Juliet represents the road less traveled. Will Lena take it?
Lena Newman is 17, her best friend’s a cheerleader, her boyfriend’s a football player, and as far as everyone is concerned, her life is sorted. But that’s before she befriends the new girl. Juliet is confident, slightly damaged, drop-dead gorgeous and a lesbian.
Lena realizes that her interest goes beyond just friendship. She sets off on a path of self-discovery where the loyalty of those closest to her will be tested.
Genre: Young adult, romance, LGBT (lesbian/gay/bi)
The best way to describe Just Juliet is that it’s about as real as coming out gets.
Now, at the risk of sounding like the promotion for MTV’s next sensational reality show, allow me to elaborate on what I mean by that. LGBT books often endeavor to become the battle grounds of the fight for acceptance, inclusion, and representation in society, either by depicting the horror stories of violence, isolation, and humiliation teens and young adults who come out go through, or by depicting a society in which queer people already have been “normalized” and act as key figures in their communities without backlash. These are the two stereotypical routes LGBT books tend to fall into, which could lead readers to think there isn’t much diversity in the genre.
Charlotte Reagan is breaking out of that binary with this fantastic YA romance. Instead of falling into either worn out extremes of overwhelming homophobia that leads to turmoil and trauma, or the euphoria of accepting communities full of queer and diverse citizens, Reagan creates a realistic landscape, where love, hate, indifference, misunderstanding, and all the spectrum of feeling and experience reside. While there are characters who outright profess their intolerance of Lena and Juliet’s relationship, we also encounter the real life experiences of friends who don’t quite get it, but are open to learning, as well as the awkwardness that can bloom within a family after coming out, and how the love and support of parents evolves after the fact.
I really like the strides this story takes to show those multiple realities of being a queer teen, because it illustrates that similarly to sexuality, life is not made of binaries that can be conveniently sorted and categorized; while one kid may have a full support system, another may be tossed into the street and disowned, and another may have a slightly jaded mixture of acceptance, confusion, and ignorance. And that’s real.
The voices of these teens are authentic and relatable to the youth of today, as we explore not only what it means for Lena to discover that she’s attracted to both men and women, but also what it means to fall in love for the first time, especially on the precipice of college and young adult hood. Along with witty dialogue and enviable friendships, Reagan creates a story about navigating the many difficulties of finding what you want to do and who you want to be with for the rest of your life.
This is definitely a good story if you’re looking for something more lighthearted and casual, and if you’ve got no objections to a classic teen romance, I’d say that Just Juliet is the book for you!
About the Author
Charlotte Reagan writes young adult romances focusing primarily on the LGBT+ community. She hopes to have lighthearted stories that bring about hope, laughter, and maybe even a few tears. She lives in a small Texas town with her cat, and can either be found writing or off traveling.