Juliet Takes a Breath

“I’m a messy, over-emotional, book nerd, weirdo, chubby brown human and I needed to learn how to love myself, even the shameful bits.” – Juliet Milagros Palante


The coming-of-age genre can be monotonous, after awhile. First it was mostly boys in heartwarming  narratives that left them indelible in American iconography. Then some novelists and scriptwriters created a spin on the same stories, only this time with girls. Sometimes these stories were injected with some authenticity of the femme experience and sometimes they forgot to change perspectives, like a bad gender-bending copy-and-paste. Then there are stories from diverse groups that broke up the monotony with the very fact that coming-of-age as a non-white person is different than the prevailing picture. The coming-out genre suffered a bit of the same problems, though their very nature was a departure from the mainstream.

These stories matter, the genre matters. We all tend to read/view these stories and immediately  draw contrasts and parallels to our existence. It soothes, comforts, and even validates us in some ways to know we are not so different, but sometimes the absence of us in stories alienates us even further…invalidates us. Where was my young, lesbian, brown, weirdo self? Did she really exist? Did anyone know or care? What would my future look like if my present was so taboo?


No one is expected to have all the answers and artfully spin it into an all encompassing, inclusive, and intersectional tale. Sometimes young queers don’t need generic answers to their very unique set of questions, but rather diverse examples of ways to be. To quote Frida Kahlo,  “I think that little by little, I’ll be able to solve my problems and survive.”

In comes Juliet Takes a Breath.  Juliet Milagros Palante is not out to be your “model minority.” She’s just daring to figure out who she is and be herself. I wish I had this book back when I was 15, living in the Bible Belt, listening to Ani DiFranco and Meshell Ndegeocello, wondering if it ever truly would get better. I’m glad the youth have it now, shit, I’m glad I have it now. LGBTQ+, feminism, intersectionality, theodicy, QWOC, …what does it all mean and where do I fit? Juliet journeys to answer these questions for herself . She meets some gentle humans that are willing to help her find the answers, and she also meets some who judge her lack of term awareness and conclude she’s not really all that down. Safe spaces are found in the strangest places.

“[This book] should be for everybody I think everybody should read this book, BUT . . . [awkward, frizzy-haired, chubby, brown girl] out of all the shit in this world that is not made for you, this is the thing that is made for you and it comes with love and it comes with me honoring you just as you are…”- Gabby Rivera for GayWrites

quote graphic created by Laura Wooley
Quote graphic created by Laura Wooley










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