Juliet Milagros Palante is a self-proclaimed closeted Puerto Rican baby dyke from the Bronx. Only, she’s not so closeted anymore. Not after coming out to her family the night before flying to Portland, Oregon, to intern with her favorite feminist writer–what’s sure to be a life-changing experience. And when Juliet’s coming out crashes and burns, she’s not sure her mom will ever speak to her again.
But Juliet has a plan–sort of. Her internship with legendary author Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff, is sure to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. Except Harlowe’s white. And not from the Bronx. And she definitely doesn’t have all the answers . . .
In a summer bursting with queer brown dance parties, a sexy fling with a motorcycling librarian, and intense explorations of race and identity, Juliet learns what it means to come out–to the world, to her family, to herself.
Gabby Rivera is a Bronx-born queer Latinx babe on a mission to create the wildest, most fun stories ever. She’s the first Latina to write for Marvel comics, penning the solo series AMERICA about America Chavez, a portal-punching queer Latina powerhouse. In 2017, Gabby was named one of the top comic creators by the SyFy network, and one of NBC’s #Pride30 Innovators. Gabby now makes magic on both coasts, currently residing in California. She writes for all the sweet baby queers and her mom.
Juliet Takes A Breath is one of those books you hold in your hands long after reading, hug close to your heart, and have the urge to whisper your thanks to it, even though it’s an inanimate object and your thanks is pretty pointless. It’s one of those books that seeps into your bones and makes you feel close to tears thinking about all the people that might stumble across it and whisper their own thanks.
Over the past few years I’ve been on a journey of learning about, accepting, and being proud of my culture and its history. This year I made it a personal goal to read more books by and about Latinx folks. So when I got the pitch for the JTAB blog campaign, I immediately said yes. A book about a Latinx babe, written by a Latinx babe? Sign me up.
There were so many things I loved about this book. But I really loved how Juliet’s cluelessness about identity, feminism, and many LGBTQ+ issues was upfront and in your face, because we have all been there. We have all had to start somewhere and learn (or unlearn) certain things.
There’s a scene early in the book where all these different words and identities and pronouns are being thrown at Juliet. It was so interesting because I could feel her being buried under all these words. I remember being buried under them all myself years ago. Thankfully, I had the golden trio at my disposal: Twitter, Google, and women’s studies courses. When Juliet eventually finds people she feels comfortable asking questions to, I couldn’t help but feel extremely proud. Seeing her learn to question everything and be fearless in her questions as the story goes on was beautiful.
One of my favorite parts of the book was Juliet’s discovery of how little she knows about her ancestors and her culture’s history. Like, hi, been there.
“I read the passage on Latin America a few times over. I knew nothing about that region. As an educated Latina, shouldn’t I have known something?”
I felt this on such a deep level and I can’t tell you how comforting it was to see this sort of representation on paper.
So many of the Latinx people in my life are and seem to have always been extremely proud of our culture and well-educated in its history. Me? I didn’t know much about it during my childhood, felt shame towards it and altogether ignored it during my teens, and only once I was an adult did I begin to take pride and want to embrace it and learn about it, but realized how “behind” I was compared to everyone around me. This sinking feeling Juliet has of realizing how little she knows about her culture’s history, it is something I know all too well.
On a lighter note, let’s move on to talking about how much I love these characters. All of them. They are all precious to me. Even Harlowe. I love Juliet (obvi), I love Maxine, I love Zaira, I love Lil’ Melvin, I love Lupe and Ginger Raine, I love Ava and Titi Penny, I love Kira, I love everyone… Okay, maybe not Lainie, but you win some, you lose some.
There are so many moments in JTAB that I want to talk about, and cry about, and scream about, but I would actually be here for another 500 words, so I won’t do that. I will, however, have to downright insist that you pick up this book. No matter your race, your sexual orientation or gender identity, or your pronouns or lack thereof. Please just pick it up. I promise when you finish it you’ll hold it tight to your chest and whisper, “Thanks.”
Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5) = Masterful.
September 16 – Selina’s Book Nook
September 17 – The Nerdy Girl Express
September 18 – Thindbooks
September 19 – Forever and Everly
September 20 – Allisonreadsdc
September 23 – Books with Dorothy
September 24 – A Bronx Latina Reads
September 25 – Kitty Maries’ Reading Corner
September 26 – wocreader
Disclaimer: An ARC of Juliet Takes A Breath was sent to me by Penguin Random House to review for the Juliet Takes A Breath Blog Tour. Any quotes included in this review are based off of the uncorrected proof copy I was provided.