JULIET TAKES A BREATH BY GABBY RIVERA
“Libraries are safe but also exciting. Libraries are where nerds like me go to refuel. They are safe-havens where the polluted noise of the outside world, with all the bullies and bro-dudes and anti-feminist rhetoric, is shut out. Libraries have zero tolerance for bullshit. Their walls protect us and keep us safe from all the bastards that have never read a book for fun.”
“Bible stories that painted women as untrustworthy or whore-ish always seemed off to me. Like, what did those messages have to do with God’s love anyway?”
“Get a little hysterical, Juliet. I mean that’s why vibrators were invented, right? Ask the questions that make you feel like your heart is blasting out of your chest.”
“There’s a lot of wisdom in the world that’s been discarded because it comes from traditions created by women, indigenous peoples, and other non-white dude customs. So, hell yeah, I believe in this stuff.”
“You control the energy in your body. Never forget that, Juliet..”
“Weird is the only way to live, she said..”
“… and in the middle of it all: all of the self-empowerment, all of the radical womanhood, all of the community-building. You will still feel wrecked. Allow yourself to be wrecked. Know that it is finite.”
I did wonder where Juliet got her name from. Its an unusual name for a Puerto-Rican girl but then she isn’t your usual girl at all. Juliet is named after her mama’s love for a Romeo and Juliet 1968 movie adaptation. This book these its Spanish phrases. Scents of the Puerto Rican foods wafting up from my Adobe Reader made me want to get online recipes. I’m tempted to learn the language and then listen to the book’s translated version all over again. I mean Juliet’s experience with Harlowe were filled with seemly ridiculous things..synced periods?! But the more I thought about it I realized my mum and I sometimes have synced periods and its always so exciting for us. Not so ridiculous after all. To be honest masturbation does help relieve cramps. This book made me remember a lot of things. Like my first period which was a magical moment although I was less naïve. I remember how I felt reading up Africa American LGBTQ experiences and terminologies, noting and googling new phrases thinking so there are terms for these! As Joey D says ‘How you talk about the things that matter is what matters’. Or how I initially tried to reconcile my very African existence with the world’s more militant than my family-taught feminism. This book makes me breathe in myself and joyous life about the little big phenomenons. With each chapter you will see yourself in many aspects of the book. Like Harlowe, I have a way I celebrate and treat myself once I get my period, Don’t you?
From its first chapter and introduction into its heroine’s mind I knew this was a novel I could fall in love with. What a baby dyke narrative! I love coming of age novels, chicklit and queer romances. If social politics can be addressed in the narrative I’m hooked. During my teenage years I loved Historical Romance from every corner of the earth. Now I can say Young Adult(YA) Romance is growing tendrils around my heart.
13. Didn’t Come to Kill Anyone. I Came Here to Die. Starting each chapter is exciting because the mysterious name of each chapter promised an intriguing tell. I read the italics title of chapter 13 above and began wondering what Juliet is up to. What new thing will she learn today? FYI Chapter 13’s end made me recall a similar break-up. I love how the style is free form prose verse. It is like reading a novel, a journal and listening to a memoir all at once. With a musing almost reflective tone, humor and steady pace the story progresses. ‘She zipped through the downtown area, a comet hurtling through the darkness of the galaxy.’ ‘Dinosaur-sized butterflies fluttered in my stomach.’ ‘I watched her until she was a speck of magic dust in the distance’. Expert imagery and beautifully written sentences! The novel is largely narrated from Juliet’s first person point of view and dialogues between characters. This brown baby dyke is coming into herself in slow burst of discoveries. Largely unknowing, fiercely loyal Juliet is endearing, caution and cool. She aptly describes herself as thick-bodied, bespectacled, cautious, overtly Puerto Rican and brown skinned, book-nerd, daydreamer. Harlowe Brisbane is another major character in this lesbian, coming of age novel. She is The Pussy Lady, author extraordinaire,flawed mentor and endearing starlight,
I can’t help but wonder all the new experiences and knowledge will they become habits? If yes, will she take them back to the Bronx from Portland? I know what’s it’s like not to notice your own changes or extent of change until you are back home. Lil’ Melvin’s brown bag made my brown eyes mist as my pale pink lips parted into a wide smile. A highly recommended read with 4 fireworks!