Book review: Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit, by Jaye Robin Brown

brown-georgia-peachesBrown, Jaye Robin. Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit. HarperTeen, 2016. HC. $17.99. ISBN 978-0062270986.

When out-and-proud Atlanta teenager Joanna Gordon’s widowed radio evangelist father remarries and moves his expanded family to the much smaller hamlet of Rome, Georgia, he also asks Jo for a huge favor: for the sake of his ministry and his new conservative in-laws, he wants Jo to stay silent about her sexual orientation during her upcoming senior year in high school. Despite much inner angst, Jo reluctantly agrees, especially when Reverend Dad promises her a radio talk show of her own as bait.

Jo eventually finds herself with a new group of straight and somewhat hetero-sex-obsessed friends, but everything changes when she meets the sister of one of her new male pals. As much as she intends to honor her promise to Reverend Dad, Mary Carlson is just too lovely to ignore. When Jo discovers that the attraction is mutual, and that Mary Carlson is closeted yet ready to reveal herself, Jo’s life becomes very complicated.

Joanna is an engrossing narrator, as she also deals with the tribulation trials of her in-your-face lesbian best friend in Atlanta, and her young stepmother’s pregnancy, along with pretending to be one thing to her new crowd and something quite different for Mary Carlson. At times, in fact, I found the plot’s twists and permutations slightly hard to follow, but Jo’s engaging voice generally guides us through. Significantly, Joanna also lives her life as a gay teenager of faith, giving her character and this novel added uniqueness.

This lengthy but quick-read book is recommended for young adult LGBT fiction collections, though grown-ups of all persuasions may find much to admire in it as well.

Cathy Ritchie
Acquisitions/Selection Services
Dallas (TX) Public Library


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