on January 1st 1970
Source: Audible, Owned
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“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. “
Everyone needs to read Juliet Takes a Breath
Ok, that was easy. Review over.
Seriously though, this book has something to say to everyone.
Juliet is nineteen and has her first girlfriend. Her family doesn’t know and that bothers her. They are very close and keeping something this important from them feels wrong to her. She tells them right before she leaves for the summer to do an internship in Portland with her favorite author. The reception is not what she hoped for.
Portland isn’t what she expected either. It is so overwhelmingly white but the white people are weirder than any white people she’s met before. If she’s come to her favorite lesbian author’s house, why is there a naked man in the kitchen? Why doesn’t she understand what anyone is talking about?
There is no right way to be
Juliet had idolized Harlowe as a lesbian author who seemed to have the answers to everything. But as Juliet gets more involved in Harlowe’s world she sees that some of the ideas that Harlowe has might not be right for her. Part of her growing up and owning her own story is finding out how she needs to branch out and be different. Learning what to keep and what to reject is hard. She needs to see a variety of ways of being a lesbian so she realizes that there are options out there.
Likewise, Harlowe can’t mold Juliet to fit into her preferred narrative. This causes conflict in the book as they try to find neutral ground to speak to each other.
Not everyone speaks your language
Juliet doesn’t have the background in the language of the LGBT movement to be able to understand everything that people in Portland are talking about. Preferred pronouns? Polyamory? As readers follow Juliet’s stories they are exposed to concepts that they may also have not known about. It is also a reminder not to denigrate people who may not know the “correct” terminology but to educate.
This is a book for anyone who has ever felt out of place but who wants to belong. Juliet is charming and you root for her the whole way through the book.
I listened to the audio version of this book. The narration was amazing. Her accents were well done and the Spanish in the book flowed naturally in the story.
Do yourself a favor. Pick up this book and fall in love with Juliet.