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