Whoa. This book, though.
I’d been looking forward to reading this one ever since I first saw the cover/heard the title, and let me tell you, I was not disappointed!
But first, here’s what Jaye Robin Brown’s Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit is all about:
Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.
Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?
Ok, so I won’t lie–there were times I wanted to throw the book across the room, but that’s mainly because I was so mad at Jo’s dad for forcing her back into the closet. NOT COOL, DAD. Even if you are a radio Reverend. And even if your new wife’s family is SUPER CONSERVATIVE.
But I digress. Jo’s closet experience in Rome, Georgia serves to move the story along, and it all gets sorted out in the end.
I have to say, Jo’s experience in Rome does show that, even now in 2016, we’re still surrounded by closed-mind individuals who just can’t seem to accept queer and trans people. We sadly still live in a world filled with people like Donald Trump, Kim Davis and Ted Cruz. And it’s not just America either. Canada’s got that Brad Trost guy (I’ve got a post on him coming soon!).
Jo’s story shows that in some places, people still receive a lot of flack for being brave enough to be out. And the fact that some people just can’t be accepting is what leads her dad to make the request that she lie low for the year.
Another aspect of how this story is mega-real is that it shows the opposite side of things too. People like I’ve mentioned above (especially Kim Davis and Ted Cruz) say they oppose same-sex marriage–or pretty much anything queer/trans in general, basically–because it goes against their faith. They say God/Jesus/the Bible/the Church/whatever are why they think being LGBTQ+ is wrong.
But not everyone is like that. And this book shows how it is very much possible to be queer and Christian. Or be a supportive, straight Christian. And I think that’s very important. We need stories that show that these people exist, they are out there.
Now, I’m not a Christian. I’m an atheist. But I have friends who are Christian, who regularly go to church, who believe in God. And I fully support them, just as I know they accept and support me for who I am. I say this here to highlight the fact that I fully support everyone’s right to hold their own beliefs, even if they’re different from mine. As the quote goes, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”.
That being said, I do not agree with people who try to use their faith as a means to spew hatred. I do not agree with people who say that queer and trans people should be put to death because they think the Bible says that. I do not agree with people who break the law and refuse to do their fucking job and let LGBTQ+ people marry whoever they want because they think it goes against God. That’s not cool, y’all.
Ok, I’ve gotten a little off track. My point is, there are people in this world that do both good and bad things in the name of their God, and Jaye Robin Brown’s Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit paints some of the wonderful realities of the REALLY GOOD ones you’ll find out there, even in small towns in Georgia. It also shows that, yes, it is absolutely 100% possible to be both queer and Christian, and there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t be both.
Books like these are hella important, so spread the word!
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit is available now.