It inspires and encourages you to be yourself. This book literally made me take a breath of fresh air and it changed the way I see myself. I think this book should be a reading requirement. Especially for those that identify in some sort of "minority" whether that be by skin color or sexual identification. Juliet is a flawed character and that is what makes her so relatable. You can feel her struggles and say oh honey I've been there!! I also loved how the use of weed (marijuana) was totally okay and brought up in the book. It wasn't this awful taboo "drug". It was a medicine that helps in so many situations and I think that is incredible. Especially for a book like this. This is now one of my favorite novels and I hope you read it. I am just gushing at this point , and I am not revealing too much about the plot because I want you all to read it ! It will make you laugh, cry, and at some points yell at characters and go WTF! Seriously go read this. 5/5 stars.
This book was magical and mystical and all things fucking amazing. I am older than the character in the book, but when I was 19 I wish there had been more books like this one. It was so nice to read an affirming book about queer, POC, nerds who had no idea what it meant to be a lesbian or feminist. I was that way when I first came out and I felt utterly clueless. Juliet's story is important because it lets me know that there are other people like me out there. It brings back fond memories of being the only person in my family to leave the "hood" and try something new and different and not knowing how that would look or feel. This book is important because it lets little brown girls out there know that they have a voice and there is someone writing their stories. It really gave me all of the feels and was made even better by getting to meet Gabby Rivera at BookCon in NYC this past weekend. I will read everything she writes and I hope there are more YA-ish books about girls of color and their experiences navigating the queer community. I thought the character of Harlow was so well written in all of her flaws and the rest of the characters fit really well into the book. Overall great first book and I am glad I happened upon it.
I loved this book. I cried, I laughed in public, and I'm really grateful to have read it at this moment. It made me absolutely giddy and primed me perfectly for Pride. It made me want to rally up all my queer friends for talks and marches and meditations and protests... And also just to take time to fortify each other. Juliet Takes a Breath is about a young college Puerto Rican from the Bronx who scores an internship with a feminist icon in Portland, OR. (Although my favorite bit is actually a brief stint in Miami.) It's a coming-of-age story and can function as a bit of a 101/intro to feminist and queer circles, but it also worked for me as a pure celebration of all those things. I believe it's a semi-autobiographical story for Gabby Rivera, and her voice is necessary, needed, wanted, and requested. Fans of the POC lovefest in The Sun Is Also a Star, the empowerment/community stories of The Hate U Give and The Color Purple, and the Latino jubilation in Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao should check this one out. Thanks to NetGalley for access to an e-copy! Almost halfway through reading I decided I had to run to my local LGBT Center library to purchase my own hardcopy. :D
Juliet is a chubby lesbian Puerto Rican girl who just came out to her family and is about to spend her summer with Harlowe, the author of a book that has helped her to discover feminism. During this summer she will learn a lot of things about herself, about feminism, racism and white privilege, and the queer community; she'll get to question everything and everyone; and she'll understand that Harlowe doesn't have all the answers. I firmly believe we need more books like this one. Books that talk freely about feminism (including polyamory, menstruation, or masturbation), books with a main character who needs to ask lots of questions because is still learning and is facing many issues that are new to her. Because it's ok not to know all the terminology, to have doubts, and to ask (politely and respectfully) when you need any clarification. And that doesn't mean that other people are better than you. Also, we need more books with so many queer and PoC spaces, books that talk about how important is to find people you identify with and make you feel that you belong, books that question white allocishet privilege.
Gabby Rivera has a witty writing that you grab you from the beggining. I'm going to review this on my youtube channel.
if it’s a phase, so what? if it’s your whole life, who cares? you’re destined to evolve and understand yourself in new ways you never imagined before. LANGUAGE WARNING FOR THIS REVIEW From the very moment Juliet Milagros Palante referred to herself as a ferocious cunt I knew I'd like this book. First of all, because teenagers swearing is realistic and I want it more in books. Second of all, because I just think there's something entirely glorious about referring to yourself as a ferocious cunt. This book is one of those books I worry people won't read or will dnf because it's not got that much plot. It's a coming of age story, and I get why people say it's boring but this book is so entirely well written, well addressed, well researched and well presented it's a massive fucking shame if people walk past it. Even though it's not a typical fast moving plot, I still felt myself constantly reaching for this because it was endlessly interesting in other ways then plot. Juliet Takes a Breath follows Puerto Rican lesbian girl Juliet Palante who's recently been introduced to feminism and "Pussy Power" by Portland writer Harlowe Brisbane. Juliet takes up a summer intern with Harlowe, and the story basically followers her as she navigates her internship. The truly beautiful and unique thing about this book is the incredible visibility of queer spaces, and especially queer spaces for women of colour. This book debunks and challenges aspects of feminism and womanhood that are exclusionary, cissexist or racist and promotes intersectionality. Juliet must confront and explore how her sexuality, gender and ethnicity intersect and that exploration is something so rarely seen in YA. What I liked about this is it kinda feels like you take Juliet's hand and learn as she does. This forced me to address and