Juliet Takes a Breath

Boom! Box. Dec. 2020. 176p. ISBN 9781684156115. pap. $14.99. Rated: Teen+.
In this graphic adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name, 19-year-old Juliet Milagros Palante explores race, gender, sexuality, identity, and more, over the course of a single summer in Portland, OR, interning for feminist author Harlowe Brisbane. As a lifelong resident of the Bronx, Juliet struggles to adapt to life in Portland—people inquire as to her preferred pronouns and cheer themselves up by hugging trees, Harlowe babbles about auras and lunar phases and tasks her with an impossibly vague research project. Even worse, Juliet’s mother is convinced she’s not actually a lesbian, but going through a phase, and her girlfriend Lainie won’t take her calls. Luckily, she finds friendship with Harlowe’s step-kid Phen and library intern Kira, and a mentor in queer theologian Maxine. Soon, Juliet is high on what feels like revolutionary notions about life, freedom, and self-actualization, but after a series of devastating betrayals leave her reeling, she’s forced to look inward to decide who she really is and wants to be.
VERDICT Rivera (America. Vol. 2: Fast and Fueronta) adapts her own novel with artist Moscote, and while some sequences feel unsatisfyingly summarized, it’s difficult not to root for a character as empathetic as Juliet.
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