Tuesday, March 21, 2017

#TBRChallenge Reading: Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

2017 TBR Reading Challenge
Book: Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
Author: Jaye Robin Brown
My Categories: Lesbian YA Fiction
Wendy Crutcher's Category: Comfort Read

This review is almost a week late, and I have written it very reluctantly. I detested the book. It was the antithesis of a comfort read. Given my strong negative reaction, I have been foundering about where I should begin with the story and what I should say.

The premise of the story is very interesting. Joanna Gordon is the daughter of a radio evangelist and is a person of faith and also gay. Her father, Anthony, accepts her fully, or so she thinks, and she's encouraged to offer a series on his radio channel for other gay teens who might be interested in God. To Joanna, it is not inconceivable to think that God loves her just as she is. She does not need to dress in a particular manner or behave a certain way or give up living life on her terms to be acceptable to Him. And she wants other gay teens to feel the same acceptance.

However, the summer before her senior year, in a whirlwind marriage, Joanna's dad marries a younger woman. Elizabeth's condition of marriage is that Anthony and Joanna move from Atlanta to her small religious town in northern Georgia. After they move (not before), Anthony tells Joanna to not be so gay in this new town, to not dress Goth, and in general to not behave in a manner to rile up Elizabeth's relatives and the townspeople. And she should do this for him. In other words, this father who purportedly accepted his daughter's sexuality was uprooting her in her senior year and putting her back in the closet. In order to please her dad, she complies and pretends to be a twinset-wearing straight girl.

At school, she slowly gets in with the popular crowd, but that is how she meets the gorgeous Mary Carlson. How is she supposed to keep her eyes and her hands to herself? How her heart yearns and her body burns. So what is Joanna going to do?

Like I said, this book had promise. But unfortunately, Joanna spoiled it all. She's so self-involved and takes everything that is happening around her so personally. And she's thoughtless, rude to people around her, and generally does not hold good thoughts of most of the people in the book. In general, I found that many of the characters, other than the fabulous BTB, are selfish and mean-spirited. I can read about unlikable characters but not about mean characters. And that is all I have to say about this book. If you've read this book, please do share your thoughts.


azteclady said...

Well, that sucks (good premise ruined by poor characterization--or, in this case, a petty heroine)

Keira Soleore said...

Yes, pettiness, whininess, or meanness are such a turn-off.

azteclady said...

It's interesting, because it may take me a while to warm to a prickly/disagreeable/'bitchy' heroine, but meanness/pettiness are a deal breaker.

Of course, as with everything, it depends on one's perspective and personal baggage to see the same character as one thing or another.

Keira Soleore said...

In addition to personal perspective, I think it also depends on a writer's skill. I have been surprised before to see a character start out as a deal-breaker but grow and change into someone to be reckoned with. For My Lady's Heart by Kinsale comes to mind.

azteclady said...

Yes, I think that's what I mean by warming up to the character; for a bit it seems s/he is irredeemable, then the reader is shown the whys and wherefores, and it becomes just one aspect of the character's personality/make up, instead of a fatal flaw.

I'm thinking this can also work in the inverse; a seemingly likable character may over time (or suddenly) become the dreaded alphahole, or the petty, mean, entitled heroine.

Keira Soleore said...

I agree with you. The writer's skill can make or break a character: whether they have a positive upside, a negative downside, or stay the same neutral (deal-breaker or otherwise).