I am a sloooow reader so it means a lot when I say I finished ORPHEUS GIRL by Brynne Rebele-Henry in one sitting! This queer YA love story is painful and deeply saddening yet empowering and hopeful. A lot is crammed into this poetic novella!
A reimagining of the Orpheus myth, the story follows teenagers Raya and Sarah as their relationship changes from childhood friendship to true love. But the girls live in conservative, small town Texas so when their relationship is discovered they are sent to a conversion therapy camp. In order to survive, Raya vows to become Orpheus and go through Hell to save the girl she loves!
The writing is poetic and beautiful throughout the story. Rebele-Henry does an excellent job depicting the fear of discovery and the confusion of living in the closet. I found it especially poignant when Raya was trying so hard to disguise herself to cover her gayness, even practicing how to act and move like everyone else. I remember doing that as a kid and it killed me to read it from an outside perspective. Be warned: there are very intense, graphic, and troubling actions that take place in this book. Though disturbing to read, these actions must be included because sadly they are real conversion therapy techniques and real consequences of queer people being told that their existence isn’t legitimate.
As the first novel by poet Brynne Rebele-Henry, ORPHEUS GIRL is a very important read. Though I did think the Orpheus myth was very loosely followed and the supporting characters were a little one dimensional, I found the writing and subject matter powerful and relevant. I LOVE that there is so much queer YA being published now and ORPHEUS GIRL is an important addition to the collection.
** Soho Teen provided the book for honest review
- Title: Orpheus Girl
- Author: Brynne Rebele-Henry
- Published: October 8, 2019 (Soho Teen)
- Genre: Retelling, Young Adult, LGBT
- Booky Nooky Rating: * * * *