The June she lit book club selection is Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera for Pride Month. With a Latina lesbian as the main character, the 2019 book has enjoyed a market resurgence in the last two years, which has led to a recent banning.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Pride Month kicked off with a proclamation from President Joe Biden for the month of June to acknowledge the history of LGBTQI+ individuals and celebrate the diversity within the community in the U.S. This year’s Pride Month in literary circles has become a time to reflect on the many books currently being banned across the country from school libraries by LGBTQI+ authors and/or about LGBTQI+ characters.
Author Gabby Rivera calls herself a “Bronx-born queer Puerto Rican babe on a mission to create the wildest, most fun stories ever” in the book flap of the original publication of Juliet Takes a Breath from Dial Books, a Penguin Random House imprint. The book received a different rendition of a cover for paperback in 2021. Simon & Schuster and BOOM! Box in 2020 created a graphic novel version of the book.
Earlier this year, Juliet Takes a Breath was listed as a banned book in Forsyth County, Georgia. The school district there announced in February that it planned to ban eight books, according to local media outlets.
“Administratively we reviewed the books and we have over 500 thousand books in our media centers in Forsyth County Schools, but there were 8 of them we determined were not appropriate to be in public schools,” Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden told WSB TV 2 Action News in Atlanta.
The school district serves 53,000 students in 41 schools, according to the district’s website. There was only one copy of Juliet Takes a Breath at one high school, the Forsyth County News reports.
The book follows “a self-proclaimed closeted Puerto Rican baby dyke from the Bronx,” the book’s synopsis reads. She comes out to her family the night before she has to fly to Portland, Oregon, for an internship with a feminist writer. While her family may not understand her coming out, she’s also worried her new boss won’t understand her cultural background. Going out in the queer community in Portland gives her a sense of purpose as she navigates her new home and figures out her identity.
There are references of illegal cannabis use, discussion around sexual assault, and a sexual harassment scene in the book, Common Sense Media reports.
We will meet online June 26, 2022 at 11 a.m. EST.