Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit ~ Jaye Robin Brown review [@epicreads @jayerobinbrown @harperteen]

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
August 30, 2016
432 pages
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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?

There was a whole lot more to Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit than I was expecting. It is a smart, thoughtful and funny ale with a fantastic amount of heat at its core.

I loved that Joanna was not the 'typical' gay girl nor was she the 'typical' pastor's daughter. She is someone who is gay and knows and loves that about herself, but her faith is also very important to her. The move from Atlanta to small town Rome, Georgia prior to her senior year would already be tough fro Jo, but her dad asking her to not let on that she's a lesbian complicates everything further. Especially once she agrees.

Every time it seems like you know what Joanna is going to do (or not do), what choice she'll make, what the stakes are and what the ramifications will be, something complicates everything again.

Each twist throws everything perfectly back into question. It seemed like the choices Joanna should make were so clear, so obvious but her reasons for making the promise, then for keeping it all make such sense. You can really understand why she's so conflicted and how she's in a difficult place.

This is a book that will definitely provide some hope for anyone queer who needs to know that religion and faith can still be an accepting, welcoming place for them. It should also be a reaffirming read for someone who isn't but wants to see that same message.

I really (like really) appreciate that there are now YA books that are not only accepting of characters who are religious and/or have faith but, especially, that there are novels showing that not all faith communities (or people) are bigoted or exclusionary.

That's all not mentioning that I love these characters. I loved Joanna and her desire to be true to herself but still respect her dad's wishes, to achieve her long-term goal, but be happy in the present, too. I loved Mary Carlson, Gemma, George, Betsy, Elizabeth and B.T.B - who they each are, their relationships with each other, how they deal with tough situations but also when they're lighthearted.

This review is getting (or has already gotten) too long but suffice it to say that this novel was really well done. It tackled a lot of topics (not just around homosexuality) without ever feeling like it was any sort of 'message' book. It is a great read.

thank you to the publisher for my finished copy to review

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