Juliet takes a breath by Gaby Rivera // thought-provoking and funny, a new favourite

I just finished this amazing book and I have so much to talk about! This review will not contain spoilers. So without further ado, let’s jump right in.

28648863Goodreads blurb:

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.


Let’s start by talking about the diversity in this book. The main character Juliet is a chubby Puerto Rican lesbian from the Bronx. This book features an arrange of people with tons of different sexual orientations. It features mostly POC characters, especially women of colour. I loved that. The novel speaks about racism and POC-only and queer-only spaces in such good ways. It was empowering. I’m white myself, but from what I’ve heard the representation is good. The book is Own Voices.

“It’s about women of color owning their own space and their voices being treated with dignity and respect. It’s about women of color not having to shout over voices to be heard. We are the dominant force almost all the time. White women are the stars of all the movies. White women are the lead speakers in feminist debates, and it’s little white girls that send the nation into a frenzy when they’ve been kidnapped. …check your privilege. We’re the ones that need to give women of color space for their voices.”

It also talks a lot about feminism and more specifically, intersectional feminism. I loved that. It talks about how white-centered feminism often is and that most people can’t identify with that. It talks about the need to change our perceptions in order to include everyone.

This book is such an amazing example of queer lit. Juliet is still learning about the LGBT+ community and we come on the journey along with her. Everyone is accepted.

“If it’s a phase, so what? If it’s your whole life, who cares? You’re destined to evolve and understand yourself in ways you never imagined before.”

“Whatever pronouns a person chooses, if they choose any at all, are their right. Not a fucking preference,”

It talks about loving yourself and your body. I speaks about accepting yourself. It shows the journey to get to a self-loving place.

“Home, alone in my room, with the sounds of #2 and #5 trains rumbling in the distance, I started with a letter to myself.

Dear Juliet, Repeat after me: You are a bruja. You are a warrior. You are a feminist. You are a beautiful brown babe. Surround yourself with other beautiful brown and black and indigenous and morena and Chicana, native, Indian, mixed race, Asian, gringa, boriqua babes. Let them uplift you. Rage against the motherfucking machine. Question everything anyone ever says to you or forces down your throat or makes you write a hundred times on the blackboard. Question every man that opens his mouth and spews out a law over your body and spirit. Question every single thing until you find the answer in a daydream. Don’t question yourself unless you hurt someone else. When you hurt someone else, sit down, and think, and think, and think, and then make it right. Apologize when you fuck up. Live forever. Consult the ancestors while counting stars in the galaxy. Hold wisdom under tongue until it’s absorbed into the bloodstream. Do not be afraid. Do not doubt yourself. Do not hide Be proud of your inhaler, your cane, your back brace, your acne. Be proud of the things that the world uses to make you feel different. Love your fat fucking glorious body. Love your breasts, hips, and wide-ass if you have them and if you don’t, love the body you do have or the one you create for yourself. Love the fact that you have ingrown hairs on the back of your thighs and your grandma’s mustache on your lips. Read all the books that make you whole. Read all the books that pull you out of the present and into the future. Read all the books about women who get tattoos, and break hearts, and rob banks, and start heavy metal bands. Read every single one of them. Kiss everyone. Ask first. Always ask first and then kiss the way stars burn in the sky. Trust your lungs. Trust the Universe. Trust your damn self. Love hard, deep, without restraint or doubt Love everything that brushes past your skin and lives inside your soul. Love yourself.

In La Virgen’s name and in the name of Selena, Adiosa.”

The book also flawlessly includes consent. It’s not a thing that is really discussed between the characters, but it’s there. It’s definitely there and I appreciated that so much!

“Kiss everyone.
Ask first.
Always ask first and then kiss the way the stars burn in the sky.”


I really liked Juliet, the main character. She was real. She was funny. She was a nerdburger, as she called herself. Her point of view is what made this book so good. I loved it.

I also really liked the family dynamics in this book. Well, not the part with her mother not knowing how to accept her daughter’s queerness. But, I loved Juliet’s brother Lil’ Melvin. He was so cute and loveable. I also loved how supportive Juliet’s aunts ( or titi’s as she calls them) were. They definitely added to the story. The family member I loved the most though, was Ava. She’s Juliet’s cousin and their relationship is so good. They support and love each other. They conversations were fabulous. I loved it.

I also liked Kira (the hot librarian), Maxine and Zaire. I wasn’t that sure of Harlowe, but oh well.


Here are some more quotes I loved, just because I can’t not include them.

“Libraries are safe but also exciting. Libraries are where nerds like me go to refuel. They are safe-havens where the polluted noise of the outside world, with all the bullies and bro-dudes and anti-feminist rhetoric, is shut out. Libraries have zero tolerance for bullshit. Their walls protect us and keep us safe from all the bastards that have never read a book for fun.”

“Reading would make me brilliant, but writing would make me infinite.”

“You’ll meet people that you love who fuck up constantly. You’ll learn how to weed out the assholes from the warriors. You’ll know what groups of people to stay away from because they’re not safe spaces for your heart. You’ll learn when to forgive human error and when to eradicate the unworthy from your spirit.”

“Read everything you can push into your skull. Read your mother’s diary. Read Assata. Read everything Gloria Steinem and bell hooks write. Read all of the poems your friends leave in your locker. Read books about your body written by people who have bodies like yours. Read everything that supports your growth as a vibrant, rebel girl human. Read because you’re tired of secrets.”

“All of the women in my life were telling me the same thing. My story, my truth, my life, my voice, all of that had to be protected and put out into the world by me. No one else.”


Overall, I adored this. I obviously gave it five out of five stars. It has become a new favourite of mine. So, GO READ IT!

See you next time! Love,

eva 2.0

 

16 thoughts on “Juliet takes a breath by Gaby Rivera // thought-provoking and funny, a new favourite

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