“Juliet Takes a Breath” by Gabby Rivera | REVIEW

Juliet Takes a Breath is a stunning debut novel by Gabby Rivera that follows Juliet Milagros Pilante as she navigates her way through the world of feminism, radical self-love, coming out, and racism within self-proclaimed “safe spaces.” The novel starts off just before Juliet takes off to Portland, Oregon to intern for her favorite author– a woman named Harlow Brisbane who literally wrote the book on vaginas and feminism. The night before her flight to Portland, she decides to come out to her conservative Puerto Rican family. Even in those few sentences, you can tell that this book has a LOT going on– and it does, in the best way.

I wish I had this book when I was a freshman in college, discovering feminism and self-love. It would have been so incredible to have a narrative from a young woman navigating some of the worlds that I was experiencing for the first time. Moreso, I wish I had it when I was a freshman because it would remind me to acknowledge my white privilege within these spaces and be mindful of it as I navigated these spaces. Although I may be well-intentioned, not acting mindfully and with an intention of respect can have harmful effects on the movement as a whole and others’ experiences.

The writing within this book was absolutely stunning– the quotes I copied down took up 5 pages in my Moleskine! I had such writer’s envy– every word Gabby Rivera wrote was heartbreaking and inspiring and breathtaking all at the same time. How is that possible?

The only negative about the book was simply that there wasn’t enough of it– I wish that Juliet’s summer experience was a bit more thoroughly worked through. There were a few minor storylines that weren’t really wrapped up or were too neatly wrapped up.

We need more novels like this. We need more of Gabby Rivera’s writing.

All I can say is wow.

4.5 STARS.

Note: I received a digital ARC of this novel from the publisher for review.

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