Title: Juliet Takes A Breath
Author: Gabby Rivera
Publisher: Dial Books
Publication date: September 17th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
*Thank you Dial Books [PRH] for a review copy in exchange for my honest review and the opportunity to be a part of this blog tour*
Juliet Milagros Palante is a self-proclaimed closeted Puerto Rican baby dyke from the Bronx. Only, she’s not so closeted anymore. Not after coming out to her family the night before flying to Portland, Oregon, to intern with her favorite feminist writer–what’s sure to be a life-changing experience. And when Juliet’s coming out crashes and burns, she’s not sure her mom will ever speak to her again.
But Juliet has a plan–sort of. Her internship with legendary author Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff, is sure to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. Except Harlowe’s white. And not from the Bronx. And she definitely doesn’t have all the answers . . .
In a summer bursting with queer brown dance parties, a sexy fling with a motorcycling librarian, and intense explorations of race and identity, Juliet learns what it means to come out–to the world, to her family, to herself.
This novel was a pretty enjoyable read. Juliet is a 19 year old Puerto Rican from the Bronx who at the beginning of the story is closeted from her family. She is preparing to spend the summer in Portland, Oregon taking on the internship world and working with her favorite feminist writer. She is hoping that through this internship she can understand more about herself and her identity.
During the beginning chapters of the story, Juliet comes out to her family during a celebratory last dinner before she heads off to the summer. Not going as it planned, Juliet leaves the Bronx with her mother not saying a word to her and the awkwardness in the air so thick you can cut it with a knife. That first big scene spoke volumes to the story and is relatable to many teens. Although I do not identify within the LBGTQ community and cannot imagine the emotions they have, as a teen I had a couple of friends come out to their parents with similar results so this part resonated with me. The scene also set the tone to the story and followed the theme of self discovery. Juliet went on to truly learn more about who she is and how each identity she has makes her the person she is.
Although the plot was pretty good, I wasn’t keen on the writing style. I think with the first person stream of conscious take can work in some stories, but it distracted me with this story. At times, I couldn’t keep up with where Juliet’s many thoughts were taking me. However, to counteract my thought with this, when it came to visualizing her feelings, this stream of thought process actually helped. When she was embarrassed I could envision the type of embarrassment or other emotion she was portraying at the moment. In regards to Juliet’s character, she was a work in progress. It was good to see her character development as the book continued on. She is open to grow and stays authentic to who she is. With the author being a woman of color who identifies with the LGBTQ community, the experience that Juliet went through, I can assume, is an experience of what a queer woman of color/inter-sectional feminist may experience [total assumption on my part as I cannot talk from experience]. As a reader who invests heavily in characters, I was here to see Juliet and I stood to see her grow into the person she would ultimately be unapologetic for.
Speaking of characters, when there are strong supporting characters, you can see how well they all add to the protagonist’s growth and character development. Rivera was able to do this so well. The women felt like an extension to Juliet’s family. there was so much detail that went into creating their own arcs and personalities that it would be hard to think if any of these characters are completely fictional. However, I couldn’t invest in Harlowe as a character. Because she is older than Juliet, I was expecting her to be a mentor and see the difference in their experiences. I often got a very preachy vibe from her which derailed from her character potentially being helpful to the plot.
The plot was okay. Because of the narration style, it was hard to figure where the story was leading to and that became the ultimate distraction. But to sum up this story, it was a coming of age story filled with a lot of learning, exploring, parties, regrets, and moments of Juliet being her true great self. Overall as a whole story, it was a pleasant read.
About the Author
Gabby Rivera is a Bronx-born queer Latinx babe on a mission to create the wildest, most fun stories ever. She’s the first Latina to write for Marvel comics, penning the solo series AMERICA about America Chavez, a portal-punching queer Latina powerhouse. In 2017, Gabby was named one of the top comic creators by the SyFy network, and one of NBC’s #Pride30 Innovators. Gabby now makes magic on both coasts, currently residing in California. She writes for all the sweet baby queers and her mom.
Follow the Blog Tour!
September 16 –Selina’s Book Nook – Review + Creative Instagram Picture
September 17 – The Nerdy Girl Express – Review
September 18 – Thindbooks – Top 5 Quotes + Listicle
September 19 – Forever and Everly – Creative Instagram Picture
September 20 – Allisonreadsdc – Creative Instagram Picture
September 23 – Books with Dorothy – Inspired by the Book: Cover Recreation
September 24 – A Bronx Latina Reads – Review
September 25 – Kitty Maries’ Reading Corner – Moodboard
September 26 – wocreader – Review