Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Review: Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
Series: Standalone
Published: August 30th, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
432 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary YA/LGBTQ
Acquired this book: Via Edelweiss in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}
 


Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.

Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?

 

What appealed to me initially about Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit was the premise of having a character who’s out and proud but has to basically go back into the closet for various reasons. It was an interesting reversal from the norm, especially when you throw in Jo’s faith and the fact her dad is an evangelical minister. 

I liked Jo a lot. I appreciated her strength, I appreciated that she was flawed, that she made mistakes and owned them, and that she was passionate about her beliefs. I was indignant and angry on her behalf when her dad asked her to lie low for the year, but part of me understood the reasons and thought Jo handled it amazingly well. Even though I hated how much she had to/chose to lie, I also understood that she’d been put in an impossible situation, and I respected her for keeping her word to her dad, even when it was incredibly painful and stressful for her. Besides a great main character, this book absolutely shone with incredible secondary characters. From characters we saw a lot of, like Jo’s new friend Barnum (seriously, I need a BTB in my life, pronto) and her stepmom Elizabeth, to more minor characters like Jo’s adopted grandmother Althea and her new step-granddad Tater, this book had a terrific cast of characters. I liked the diversity of the characters and the variety of personalities, and that there were characters you simply didn’t like or even hated. Not every group of friends is wonderful and supportive and like-minded, and I liked how that came across with Jo’s new group of friends.

There were a lot of positives about this book, but I was also conflicted at times while reading. The first half of the book was slow at times for me, and I started to get annoyed with how long the ‘is Mary Carlson gay or not’ question dragged on (spoiler: 50% of the book). I think the book would have been even stronger if it had been slightly more condensed, especially at the beginning. I was going to give this book three stars until I reached the end and pretty much cried my way through the last couple of chapters. I’ve read books where people come out to unsupportive or downright hateful people and then those same people learn the error of their ways and do a complete one-eighty within the span of pages; this, thank goodness, was not that. Bigotry isn’t cured overnight, or sometimes at all, just like forgiveness isn’t always an instantaneous thing, and I appreciated how both those things were dealt with. I thought the ending was absolutely beautiful and perfect, and it left me satisfied, happy, and hopeful.

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit is going to be a really important, meaningful book to a lot of people, whether they’re struggling with their sexuality, working toward coming out, or trying to figure out how to find balance and harmony in being queer and also being religious/having strong faith. It’s also an important book for straight people and allies, giving them an inside look at the struggles, and also how they can help and support queer friends or family members. That’s not the only reason you should read this book, though; it’s also funny, touching, poignant, sexy, and a wonderful exploration of complex family relationships and friendships.




Have you read Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Have you read any other books that deal with sexuality/orientation and religion?
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2 comments:

  1. I'm glad the ending was so emotional for you and that it basically made up for those slower parts. I'm very determined to read this as soon as possible and I'm pretty sure I'm going to enjoy it.
    Great review!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love when the ending of a book saves the whole book! I'm glad you liked this one. I love the title. Great!

    ReplyDelete

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