REVIEW | Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

juliet takes a breath

Publication Date: 18th January 2016
Published By: Riverdale Avenue Books
Pages: 276


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 the whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favourite 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, Halowe, and most importantly, herself. 


This seemed to be a book that was all about discovering who you are, discovering where you belong, and how white feminism and inter sectional feminism are two different brands. The first half of the book focused heavily on white feminism and Juliet seemed to lap it up, none of it was ever confronted or questioned, but then she was introduced to intersectional feminism in the second half of the book. For me, this made the second half of the book far more enjoyable and I read this much faster than the first half.

This is to be expected, as Juliet has just been introduced to feminism and is learning about the way POC have been mistreated in history and how they are still mistreated today. There’s some heavily problematic stuff for a good portion of this book, so I think a warning for that here is necessary as well as a trigger warning for sexual assault.


For me, there wasn’t really much of a plot. It was heavily character driven by Juliet and her growth as a character. I’ve never been into “coming-of-age” stories, and I find myself not enjoying books that are about people discovering themselves but I wanted to give it a try anyway as it’s been a while. The book was also pretty heavy on discussion of white feminism, and the variety of people who belong in feminism and all deserve a space (especially trans people/POC). I usually really like character driven stories, but not this time. I think the plot just really needed a bit more substance for my taste.


Juliet was a really interesting character. She wasn’t super headstrong and she didn’t know what she wanted, but she continued walking on a path she was unsure of anyway and I really admire that. I admire how she gave people second chances, how she had a strong and loving heart. She was willing to learn, from all angles, and of course found a place among other queer Latinx people. She was kinder to people than she probably should have been.

Other characters I found quite annoying. This was, being a self discovery type of book, of course mostly focused on Juliet but the other characters didn’t have much depth to them. A majority were very ignorant. Harlowe was just…irritating. She’s a White Feminist, and also one of those people who thinks hugging a tree will solve your problems (I’m actually a person who really enjoys nature, but…it won’t fix your problems). It’s a good thing Juliet was such an awesome character, but the characters do change and get much better in the second half of the book.


It kind of read like a textbook to me, in parts, a textbook on feminism. I think that was a good thing, as I am an intersectional feminist but I am white and learning from POC is something we, as white people, should never stop doing. It did get a little exhausting after a while, though, I’ll admit but it was necessary.


To summarize, I gave this a three out of five stars. I think this was definitely written for other people who are queer and Latina, and that you would get so much more joy out of this than I did if you were. This book was not a bad book, I encourage you to read it, but personally I didn’t and couldn’t connect with it and it kind of felt a little flat to me.

Until next time,

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