Juliet Takes A Breath || A Book Review

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book was released January 2016. So it should already be on some bookshelves somewhere, and I hope it finds space on even more shelves in the coming years.

This novel follows Juliet Milagros Palante from the Bronx to a summer internship in Portland Oregon with the author of her favorite book. While in Portland she plans on figuring out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing, and how to get her mother to talk to her again after coming out to the whole family at dinner. This novel is a coming of age story, that deals with white feminism and finding space in queer communities as a POC.

Much of this book was laugh out loud funny. Juliet as the narrator has a dry humor and with that makes you want to keep reading as she fights to find her own place in Brisbane’s white feminism and queer space. Juliet’s observations and wit were spot on, and as a reader, you could feel her pain and confusion when things were tough, but also her joy and excitement when things were good.

This novel tackles many difficult conversations and ideas, that should be brought to light as often as possible. This book spoke a lot about white feminism and white feminists coming into spaces that don’t belong to them and trying to stake a claim. The push against Brisbane by the women-of-color that she surrounded herself with in Portland were much-needed counterweights. They supported Juliet in this new and strange city and encouraged her on her growth. As a white woman, there were plenty of moments in this story where I had to sit back and reflect on myself and my own choices of spaces and how I am using my voice to lift others.

Much of the queer language in this book sounded like something from an entry level queer studies course, which was at times frustrating. But it helped to place Juliet as a young woman who has only just begun to know this part of herself, and was a good reminder that everyone has had to start somewhere. While wonderfully told and fast paced and heartfelt, the story would only stutter momentarily to fill Juliet in on the terminology used by her friends.

 

Recommendation: This book was wonderfully written, the characters are compelling and strong, and if you are working on calling out your own prejudices this might help to point some of them out.  If you’re looking for a fun read to wrap out 2017 or start 2018 this is telling an important story in a beautiful way.

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