Juliet Takes A Breath by Gabby Rivera

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

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 have been sitting on this review for months, because I feel so incredibly inept at putting into words how this book affected me. So I guess this also serves as a warning: bare with me as I fumble my way through this.

I’ll start by saying that one of the biggest reasons I read is to learn about other people; their lives, their truths, their experiences. I read to learn about all the things I cannot know myself. I’m a straight, white, cis woman, and I live in a community with minimal diversity. Again: enter the books.

As I started reading, I was immediately drawn to Gabby’s writing style. These characters felt so real, so human, and I was so glad they were going to be a part of my life. Gabby pulled me into a space I’ve never been to before, and I didn’t want to leave. And while I couldn’t personally relate to everything that was happening within these pages, I recognized the feels of self-discovery and trying to find your group of people who know and accept you implicitly.

Another intense reaction I had while reading this story: checking my privilege. Harlowe’s character kept doing and saying things throughout this book that initially struck me as “good”. But as the characters around her broke down her words and actions, and explained how and why what she was doing was harmful, I was getting an education. This book kept reminding me that everything I do and say is filtered through the lens of my privilege, and it’s too easy to stay safely hidden behind that lens.

Obviously there’s a lot more to this book than just my personal revelations. I could sit here and fangirl over how much I effing loved this book, how much I loved following Juliet’s journey, how much I loved learning from the characters, how much I love Rivera’s writing style, but I think I’d scare you away with my excessive jazz hands. So instead I’ll say this: if you are even the least bit interested by the synopsis, read this book!

Highly recommend. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

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Book stats: hardcover, 320 pages, Dial Books, September 17, 2019

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