Juliet Takes a Breath

Book review by
Barbara Saunders, Common Sense Media
Juliet Takes a Breath Book Poster Image
College student navigates identities in funny, moving tale.

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The story includes deftly embedded biographies of historically important lesbian women and women of color. 

Positive Messages

Know yourself and be yourself. If you can't find your place, make yourself a place.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The central concern of this book is how women manifest love for one another. There are deep, nuanced portraits of relationships between mothers and daughters, female friends, female relatives, and female romantic partners. A multiracial group of feminist women are shown having frank, and sometimes difficult, conversations about race as well as multi-partner romantic relationships. The main character is Puerto Rican American, and Spanish language and Puerto Rican culture are important parts of the story. There are many LGBT characters.

Violence

There are discussions of sexual assault and a scene of young men sexually harassing a young woman in a grocery store.

Sex

Detailed scenes of kissing and lovemaking between two women, sexual fantasies, masturbation, and periods, as well as extensive discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity. There is an excellent example of a consent conversation.

Language

The words "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," the C-word, and "damn" are used. A book called Raging Flower: Empowering Your P---y by Empowering Your Mind is featured heavily in the story; "p---y" is used frequently, beginning on Page 1.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults from college age up drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and smoke pot in numerous scenes, all presented in a positive, casual light. Several characters use pot as a remedy for menstrual symptoms. (The story is set in 2003, so this pot use is illegal.)

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Juliet Takes a Breath tells the story of a Puerto Rican American lesbian college student from the Bronx who comes out to her family and moves to Portland, Oregon, for an internship with a feminist author. There are detailed descriptions of kissing and lovemaking between women, sexual fantasies, sexual arousal, masturbation, and periods, as well as extensive discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity and an excellent example of a consent conversation. Adults from college age up drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and smoke pot in numerous scenes, all presented in a positive, casual light. Several characters use pot as a remedy for menstrual symptoms. The story is set in 2003, so this pot use is illegal. There is discussion of sexual assault and a scene where young men sexually harass a young woman in a grocery store. Strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," "c--t," and "damn," "p---y."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKel K April 27, 2021

Language

This book has some pretty graphic lanuage. Although the book may overall have a good message I was uncomfortable with the choice of vulgar words. Maybe for olde... Continue reading

What's the story?

When JULIET TAKES A BREATH BEGINS, Juliet, a Puerto Rican college student from the Bronx, is gearing up to come out as a lesbian to her parents. She decides to make the announcement the night she's to fly out for the opportunity of a lifetime: going to Portland for a summer internship with an author who wrote a book called Raging Flower about female empowerment. Juliet's family members try to be accepting, though her mother suggests being gay might be just a phase. Portland turns out to be a culture shock, and Juliet feels as much an outsider among the predominantly white hippie scene in Portland as she did in her traditional Puerto Rican neighborhood in New York. Meanwhile, Juliet's girlfriend, who's on the East Coast interning for the Democratic party, is ignoring Juliet's texts and phone messages, and her cousin is inviting her to come visit her in Miami.

Is it any good?

A funny, emotionally true book with an exceptionally compelling narrator. The main character of Juliet Takes A Breath is like a fat, Latinx, lesbian version of Holden Caulfield, with a keen eye for observing all the cultural norms that don't fit her in her assimilation-minded Catholic family in the Bronx, the feminist community in Portland, and with her White girlfriend. As a cousin leads Julia through a minefield of terminology and concepts, readers can follow along and think for themselves about what "identity" really is, and how to show respect and support for other people.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the importance of reading and writing in Juliet Takes a Breath. What book or author has most influenced you and why? 

  • What are the differences between fitting in, being accepted, and being appreciated?

  • How does the author use settings -- the Bronx, Portland, and Miami -- to reveal Juliet's identity and character?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Latinx and LGBTQ stories

Themes & Topics

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