acknowledge some of my own white privilege and cissexism and I really liked that about it. If you're willing to go into it open minded you will genuinely learn alot about modern feminism, lgbt+ communities, QPOC spaces and intersectional feminism. Gabby Rivera feels in control and educated on every subject that comes up - this is own voices, but still a part of me was worried the exclusionary aspects of Harlowe's feminism would never be addressed. Shame on me for having no faith, Rivera masterfully writers and crafts her story. Aside from the larger themes, this book has such cute romance elements. There's a cute librarian girl who rides a motorbike and goes stargazing !! And an interracial couple with no white people !! (Kira is biracial Korean and White) There is also a poly relationship. And aaah it's so cute !! And Juliet is soo tongue tied over the cute girls and it was just sweet and not sexualised or anything but was just soft and realistic and I LOVED IT. Genuinely, I think this is such an important and well written book. I think it's important book that offers so much visible spaces for lgbt+ youth and especially queer women of colour. This book is filled to the brim with strong, outspoken and beautiful queer, poc women and it truly made my heart sing. The representation matters so much to me, and I imagine it matters even more to brown girls. This book feels so rare, like I don't know if I'll read anything which forefronts queer spaces this much again. I will never be over it. I genuinely want everyone to read this - whether you're gay, white, female or not. I feel so incredibly gushy about this book - like, you don't understand how validated and good this makes me feel and it isn't even for me. I am so happy Juliet got to find and experience spaces that included her, and a brand of feminism she could claim. Juliet's story is incredibly important, she's a chubby, latina queer women who finds her voice, her discovers and claims her own sexuality and spaces. The sharpness and poignancy of this book will not be forgotten by me, it's a terribly important story, a true look into how queer women of colour are struggling and it's a great intro book to inclusionary feminism which also serves as a critique and reminder to white feminist. I am literally willing to beg people to read this, it's that important.
First, I want to thank Netgalley, the publisher and Gabby Rivera for this copy in exchange for my review! When I went into Juliet Takes a Breath, I thought that this was going to be a nice lesbian romance and coming out/coming of age story. What I got was probably the best book I've read in 2017 and a novel I think everyone should read. I loved every part of this novel, it's one that everyone can leave with something new that they didn't know or didn't understand. The feminism, body positivity, LGBTQIA+ and POC rep blew me away. The plot itself was fully based around our MC, Juliet's, growth and discovery of herself and it was executed perfectly. That being said, so was the character development in this book. It touches base on accepting yourself, the patriarchy, the importance of the LGBTQIA+ and POC community within the feminist movement, and how important it is to know your history. I honestly can't recommend this book enough, it's a powerful book and it left a huge impression on me. I'll be picking up my own physical copy soon.
Honestly, this book is just incredible. Both for being a lgbt story and for being a Hispanic lgbt story. The main character had a sensational voice that I loved reading. She was a magnetic character that I connected with instantly. Her perspective made everything about the book enjoyable: the plot, the setting, the other characters. I especially recommend this book to anyone who can relate to being Hispanic, lgbt, or a woman. I also recommend this book to people who just like good books.
Overall I real loved this book, it is really divers and it touch upon subjects not every writer dares to touch upon. We need more books and writers like this and I would love to read more books like this. This is also a story about self-discovery, Juliet learns a lot about her background and who she is and what she stands for. She goes on a journey to find out what it means to be queer, a feminist and a black feminist. I think this is a book everyone should and can read, I definitely recommend it. Everyone can take something from this book and it is divers. I think almost everyone can find someone to identify with when it comes to Juliet.
Juliet Takes a Breath is like a love letter to your (younger) queer self. Written by “round, brown loverboi” Gabby Rivera, JTAB is the coming of age story of young Puerto Rican Juliet Palante who leaves the Bronx to start an internship with infamous feminist writer Harlowe Brisbane in an effort to discover her Queer, Feminist, Puerto Rican self. “Feminism. I’m new to it. The word still sounds weird and wrong. Too white, too structured, too foreign: something I can’t claim… Can a badass white lady like you make room for me? Should I stand next to you and take that space? Or do I need to just push you out of the way? Claim it myself now so that one day we’ll be able to share this earth, this block, these deep breaths?” As Juliet learns, loves, and grows throughout her time in the Bronx, Portland and Miami, so do we. And boy, what a journey we go on with Juliet as she bounces from coming out to her family before leaving for Portland; to meeting the author of ‘Raging Flower: Empowering Your Pussy by Empowering Your Mind’ Harlowe; being (badly) introduced to “PGP’s” (preferred gendered pronouns), polyamory, WoC only spaces and the power of (cis) women’s bodies; and finding herself knee deep in intersectional tensions within the queer and feminist communities. JTAB provides an immersive and grounding introduction to feminism, queerness and intersectionality through the innocent eyes of Juliet as she struggles to come to grips with this new found language that she has found herself in. This book is not only of massive importance in terms of offering a kick ass representation of a young, fat, nerdy, queer Puerto Rican girl but also for the thought-provoking discussions that Rivera’s astute observations give rise to. Rivera beautifully, articulately and intelligently captures the reality of the queer and feminist communities in all of their technicolored nuances with, at times, disconcerting clarity. As someone who was raised as