I bring you all great tidings of joy. I have fantastic news! We’ve been hotly anticipating the debut of Autostraddle’s very own Gabby Rivera’s queer YA novel, Juliet Takes a Breath and guess what, you can read it right this day! And it’s our next Autostraddle book club!
When I heard Gabby had a forthcoming book, let alone a queer YA novel, my heart immediately did somersaults of happiness. If you’ve ever read anything Gabby has written for Autostraddle you know she’s a powerful truth teller, someone who writes from her soul and impacts you with the beautiful rawness in her words and voice. One of the most exciting things about my job is working with amazing writers like her, who can spin words into magic. I’m so happy her new book is out in the world and I’m so excited for y’all to read it. I’ve already devoured it and it made my queer Latina heart sing.
Juliet Takes a Breath is a queer coming-of-age story that follows Juliet Palante, a queer Puerto Rican from the Bronx, as she travels to Portland, Oregon for her summer internship to work for her idol — a white feminist author named Harlowe. Throughout her journey, Juliet comes out to her family, deepens her feminist views and radical politics, learns what queer community is all about, finds some badass queer people of color mentors, falls for a rad girl and unearths some truths about herself.
I read Gabby’s book on the plane on the way home to the Valley and maybe I’m always emotional going back home but Gabby’s book hit me, like right in the gut, in such a good way. I laughed and smiled so many times because I could hear Gabby’s voice saying things in real life and understood her Latinx references and her viewpoints as a baby queer Latina. I connected so much with Juliet because I’ve been in Juliet’s awkward, teen shoes, something that doesn’t happen very often with books. I read the last half of the book on the way back to Dallas and again, maybe I was just emotional from leaving my family back home but I cried several times because what Juliet learns about herself in the end was just so damn beautiful. When I was a closeted teen, I read Annie On My Mind and Keeping You a Secret and those were amazing LGBT YA novels to keep me company throughout figuring out who the fuck I was but I can just imagine how Juliet Takes A Breath will impact young, queer people of color along their journey. Even though Gabby’s book is aimed at LGBT youth, I rediscovered some lessons I learned long ago but needed to be reminded of their value as an adult. It reminded me about the power of forgiveness, surprisingly; how community can always lift us up; and how chubby, brown girls rule forever.
Here’s what Riese had to say about the book:
“Rivera cuts your heart right open with the most original young lesbian character I’ve read in years, seamlessly weaving together racial politics, awkward teenage romance and queer coming-of-age that manages to both center and transcend the identities it represents.
So tender, so real, so crazy-beautiful and earnest and honest and everything you’ve ever wanted in a queer coming-of-age story but could never find till now.”
I mean, if you haven’t already, you should buy it now for your Kindle and then buy the paper version when it becomes available January 29th! Read it, consume it, write all your feelings down in your diary and then come back to Autostraddle on Wednesday, February 10th so we can talk about all your thoughts and feelings in a new post! Also stay tuned to Autostraddle for Gabby’s personal essay of how this book got born and additional events and shows in the spring.