Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera


913QJ7BYc8L._AC_UY218_ML3_Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera. Dial, 2019. 9780593108178

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre:  Realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? Juliet, 19 yrs old and in college, plans to come out to her family on the eve of leaving for her summer internship with the vaunted feminist writer Harlowe Brisbane. But things don’t go as planned, and she leaves the Bronx for Portland, Oregon in tears. To make matters worse, her girlfriend Lainie is not responding to her messages. When she gets to Portland, Harlowe is both a breath of fresh air and a conundrum. So starts this truly affecting coming out/coming of age story. Even though she had barely left the Bronx before landing in Portland, Juliet starts to get the lay of the land quickly, and I don’t just mean figuring out how to get to the library. It’s her first contact with the hippies of the Northwest, and she jumps right in. I love how smart and in touch with her worth she is, and how she values her Puertorriqueña heritage and her gayness, despite her fear of coming out. The language is playful and alive with Juliet’s creative and searching spirit. Juliet narrates the story, which makes her journey immediate and personal. It’s a joy to see her figure out what it means to be a gay woman, and a feminist. There’s a joyful sojourn in Miami with her cousin Ava, a bi woman who teaches her how to party and fully embrace her own body and spirit. And despite the rift with her Mom about being gay, there is so much love there. Juliet remembers a great bit of motherly advice, that “reading would make you brilliant, but writing would make you infinite.” Love that! The end papers feature emblems of the Bronx at the beginning and emblems from Portland at the end, and together with the rocking graphic cover of the back of her head, add to the book’s great appeal.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  For teens who like coming out stories, or stories with Latinx characters, or just fun contemporary coming of age stories.

Who should buy this book? High schools and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Teen or adult fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: October 16, 2019

This entry was posted in *Book Review, *Starred Review, Coming of Age, Contemporary, Gabby Rivera, GLBTQ, Latinx, LGBTQIA+ and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.