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

Who: HarperTeen

When: August 30th 2016

How: A copy of this novel was provided by HarperCollins for review via Edelweiss.

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?

3cats2Likes:

1) I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel where a character is both queer and religious, so to read about Joanna’s religion was something interesting and new to me. I really liked how she spoke of acceptance and love in terms of her Christianity. I think this book will be so important to teens and young adults and adults that are queer or questioning and also Christian (or religious in general, perhaps) because it speaks of acceptance and the meshing of these two aspects of a person’s life so beautifully.

2) The romance was sweet, and I loved how in love the two girls were, and how Mary Carlson was so passionate about being open and honest and in love with Joanna. The fact that the romantic and sexy times were not off the page or fade to black is a huge plus, and we need more LGBTQIAP+ books with this.

Dislikes:

1) I wasn’t a huge fan of the entire premise of Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit. The fact that Joanna’s father made out like he was oh so progressive and loved her and accepted her … and then asked her to pretend to be straight was something that I loathed. And I was somewhat disappointed in Joanna for going along with it. Sure, she wants her radio show so she can (hopefully) change Christian attitude towards queerness, but at the cost of her hiding her own queerness? It didn’t really weigh up for me.

2) Joanna was a character that I never really felt like I got to know when I was reading Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit. All I know is that she’s gay, and she wants to have a radio show about Christianity and the youth of today. Yes, both of those things are important. But what about all the other facts to her personality? I never felt like they were unveiled, and to be honest I just wanted to know more about her. The only vibes I got from her were immaturity (she called her stepmother “Three” to her face because she was her father’s third wife. Wow. Just wow), and the willingness to change her personality because someone asked her to (as well as asking his daughter to hide her identity, Joanna’s father also wanted her to dress and act like all the other girls in town, too. And Joanna just … did).

3) Another thing that I wasn’t completely on board with was the bisexual erasure in this novel. For the most part the book is about Joanna falling for Mary Carlson. Mary Carlson is apparently into some jock guy, but sends flirty signals in Joanna’s direction. In questioning this Joanna thinks something along the lines of “she’s got to be gay”. Because girls can’t like boys and girls, right? It was just so disappointing to read that because Joanna is supposed to be such an awesome queer champion, and then jumps on the bi erasure train at the first chance she gets. This didn’t sit well with me at all.

4) When Joanna finds out that her stepmother is pregnant, she stalls on telling her family that she has a girlfriend. Because apparently that would make her stepmother miscarry. S e r i o u s l y? Like, I get that her pregnancy is kind of shaky, but the fact that Joanna didn’t put an end to her father’s demand that she hide her sexuality because of the stepmother and her baby seemed so ridiculous and farfetched to me.

~

Overall, I wasn’t in love with Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit, but there were definitely aspects that I did enjoy.

© 2016, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning: ableism (mentalism), homophobia, emotional abuse, and bullying in this novel

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Posted on: August 26, 2016 • By: Chiara

12 Responses to Likes and Dislikes of Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

  1. Tasya says:

    Ooh I’m sorry this one doesn’t meet your expectations! The premise was okay for me, but Joanna seems like an unlikeable main character to me. Calling her new step mom three is just really rude. Lovely review, Chiara!<3

    • Chiara says:

      Me, too! I mean, I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love it, either :( Joanna was definitely a character that I was not completely fond of. And yeah, the nickname thing was so childish and rude :/ Thanks, lovely!

  2. Valerie says:

    To be honest I am really only reading this because of peaches and also because f/f romance. (Although now hearing about the bi-erasure makes me sad).

    I’ll be back here soon with my thoughts because I put this on hold at the library, so I should be the first to get it when it comes out in like 5 days!

    • Chiara says:

      Be warned, peaches are only mentioned twice. Which made me question the title, to be honest, haha. The bi erasure was such a disappointment, and definitely decreased my love for the book.

      I look forward to hearing what you thought, Valerie!

