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Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit

Review

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit

GEORGIA PEACHES AND OTHER FORBIDDEN FRUIT, Jayne Robin Brown’s second novel, follows the life of Joanna, an out and proud high school senior. After Joanna’s radio evangelist father remarries, Joanna is forced to uproot from the more tolerant Atlanta to the very conservative Rome, Georgia. Joanna’s father unfairly asks Joanna to hide her sexuality in their new town, hoping to avoid drama with his new wife’s family. Joanna hesitantly agrees, after Joanna’s father promises her the chance to host her own radio show. Although Joanna misses her wild best friend, Dana, she surprises herself by enjoying the company of her new small town friends, especially southern belle Mary Carlson. As Joanna’s feelings for Mary Carlson develop and Mary Carlson shockingly seems to reciprocate, Joanna must make a choice: keep the promise she made to her father or follow her heart.

"Brown’s novel offers a fresh take on the importance of faith to gay teenagers....Brown crafts a charming and unexpected hit in GEORGIA PEACHES AND FORBIDDEN FRUIT.

Brown’s novel offers a fresh take on the importance of faith to gay teenagers. She helps give her readers a chance to accept their faith as another part of who they are that is just as important as their sexual orientation. For the unreligious, the discussion of Christianity within the novel is not judgmental or pushy, and still allows for those of all religions to enjoy the novel. Throughout the novel, the theme of acceptance has the most emphasis, as Joanna struggles to decide when she should reveal her life in Atlanta to Mary Carlson. The novel has many funny moments, which are often produced by Dana, who still lives in Atlanta. For example, while Joanna is attending a typical high school party in Rome, Dana is hanging out with her identity thief girlfriend. Dana’s irresponsible choices offer some contrast to Joanna’s relatively tame lifestyle, allowing the problems discussed in the novel to have varied themes.

An unexpected bright spot of the novel was the development of Joanna’s relationship with her new stepmother, Elizabeth. Although Joanna is hesitant to respond to Elizabeth’s first attempts to befriend her, ultimately Elizabeth is able to win Joanna over by showing Joanna acceptance. The relationship between Mary Carlson and Joanna is also cute to watch unfold, as at first Joanna wonders if she is making up the connection she feels with Mary Carlson. Although some unnecessary obstacles placed in the way of their relationship can feel tedious, the entertainment value in the way the relationship is approached outweighs the slowing moving parts.

For both gay and religious readers, Brown crafts a charming and unexpected hit in GEORGIA PEACHES AND FORBIDDEN FRUIT. This novel will also be entertaining to fans of Brown’s previous work, such as NO PLACE TO FALL, and will attract readers looking for a good love story.  Readers will appreciate the compelling characters, the humor, and the romance of the novel. Anyone who enjoys the writing of John Green or Rainbow Rowell will find a sense of familiarity in Brown’s writing, and will be left longing for more.

Reviewed by Janine C., Teen Board Member on August 12, 2016

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
by Jaye Robin Brown