female and came out as bisexual in 2008/2009, and then again as trans in 2010, I have experienced my fair share of both of these communities and have become increasingly exasperated, infuriated, and alienated with the increasingly dominating attitude which Rivera so expertly depicts in JTAB. Through the characters of Phen, Harlowe and Maxine we see Juliet’s ongoing struggle to get to grips with a community which constantly makes her feel like an outcast – as someone who is stupid for not being better versed in the ever growing complexity of Queer terminology and concepts which many younger queers, fresh out of the closet, would most likely not have been exposed to before. Phen rolled his eyes. “Oh c’mon, do you identify as queer? As a dyke? Are you trans?” he asked, spitting phrases at me, amused by my ignorance. “And PGPs are so important even though I think we should drop preferred and call them mandatory gender pronouns. So, are you she, he, ze, they?” “As a queer person, I have this opportunity to deconstruct and potentially abolish heteronormative relationship structures and create relationship models that work for me, that work for my needs and that don’t rely on mimicking straight codes of conduct. Codes that often adhere to strict and archaic gender roles, imbalances of power, and that one-half of the relationship is in charge of the other.” (Maxine on polyamory) Time and time again such language and attitudes only exist to further confuse and alienate Juliet who continually feels as though this community is not for her. Whether talking about pronouns, polyamory, sexual orientation, periods, or race, the Portland characters never break it down for Juliet in a way that she can understand and this is exactly what the queer community is really like. I have seen this attitude intensify over the past 5 years, in which anyone who doesn’t “look queer” or who seems ignorant about particular issues is looked down upon rather than initiated into a community that welcomes them. I feel that Rivera really summarises the alienation caused by this attitude when Juliet remarks “All of it swirled in my head and I didn’t know what to do with it. Didn’t know how much I care about it. None of it was about Puerto Rican chicks from the Bronx. All of it seemed black and white and rich and poor and queer and weird.” And that’s even before we get onto the subject of Harlowe who lives and breathes a hippie, white lady ‘Pussy Power’ form of feminism. As a trans person, I always side eye any brand of feminism that can’t seem to talk about women’s bodies without being obsessed with pussy’s and spits out remarks such as these: “We are born with the power of the moon and the flow of the waves within us. It’s only after being commodified for our femaleness that we lose that power. The first step in gaining it back is walking face first into the crashing seas and daring the patriarchy to follow.” “You must walk in this world with the spirit of your ferocious cunt. Express your emotions. Believe that the universe came from your flesh. Own your power, own your connection to Mother Earth. Howl at the moon, bare your teeth, and be a goddamn wolf”. Harlowe, whilst a great character for engendering a far-reaching discussion about intersectionality and white feminism, is an awful, awful person. Not only does she continually thrust mountains of emotional and physical labour onto Juliet, but she is also racist. I won’t reveal too much about what happens in the book but it’s basically everything you would expect a woman like Harlowe to do. The reality that Rivera captures in JTAB, I feel, is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it makes it such a ground-breakingly important book in a format which can be read and accessed by a diverse readership, but also a curse in that it can (at times) make it incredibly hard to get through. There are points in the book where the characters, particularly Harlowe, can be so stereotypical that it becomes really grating. At one point I put the book down and didn’t pick it up again for another 2 months. However, that being said, I do recognise that much of my issue with this lies in my own experiences with these communities and, as a result of Rivera’s insightful writing, I found it hard to have to live through it all again. One other issue I had with the book is my absolute frustration with the way that the book ended. I had forged on through everything, even during the times when I really wanted to give up with JTAB, the hopes that Rivera would finally allow Juliet the revelation that Harlowe is not a good person and have her discover the QTIPOC community. It does happen, which made me cheer with happiness because I was rooting for this for the entire book and the section where she connects with said community is one of the most enjoyable parts of the book. However, Rivera makes the decision to have Juliet later rejoin Harlowe, complete her internship, and seemingly find peace with everything that happened. For me, this created a little bit of a flat ending and I really, really wish that Rivera had just cut the third section of the book, ending instead with her being welcomed into the QTIPOC community. I also feel like that the book maybe drags on for a little too long and at times the book can be very YA, as we are living the world through the naive eyes of Juliet, but those are very picky little things I could also live with. Overall, despite some of my frustrations with the book JTAB is clearly a very important book and I would highly recommend it to everyone. It can be a little bit hard-going for those well-versed in the queer community but I think that Juliet’s identity and character mostly offset this. There are some beautifully heart-warming moments in the book, particularly as Juliet’s mother comes to terms with her queerness, and Rivera’s intelligent reflections on the queer and feminist communities certainly leave a lot of food for thought. Whilst I did only rate JTAB 3.5 stars on Goodreads, part of this is due to my own identity impacting upon my enjoyment of the book as an older queer, as someone who is white, as a transmasc person. However, this book is not for me and so whilst there were elements which I struggled with, I think this book is amazing for existing.
The video review of this book will be published on the blog (www.psilovethatbook.com) as well as on my youtube channel on 29th of June.
There is something about this book that reminde