Much thanks to Edelweiss and Soho Teen for this complimentary copy. This review is voluntary and opinions are fully my own. Also, all quotes are taken from the ARC and may or may not appear in the final published copy.
“Maybe I was wrong about my wings. I think that maybe the myth about Orpheus isn’t about losing your love: it is about learning how not to look back.”
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Title: Orpheus Girl
Author: Brynne Rebele-Henry
Date Published: October 8 , 2019
Number of Pages: 176 pages
Publisher: Soho Teen
📚 Series: No.
📚 Genre: YA LGBTQ+ Fiction.
📚 POV: First person.
📚 Cliffhanger: No.
⚠ Content Warnings: Conversion therapy (Use of freezing water & Electroshocking), Homophobia, Transphobia, Suicide (Attempts), Starvation, LGBTQ+ Violence, Unconsented Outing, Using Slurs
⚠ Read if: you loved We Are Okay by Nina LaCour and other similar reads.
Book Blurb from Goodreads
In her debut novel, award-winning poet Brynne Rebele-Henry re-imagines the Orpheus myth as a love story between two teenage girls who are sent to conversion therapy after being caught together in an intimate moment.
Abandoned by a single mother she never knew, 16-year-old Raya—obsessed with ancient myths—lives with her grandmother in a small conservative Texas town. For years Raya has been forced to hide her feelings for her best friend and true love, Sarah. When the two are outed, they are sent to Friendly Saviors: a re-education camp meant to “fix” them and make them heterosexual. Upon arrival, Raya vows to assume the mythic role of Orpheus to escape Friendly Saviors, and to return to the world of the living with her love—only becoming more determined after she, Sarah, and Friendly Saviors’ other teen residents are subjected to abusive “treatments” by the staff.
In a haunting voice reminiscent of Sylvia Plath, with the contemporary lyricism of David Levithan, Brynne Rebele-Henry weaves a powerful inversion of the Orpheus myth informed by the real-world truths of conversion therapy. Orpheus Girl is a mythic story of dysfunctional families, trauma, first love, heartbreak, and ultimately, the fierce adolescent resilience that has the power to triumph over darkness and ignorance.
About the Author
Brynne Rebele-Henry was born in 1999. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Rookie, and Blackbird, among other places. Her writing has won numerous awards, including the 2015 Louise Louis/Emily F. Bourne Award from the Poetry Society of America. She has two books of poetry: Fleshgraphs and Autobiography of a Wound, which won the AWP Donald Hall Poetry Prize and is a finalist for the Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry. Orpheus Girl is her first novel.
Orpheus Girl is a retelling of the Greek myth on Orpheus, which I don’t know anything about. So, I don’t know if it was committed to the original and what references were there in the story.
But, what I do know is that Orpheus Girl is a story about love. It is about an enduring, sacrificing, and undying love between to young adults fighting against all odds.
Raya is in love with her best friend Sarah, but they live in a homophobic town. They were outed and have to be sent to a conversion camp to “make them straight again”.
The premise might be simple at first glance, but the author was able to make this journey a heart wrenching one. All the while I was feeling like my heart is getting squeezed to bits. The author made an amazing job of getting emotions across that it can be extremely triggering to some people.
This book sheds light to things not many people know and see. It shows the bad and negative sides of being part of the community, but it can also serve as an eye-opener for people who are prejudiced towards them.
If you feel like you are brave enough for the warnings I have mentioned, then you should try reading this for sure. Though it is sad, its sadness shines with beauty and heart.
My Book Rating Breakdown
🌼 Main Character:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌼 Significant Other: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌼 Support Characters:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Writing Style:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Character Development:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Romance: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Pacing: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Ending: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Unputdownability: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌼 Book Cover:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
☁ FINAL VERDICT: 4.45/5 ☁