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Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

Juliet Takes a Breath

by Gabby Rivera

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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... womanhood is radical enough for anyone who dares to claim it.

Have you ever been so mad at a character that you wanted to yank them right out of a book and give them a talking to? Have you ever been so in love with a character that they felt like a sister? A friend? Have you ever wanted to crawl into a book so you could give a character a hug and soothe them through their darkest hour?

Juliet Takes a Breath is the realistic coming-of-age story of a young Puerto Rican lesbian about to leave home to go on her first college internship. Leaving the Bronx to Portland, Oregon, she goes to work for a white woman whose book changed her entire outlook on herself. But is her mentor everything she had imagined her to be?

Juliet's story takes us face-to-face with the issue of discovering that even those we love and admire can be deeply flawed and takes an honest look at the options for handling that. While it speaks meaningfully about challenging issues such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism, it still maintains a fast pace and a sense of fun generally associated with lighter reads. The characters are incredibly well-written and you become quickly connected to their emotions and experiences as a consequence.

I loved every minute of this book. ( )
  Zoes_Human | Jun 6, 2019 |
(You can find this review and more like it on my blog.)

Wow! Wow! WOW!!!! Y'all this book is SO GOOD!!!! Juliet Takes a Breath reeled me right in and didn't let me go. The representation is excellent: Juliet is a chubby Puerto Rican lesbian and the entire book is chock full of non-white characters and lgbtqia characters--often intersecting. We get to see a lot of different dynamics at play, which is really cool.

I'm white and don't want to take up a ton of space with a review when there are plenty of ownvoices reviews that y'all should look at instead, so I'll just say a few things that came up for me when I was reading it.

I try to be intersectional, but the callout against White Feminism was a good reminder for me to work harder to be more inclusive and to actively fight for folx who might not be within my specific demographic. I love how casually polyamory was discussed and how it was normalized within the story. I love how much Juliet loves her body and how much she talks about loving her body.

Juliet Takes a Breath is a tremendous read that I would absolutely recommend to everyone out there. It's well-written with great characters, and is super easy to get through! ( )
  samesfoley | Dec 26, 2018 |
Powerful and amazing. One of the best things I've ever read and exactly what I needed right now. Gabby's natural writing sang in my head and painted bold pictures full of tumultuous emotion - life, real life and love and pain and need so visceral and tangible. ( )
  emeraldreverie | Nov 15, 2018 |
Oh, man, what a story. I 100% felt the description of Portland and Powell's and I dunno, this was the gay YA book I never knew I always needed, even as someone who was probably closer to Lainie than any other character as a young lesbian, except even shyer about coming out to myself. There's something so powerful about talking about how all these worlds of queerness interact and how race and class and even location (because boy do I know the West Coast/East Coast divide) affect being a LGBTQ person and that experience. One of those books that older queer women should also pick up because you will see yourself and do the little grim smile cringe of "oops, I have done that fail" and still love every bit of Juliet's journey. ( )
  jeninmotion | Sep 27, 2018 |
3.5 Stars
Read everything you can push into your skull. Read your mother’s diary. Read Assata. Read everything Gloria Steinem and bell hooks write. Read all of the poems your friends leave in your locker. 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.
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 knew 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 couldn't 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 the book from Riverdale Avenue Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  LifeofaLiteraryNerd | Apr 27, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gabby Riveraprimary authorall editionscalculated
Road, Cristy C.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dear Harlowe,
Hi, my name is Juliet Palante.
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"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"--Back cover.… (more)

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