I have a confession to make. I was a little wary of one of the important plots of Jaye Robin Brown‘s book, Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit. The main character, Joanna (Jo to some of her friends) is the daughter of a preacher and she loves Jesus. To borrow the immortal words of Marilla Cuthbert, I am next door to a perfect heathen. So, I was a tad nervous that this book was going to be a bit heavy on the religion for me. I was wrong.
This is your obligatory warning about minor spoilers in the rest of the review. Our story begins with Jo making a deal with her father that she will scurry back into the closet. You see, her Pops is a preacher who doesn’t care a bit that his daughter is gay, but his new wife’s family does. So, as they are moving to the new wife’s hometown he strikes a deal with Jo: If she goes back into the closet for her final year of high school, he’ll give her a shot at her own radio show and let her go on an epic road trip with her queer best friend, Dana.
Things, of course, do not go as Jo would have imagined. Being on the “straight” side of high school doesn’t suck for one and neither does falling for a pretty girl. Well, the pretty girl part isn’t exactly what she had in mind when she went back in the closet. She’s got to choose how to follow her heart–get the girl or keep her promise to her dad?
This story is fun and funny with characters to root for (and against). But it’s more than just fun; it’s full of heart. Those who have struggled to reconcile faith and sexuality will find a book brimming with hope. It does not offer a rose-hued look at the world of religion and sexuality–it offers a clear glimpse of some of the more unpleasant ways people have decided to use the Bible to thump the LGBT community–but it also paints a picture of people of faith who love and embrace their LGBT family and friends.
I hope this book finds it way into the hands of anyone, teens especially, who wonder how they can bridge the gap between faith and sexuality. Jo Gordon will happy to show you the bridge exists, and it’s shaped like a big old rainbow.
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit is available now for pre-order and will be on bookshelves August 30.