Juliet Takes a Breath - Gabby Rivera

Title: Juliet Takes a Breath

Author: Gabby Rivera

Publish Date: September 17, 2019

Publisher: Dial Books

Format: Hardcover

Page Count: 320 pages

Source: Library

Date Read: March 14-21, 2020



I read this book as part of the Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge 2020 prompt "debut by queer author." Ms. Rivera's book was a great YA/NA story of Juliet, a NY Puerto Rican lesbian who earns a coveted summer internship as an assistant to her favorite author (Harlow Brisbane) in Portland, Oregon. Juliet has just came out of the closet to her family the night she leaves for Portland, she has a relationship on the down-low with a college friend (who is doing her own internship with the DNC in Washington DC), and she is very new to feminism. It's a lot, but Rivera really keeps the different strings neatly tied together into the plot without getting tangled up.


Harlow Brisbane is the white, hippy-dippy version of feminism that comes to mind when someone thinks of Portland. She is the book Pussy Power, the book that brought Juliet to feminism and awakened Juliet to the female power within her. However, Juliet soon learns Harlow has no problem using Juliet's brown skin as a shield for Harlow's biased word and actions towards the BIPOC members of Portland's lesbian community. Juliet does make connections with BIPOC lesbians and they come to her rescue when Harlow's overt damage makes Juliet flee Portland to the safety of family in Miami for a long weekend. 


That was my favorite part - seeing Juliet learning about her auntie and cousin, her cousin taking her to a party where Juliet sees herself as just one of the community and not just the brown unicorn, seeing Juliet start to rebuild the bridge toward her mom - it was nothing but joy and color and acceptance. This time strengthens Juliet in a way that makes the reader know Juliet is really coming into her own and that she is going to have a good life with good people around her. The scales fall from her eyes so to speak.


I can recommend this book, but be warned Harlow's microaggression may hit close to home for some readers.