2020 has definitely been the year where I started reading more LGBTQIA+ content, as well as the year where I delved further into the world of graphic novels. Quite often, it turns out, those two domains cross over – and they do so brilliantly in Juliet Takes a Breath!
I was offered an ARC by Netgalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are strictly my own.
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 don’t worry, Juliet has something kinda resembling a plan that’ll help her figure out what it means to be Puerto Rican, lesbian and out. See, she’s going to intern with Harlowe Brisbane – her favorite feminist author, someone’s who’s the last work on feminism, self-love and lots of of ther things that will help Juliet find her ever elusive epiphany.
There’s just one problem – Harlowe’s white, not from the Bronx and doesn’t have the answers. Okay, maybe that’s more than one problem but Juliet never said it was a perfect plan…
Critically-acclaimed writer Gabby Rivera adapts her bestselling novel alongside artist Celia Moscote in an unforgettable queer coming-of-age story exploring race, idenrity and what it means to be true to your amazing self. even when the rest of the world doesn’t understand.
Now, in all honestly, I’m usually all for reading the book first – whether that be before the movie, before the adaptation, … In the case of Juliet Takes a Breath, though, I’m actually really glad I went straight into the graphic novel. Doing so, allowed me to get into this story without any preconceived notions about what the art work should look like. Sure, I’m not actually sure if it’s because of that, but either way, the art definitely drew me into the story straight away. There’s such a warmth in colour, it felt very instinctual and very much so a part of the story, rather than just being there to support the story.
That story, though, was unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and to the extent that, with this description, it can be, even unlike what I’d expected. If nothing else, it was definitely uncomfortable to read at times. It pointed out very clearly in how many aspects my feminism and anti-racism is nowhere near good enough yet. In how many ways I still have so much to learn.
That’s another thing this book did great at as well, though: it pointed out how that’s my responsibility – not something I can shove off on someone else, to have them do the work for me. Still, both the author and the illustrator made that feel (to me at least) as a positive message, rather than only a criticism.
And of course, throughout all that, getting to see the feeling of acceptance that Juliet grows into? That was really amazing (comforting, even) to read as well!
The rating: 4/5
Honestly, I don’t know if I’m the best person to rate this story. After all, it isn’t my story to rate, if you know what I mean? So I figured I’d think about this as a mathematical expression of the extent to which I both enjoyed reading Juliet Takes a Breath, and to which it stuck with me afterwards… A lot, in both cases. If that wasn’t clear yet 🙂 (Goodreads)