Author: Jaye Robin Brown
Pages: 419 (Hardcover)
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Purchase: Amazon•TBD (affiliate link)
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 the 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 as 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 be interested in her, too. Right?
Lord, have mercy.
Jo’s in for one hell of a year.
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit totally surpassed my already high expectations for it. I was 100% intrigued by a Christian character who is the daughter of a preacher being out and proud, then forced back into the closet. I wasn’t expecting to have so many emotions though! Jo’s father has just remarried, and now they’re moving to his new wife’s hometown. Her parents and the town in general aren’t very accepting, so Jo’s father asks her to lie low for the year and in return she can have her own radio show. Jo agrees, but things get complicated when she starts falling for Mary Carlson.
I am freaking in love with Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit. From the beginning, I just loved it, because Jo is such a great character. I loved how she was out, proud, and still had faith. Her father was accepting of her, even if he finds her best friend, Dana, a bit questionable (not because she’s also gay, she’s just a wild child). Even her new stepmom is sweet, caring, and accepting. Despite the reverse coming out plot, this isn’t a tragic queers book. In general, everyone is accepting and wonderful! Not to say that there are no bigots around, because of course there are. But the focus is really on self-acceptance and surrounding yourself with people who love you unconditionally. And being honest with yourself and others.
Even though I’m not religious, I loved how Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit explored the topic. Jo’s father is a radio evangelist, but he’s not all fire and brimstone. He preaches love and…acceptance (noticing a theme?). Jo is gay and has faith. Dana is gay and doesn’t believe. Jo’s friends at her new school all attend church and the youth group. Some of them are okay with the gay, and others think it’s a sin. The girls also discuss the hypocrisy in having sex before marriage while also condemning people who aren’t straight. You can’t have it both ways! It was all very interesting and well done.
The ending of Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit made me cry. Multiple times. I couldn’t help it! Jo is finally cleaning up her messy web of lies. She’s seeing that she’s judged people too harshly. The small town isn’t all bad, and there’s just so many heartwarming moments! It’s not all sticky sweet though. There are some steamy scenes between Joanna and Mary Carlson, which were just a nice bonus. My little queer heart grew three sizes today!