Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of Juliet Takes a Breath: The Graphic Novel by Gabby Rivera and Celia Moscote

Juliet Takes a Breath Cover Art

Juliet Takes a Breath: The Graphic Novel by Gabby Rivera and Celia Moscote
BOOM! Box / BOOM! Studios
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
ISBN: 9781684156115

Meet Juliet, a queer Puerto Rican college student from the Bronx eager to begin her internship in Portland with white feminist author Harlowe Brisbane. Unfortunately, Juliet quickly feels overwhelmed and frustrated as she realizes there’s a lot she doesn’t know about women’s history, feminism, or even her own identity. Compounding her misery are a break-up with her girlfriend Lainie and a fight with her mother, who refuses to accept that Juliet is a lesbian. When Harlowe uses Juliet’s internship to justify her own racism, Juliet is forced to look elsewhere for community. She finds love and support in her extended family, a writing group for queer women of color, and a very cute library intern named Kira.

Teen readers will immediately relate to Juliet, a strong yet vulnerable protagonist, and her journey of self-discovery. The story includes many engaging secondary characters representing diverse identities and body types. Readers will appreciate the sex- and body-positive attitudes shown throughout, which are enhanced by the lush illustrations. This is a fast-paced adaptation of Rivera’s prose novel, so events occasionally feel rushed, but Juliet’s growth remains a believable and appealing story arc until the end.

Hand this title to teens who enjoy coming-of-age stories like Colleen AF Venable’s Kiss Number Eight or Kevin Panetta’s Bloom. In addition to the prose version of Juliet Takes a Breath, readers who enjoyed this title should take a look at Rivera’s comic series America, which features time-travelling teenage superhero America Chavez. 

Kathleen J. Barker

Other Nominated Titles

  • Delicates by Brenna Thummler (March 21, 2021)
  • Blue Flag, v.7 by Kaito (April 20, 2021)
  • Moonstruck, v.3 by Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle, Claudia Aguirre, and Caitlin Quirk (December 15, 2020)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams will feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation will be listed as well. At year’s end, the team will use that list of nominated titles to select a final list and Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are also made available on The Hub.

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Great Graphic Novels for Teens

Great Graphic Novels for Teens Blogging Team @ YALSA's The Hub.