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.
**An ARCopy was provided via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review**