It's going to take a miracle for Joanna Gordon to get through senior year. Despite being the daughter of a well-known radio evangelist, Jo has never hidden the fact that she's gay, and her dad has always supported her. But that was back in Atlanta. Now her dad, the reverend, has married wife number three and they've all moved to small-town Rome, Georgia. When Jo's dad asks her to lie low for the rest of the year in hopes that it will help him and his new wife settle in, Jo reluctantly agrees. Although when God closes a closet door, he opens a window. Everything becomes so easy for Jo once she rebrands herself a straight girl. No one gives her odd looks. Her new stepfamily likes her. She even gets in with the popular crowd. And that's how she meets Mary Carlson, the ultimate temptation. Even though Jo knows this girl is completely off-limits, she just can't get her out of her mind. But Jo couldn't possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if Jo's starting to fall for Mary Carlson. Even if there's a chance Mary Carlson might also be interested in her, too. Right? Lord, have mercy. Jo's in for one hell of a year.
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden FruitFeatured
An important story about LGBTQ+ and relgion
What I Loved:
GEORGIA PEACHES AND OTHER FORBIDDEN FRUIT by Jaye Robin Brown is a sweet but complicated love story full of diversity, complex characters, swoonworthy romance, and a full plot.
One of things I appreciated most was the clash between gay teenagers, the culture of the south, and religion. Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years despite being the daughter of a preacher in Atlanta but when her dad remarries and moves the entire family to small town Georgia, things get more complicated for Jo.
Religion can be such a sensitive issue for LGBTQ+ stories but Brown approaches Jo’s faith and her sexual identity so well. It’s one of the few books I can remember reading with a religious protagonist that doesn’t walk away from her faith because of her struggles with people in the church but rather presses further into what religion can and should be. That’s huge and I hope it speaks further into teens lives that they can find places of belonging in faith circles.
The many different relationships also make this book interested. I especially was fond of the gradual development of Jo’s relationship with her stepmother, the friendships she develops at her new school, including Mary Carlson’s brother Barnum, and the romance between Jo and Mary Carlson. There are some parts of their romance that are more explicit than others.
What Left Me Wanting More:
There are some plot holes and unnecessary dilemmas that made some parts of the book confusing. The fact that her incredibly supportive dad would even ask her to hide an important aspect of herself seems somewhat unbelievable but it does help bring up some important points about acceptance within southern culture and religious culture.
Additionally, Joanna’s inability to share the truth with Mary Carlson is a source of confusion and frustration. She can trust other friends in Rome with her secret past but not the girl she’s secretly dating.
GEORGIA PEACHES AND OTHER FORBIDDEN FRUIT by Jaye Robin Brown is a fantastic books that explores the various issues that plague queer teenagers and I greatly appreciate the way Brown handled a lot of different topics. I would definitely recommend this one to anyone!