Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

Author: Gabby Rivera
Publisher: Riverdale Avenue Books
Publication Year: 2016
Pages: 276
Genre: Contemporary/LGBTQ
My Rating: 4/5

Switching it up my coffee for a smoothie!


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. 


I'm not a big reader of contemporary fiction, just going to put it out there. That's slowly changing but I am still predominantly a genre fan  (fantasy and mystery/thriller are my favs!). So I found out about this book in a round about sort of way when I started looking into the creator of the new Marvel: America #1 comic which features a queer Latina as the protagonist.(Also not a fan of superhero comics but a queer Latina protagonist? I was intrigued!) Gabby Rivera is also a queer Neoyorquina and over all bad-ass (find her on IG @quirkyrican) so when I saw that she had previously written a novel my interest was piqued, especially since lately I've been wanting to push myself to read more NY-centric stories (this is NYC Book Owl after all).

The story, which follows Juliet a Bronx born-and-raised Puertorican throughout a college summer as she comes out to her conservative Christian family then flees to Portland to intern with her feminist-hero-author Harlowe Brisbane. Through hi-jinx and new encounters, Juliet learns to trust herself and come into her own voice. I found Juliet to be funny, sharp, insecure and stubborn and super relatable as she struggles through an identity forming college summer.

Rivera does not shy away from bringing to the forefront intersections of class, race, gender identity and sexuality that are rarely explored in YA or new adult stories, and certainly not in such an honest and sympathetic way. Recently, I have become a little more conscious in my efforts to read own voices narratives and this one does not disappoint. Come for the social commentary, stay for the great characters and that ending letter, oh my. I immediately snapped a picture of that page in the book and texted it to my fellow Latinas because it gave me life! If you are looking for a light(ish), fun, thought provoking intersectional novel, help a sister out and pick up this book.

Although the novel's setting is split between Portland, New York (Bronx) and Miami, Juliet is a Bronx-born-and-bred Latina and she carries her New York attitude with her where ever she goes. So I would place this in the NYC category.


  1. Love this book! Harlowe is a thinly veiled version of author Inga Muscio I'm 99% sure. Have you ever read her?

    1. I hadn't heard of her but her work looks super interesting!