Title: Just Juliet
Author: Charlotte Reagan
Length: 224 Pages
Category: Young Adult, Contemporary
At a Glance: A sweet love story between two high school girls.
Reviewed By: Ben
Blurb: 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.
Review: I have to admit I usually steer away from lesbian YA because it hits too close to home, but I decided to take a chance on this one. The story centers around Lena, our protagonist, and the new girl at school, Juliet, who lives with her dad and brother. Juliet had to move schools because her old friends turned on her. Nearly everyone in Juliet’s household is gay, and it’s become a safe place for gay kids.
Lena comes from a not as accepting background, but definitely a background I’m more familiar with: a family concerned more about appearances, parents who aren’t home much, etc. Though Lena’s home life isn’t the most supportive, she finds solace in Juliet’s household as she struggles to come to grips with her own identity.
The part of this story that really worked for me was the setting created by the group of girls Lena hung around—they seemed to be the bitchy cheerleader types I knew well (at a distance) in school. I like how they said thoughtless things, but when it came down to it, they were there for one another. It seemed very realistic; however, because everyone being an asshole to everyone else seemed to be a theme, the story also seemed to suggest that no one was truly an asshole… if that makes sense.
The story is divided into many short scenes, and in one of those scenes, Juliet and Lena go to a Zombie flag football game. In the end, Juliet becomes a zombie, and Lena lets herself get tagged. She says it was the first time she’s lost Zombie Apocalypse since the seventh grade. That moment really hit me in the feels; the scene was superbly done. I would argue that it should have been longer, but it’s possible I’m greedy.
The things that didn’t work for me: There was a lot of summary, a lot, and only some of the scenes in the book worked together to form an interesting storyline. Otherwise, most of the scenes failed to bring any tension to the story. Those that did were swallowed by the more boring ones, and the pages and pages of summary. I was able to latch on to a few golden nuggets, but I struggled to finish this novel.
There’s also a lengthy and poorly done epilogue. The epilogue changed the tone of the story immensely, and it was, in my opinion, a cheap way to make it an easy HEA. It completely robbed the ending of its emotional impact.
That all being said, this book has an amazing number of reviews and most of them are great, so don’t take my word for it. If lesbian YA contemporary fiction is your thing, maybe give this one a shot.
You can buy Just Juliet here: