Gabby Rivera and Roxane Gay at CRLS

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the world, but then you read.”
-James Baldwin

What do you do when the world is trying to erase you for not being white, male, and heterosexual? You write books. At least that what’s Gabby Rivera and Roxane Gay do. On Saturday night, Porter Square Books hosted a discussion between them at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School about Gabby’s rereleased young adult novel Juliet Takes a Breath. Although I didn't know the book, I decided I would go after seeing Roxane Gay’s endorsement (at right!).

To start the discussion, Gabby read from the preface of the book. Watching her you could tell that she wasn’t actually reading from the pages but reciting them from memory. As Gabby read, I pictured the young women I used to work with when I taught English for Boston Public Schools. Gabby’s years as a spoken-word poet show in the way she presented on stage and on the page. At one point, Gabby discussed some of the hardship that she faced. I tried to stop the tears--but soon realized not only was I crying, but so was Elissa (from The Horn Book) and a few other women around me. The fact that this woman could tell her story and keep laughing despite it all was a testament to the strength of her spirit. Proceeds from the tickets were used to give copies of the book to teens in Cambridge and Somerville through the Porter Square Books Foundation. Glad that more young people will have Juliet in their hands. Palante, Juliet.

Photo: Elissa Gershowitz

Nicholl Denice Montgomery

Nicholl Denice Montgomery is currently working on a PhD at Boston College in the curriculum and instruction department. Previously, she worked as an English teacher with Boston Public Schools.

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