Gabby Rivera Juliet Takes a Breathe really blew me away. This book blew me away. In fact it hit me so hard that I had to take a reading break for two weeks and to fully process how beautiful this piece of writing is. Obviously, it has a bit of work to do, the ending felt a bit rushed to me but apart from that
This was a really personal, revealing and life affirming read for me. So much so in fact that I have been putting off writing about this for about three weeks because I wanted to get it right. I decided that the best way to tell about all the amazing things about this book was by breaking it down into ‘things I liked’ section.
So here goes, things I liked about this:
- Its good to shut-up the anti-diversity brigade
While the book is centred on Juliet, a lesbian who is also Latina, it does not fixate on this. I am neither gay nor Latina but I found myself fully relating to and enjoying Juliet’s journey. The preface especially broke my heart (in a really good way). For me, this book was also about a young woman figuring out her life and her politics. A book that everyone should read and appreciate.
So if you come across people who don’t see the value in diverse literature or feel that it ‘restricts their choice’, you need to give them a copy of this book.
- Feminism and Intersectionality
YES! This book perfectly explains why intersectionality is the key to life!!
It articulated very clearly something I have felt a long time about mainstream feminism but couldn’t put my finger on. The feeling you get when you are trying to reconcile the theory of feminism to your real life as a brown women in the western hemisphere. The feeling that you constantly contradicting yourself.
I have always had trouble figuring out whether I’m ‘doing it right’. If I am actually practicing and living a feminist life and not just ranting about it on this blog and elsewhere. Reading Juliet Takes a Breathe was like talking to friend who was going to through the same thing. It was reassuring. It is a really useful reminder that there is no such this as universal feminism. That the intersectionality of class, race, ethnicity, gender are not just side notes but important ways in which each of us experiences things
People that have read my blog before will notice that I am obsessed with the idea of Otherness. Of how as communities and individuals we draw illusionary circles around ourselves and call that Us and everyone outside it Them.
I was completely awestruck the first time I read Stuart Hall’s essay Culture, Identity and Diaspora. His statement that ‘Otherness is an internal compulsion’ is the most revealing but also conflicting thing I have ever come across. It showed me that systems of oppression – White hetero-patriarchy in the case of this book- are perpetuated at the level of thought and culture by recruiting the very people it oppresses to the do the dirty work for them. This was also extremely depressing. It made me realise that to break a system of oppression you are not only constantly struggling against that system but also yourself. When you think about it this way things become very bleak.
But I loved the way that Juliet’s narrative challenged this notion of Otherness. She is an active participant in her life and not a victim. This book is not a story about the struggles of a gay WOC but a story about a strong woman taking the reigns in her hand. Turning that internal feeling of otherness into something she can understand and using it to fuel her.
GO READ THIS BLOODY BOOK.