Juliet Takes a Breath

Boom! Box. Dec. 2020. 176p. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781684156115.
Gr 11 Up–A stunning graphic novel adaptation of Rivera’s Juliet Takes a Breath. Juliet Milagros Palante just came out as a lesbian to her Puerto Rican family. While most of them are supportive, her mother thinks that it’s just a phase. The Bronx teen heads off to an internship in Oregon with a famous, white feminist author, hoping to further explore her queer identity. Her world opens up—she meets new friends, experiences heartbreak, falls in love, and learns to accept herself. Rivera’s narrative is equal parts vulnerable and incisive. Moscote’s opulent, jewel-tone illustrations are arresting; the palette of purples and oranges gives the story a warmth and intimacy that readers will appreciate. Depictions of brown and Black bodies are presented with tenderness and fluidity—body positivity shines through in every panel. The diverse cast of characters encompasses people across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, including nonbinary, trans, and gay. Juliet has light brown skin, and some of the friends she makes along the way are Black, Asian, and biracial. Themes of intersectionality, white saviorism, feminism, and racism are thoughtfully explored. Juliet begins a sexual relationship, and there are several scenes with brief nudity, making this appropriate for older teens.
VERDICT This comics version captures the intensity and brilliance of the source material and adds a layer of palpability to the coming-of-age tale. A strong choice for older teens.

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