Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

July 31, 2016
InToriLex, Book Review, Juliet Takes a Breath, Gabby Rivera
Published By: Riverdale Avenue Books on January 27, 2016
Format Read: Paperback (276 pages)
Genre: Young Adult/ Feminism/ LGBQT
Series: Standalone
Source: Purchased for Boston Radical Women of Color Book Club
Juliet Takes a Breath

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.


This book was an incredible exploration of how Juliet learns to accept who she is, and how to appreciate others because of their differences. This book effortlessly teaches you why intersectionality in feminism is vital, without ever becoming preachy. You learn with fierce but innocently ignorant Juliet, as she visits the revered but problematic feminist author Harlowe. Juliet is taken out of her comfort zone, and immersed into Portland for her internship, where progressive thoughts and actions permeate everyone around her. However over the course of the book she learns to confront what she doesn't like directly and how to deal with the ways racism exist even in progressive activist communities.
"White people that informed me that my fellow latinos were 'genetically more violent' than the average white boy all while inviting me to their summer home on the Cape."
This book was eye opening to me because it highlighted powerful. self assured women of color characters. It's still hard to find books that confront how feminism for people with different lived experiences, who suffer at the hands of racism, is very different. Creating a community where you can live your truth freely, is not beneficial but necessary. Juliet learns by confronting things honestly how to live for herself and the importance of sharing her voice, This book has the power to encourage so many more to take a breath and become who they need to be.
"Society, government, white supremacist power structures, blatant hatred of women, and a whole slew of institutions are all working together to make it so that you gotta dig to find out even a shred of truth. They don't want you to dig. That's how this world is set up."
I was engaged, empowered, and entertained while reading this book the entire time. The only criticism I have of the book is a small timeline inconsistency error. Despite that error this book was more than worthwhile.  I wanted to read more about the many characters who were un-apologetically themselves.  I would recommend this book to everyone, it confronts race, sexuality, gender, and feminism in a transformative way. I'm looking forward to reading more of this authors work as its released.


Gabby Rivera is a writer, youth mentor, and editor of QTPOC content for Autostraddle.com. Her short stories and poems have been published in various anthologies and journals such as Aster(ix) , and the the Lambda-Award-winning Portland Queer: Tales from the Rose City, OMG I’m Gay, a ‘zine for queer youth, and The Best of Panic! En Vivo from the East Village.
Gabby is the Youth Programs Manager at GLSEN.
She has worked as a film and multi-media teaching artist for social justice organizations, such as DreamYard Project, Inc.. She’s been a featured panelist and counselor at the annual Autostraddle’s Queer Women’s Conference and has presented at the Allied Media and Digital Media and Learning Conferences.

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