So this is a hard one for me to review. On the one hand, this is an amazing book. Like so good that I couldn't put it down. I had it on my phone and I was picking it up to read a few pages between classes, on my breaks, in the car (when someone else was driving). I was wholly invested in the characters and the mystery and their recovery that I needed to know what was coming next. On the other hand, the author made a choice that completely derailed my momentum and I found myself obsessively doing research to figure out if this choice was based on fact or if it was just some artistic license to push the story forward. This is a problem I have that other readers may not. I'm a researcher at heart. I tried to be a writer once, but what I discovered was that what I really loved was the research, discovering something new, following a trail to see where it led. TO me that's fun. It's probably why I have degrees in History, Library Science and Cultural Heritage Preservation - all three are super research heavy. When I attempted to be a writer I had binders of cool tidbits or research, but no real desire to put it into a story. When I read (or watch TV and movies) sometimes a fact will jump out to me as not quite right and I'm off. I'll fall into the black hole of research for hours and if it bears fruit, if the author's claims check out I'm all in. Nothing is cooler then learning something new from a book, especially if that thing seems far fetched. However, if I can't fact check it. If there is no discernible facts to back up the claim, then I'm out. I'll finish the book, I might even enjoy the book (as I did here), but there will definitely be a little cloud above it that won't go away. When I talk about the book, there will always be an aside, or an *, "This was a great book, but..." So that's where I am with this book... It's great, really great, but... and in order to talk about that, be warned, there will be spoilers.
This was such a powerful book. Focusing on Juliet, a 19 year Latina from the Bronx, the story follows her as she tried to figure out who she is and what she wants out of life. I personally loved that Juliet is both completely sure of who she is, and also totally confused by what that means for her. The book opens with her cold emailing the author (Harlowe) of her favorite book and remarkably getting a response and an offer to be Harlowe's summer intern. Taking a giant leap of faith Juliet come's out to her family and then promptly flies across the country to take the opportunity of a lifetime.
Harlowe's world in Portland, OR is a far cry from Juliet's in NY and author Gabby Rivera does a phenomenal job weaving the stories of all the people Juliet meets together to create a tapestry of humanity that allows the reader to look at the world we live in.
My only negative for this book is that the world Juliet is thrust into is full of new worlds and acronymns (like poly for instance). Initially Juliet doesn't want to admit that she doesn't know what all these things mean, afraid to look stupid in front of someone she looks up to. However, Juliet's lack of understanding can also represent the readers lack of understanding. While I was able to follow the vast majority of what was being referred to, there were still moments that I had to step away from the story to look something up, which killed the momentum of the story.
That aside, this book is such a worthy read and provides a look at what it's like to trust yourself and take a chance on a life you might never have experienced otherwise. That's a message that goes beyond the protagonist and her story and everyone can relate to.
After this point there will be spoilers.... you have been warned. If you haven't seen The Last Jedi yet, enjoy this trailer, buy your tickets and go see the movie! I'll see the rest of you after the break.
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