  3. This one seems to have its ups and downs. I was really intrigued about this book, especially with all the diversity oriented promoting it has garnered, and it is indeed unfortunate to see those problematic aspects. But I might give this one a try because I’ve been really wanting to read a book that deals with the coexistence of religion and the LGBT community, and it would be enlightening to read how this book tackles it.

    • Chiara says:

      It definitely had its pros and cons, Mish! I think if you are looking for a book that tackles being religious and gay, then this is probably a good title for you!

  4. I have read books that deal with sexuality AND religion, and I do appreciate those. There are many people that can’t come to terms with themselves or others because of religion.

    Despite not, I’m not sure I’d really like this one. I don’t appreciate the bi erasure either, and it sounds like Joanna is a bit too immature.

    -Lauren

    • Chiara says:

      I think they are super important! Especially for people who are trying to come to terms with being aligned with a religion (with members) that might say that being LGBTQIAP+ is wrong/a sin.

      The bi erasure was such a disappointment, and Joanna was not the most likeable character, unfortunately.

  5. Romi says:

    I think books that bring a person’s religion into the story, whether it be fantasy, contemporary, romance, paranormal, it can be such a wonderful thing. Because religion can be so utterly important and such an integral part of people, and yet in the books I read the characters either mention one thing about going to church or they don’t talk about it at all? And I would like the experience of getting to know a character’s beliefs and what is important to them, and how it intersects with other aspects of their life (assumedly, in books, the parts of their life that we’re reading specifically about). With LGBTIQA+ characters, I would enjoy to see them live with their religion and how they express it and represent themselves with it.
    I can’t say I think this sounds like that book, but reading your review has made me WANT that book, and I’m really happy about that.

    The fact that Joanna says “Three” to her dad’s wife is unnaceptable and… I don’t know any of these characters, but it’s so hurtful and not okay in any way. And assumedly she didn’t then apologise, since you didn’t mention that?

    And for someone who is trying to raise queer awareness and acceptance, it frustrates me that she doesn’t seem realise there are sexualities besides straight, gay and lesbian. Bi erasure is something I am so tired of and because promoting acceptance is part of Joanna’s character arc, how is it okay that she is saying you have to EITHER like guys or girls. And if she’s in love with someone who is also interested in guys, it’s hurtful as all heck to say that “well actually you’re not. You only like me.”

    The fact Joanna goes along with everything her dad asks of her… is hurtful to herself, but a part of me also understands why she might have gone along with what he asked. I feel like it should get to a point where she stops, though, which hopefully it does, although I feel like that should have been at a point earlier than it assumedly did. But her just doing what he asked, apparently not resisting it or debating it or even fighting it, that could have been portrayed in a way that at least gave you her point of view on it, rather than her just doing it.

    I’m sorry this wasn’t a better read, Chiara, but a lovely review nonetheless. xx

    • Chiara says:

      This book is not exactly the one you just described, but definitely the closest I’ve ever read to something like that. There’s no real insight into Joanna’s specific beliefs, rather just her general Christianity and how if all humans were made in God’s image then how can she be ~wrong~ because she likes girls. I hope that there is another queer book that looks at religion, and is perhaps more like the book you just realised you wanted.

      No, Joanna doesn’t apologise for it. She just stops calling her Three, and starts using her name. And the stepmum was so completely nice and forgiving it was almost unrealistic.

      I was 100% completely and utterly disappointed. And even though Mary Carlson did turn out to be gay, it was really shitty to read about Joanna just presuming she would be. It would have been awesome if Mary Carlson HAD been bi. It could have opened up a really important discussion.

      She only stops right at the end, really. I mean, I didn’t hate her for doing it, but I also didn’t respect the decision because I didn’t feel like the reward was great enough, especially since her dad was all: you can’t talk about queer stuff on the radio until way later. So yeah, I didn’t really like it.

      Thank you, lovely. <3

  6. Clara Cheng says:

    The book title really sounds adorable! It’s sad that you couldn’t love as much though.

    http://laxsourire.blogspot.my

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