Lesbian 'growth' and epistemic disobedience

placing Gabby Rivera's Juliet Takes a Breath within Puerto Rican literature and queer theory

Research output: Contribution to Newspaper/Magazine/WebsiteArticle

Abstract

Gabby Rivera's Juliet Takes a Breath (2016) is only the second coming-of-age lesbian novel written by a Puerto Rican in the diaspora. A signifcant development within the Young Adult genre, I propose that the book functions as a symbolic continuation to Magali García Ramis's Felices días, tío Sergio, and its main character, Lidia, a young girl who has been read as "proto-lesbian" (La Fountain-Stokes). Similarly, I suggest that Rivera's work indirectly converses with other Puerto Rican literary texts and activist icons produced in the diaspora through Juliet's journey to achieve socio-political awareness. Nineteen-year-old Juliet Palante leaves The Bronx to spend her summer in Portland, Oregon, working as an intern for Harlowe Brisbane, fctitious author of Raging Flower: Empowering your Pussy by Empowering your Mind. There she will learn about preferred gender pronouns and polyamory, among other terms that, as a "feminist," she is assumed to know. This essay elucidates how her experience reveals the gap between the white, hipster Portland community and the reality she lives in The Bronx--a breach exemplary of common issues of exclusion of the working classes from feminist movements, and the fissures between white queer theory and brown queer life. Therefore, I propose that Rivera's work presents her interaction with white feminism, as well as the library, as sources of hidden truths and ideologies that enable Juliet to follow her path to epistemic disobedience and decolonial thinking (Mignolo). Juliet Takes a Breath serves as an instrument for personal, but most importantly gender, sexual, racial, and national discovery that suggests a movement forward within Puerto Rican literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages324-345
Number of pages23
Volume30
No.2
Specialist publicationCentro Journal
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018

Keywords

  • decolonial thinking
  • Magali García Ramis
  • Gabby Rivera
  • Young Adult literature
  • Puerto Rican diaspora
  • Puerto Rican lesbians
  • Latinx lesbians

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