Synopsis from Soho Press:
In her debut novel, award–winning poet Brynne Rebele-Henry re-imagines the epic of Orpheus as a love story between two teen girls in rural Texas.
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 hidden her feelings for her best friend and true love, Sarah. When the two are caught in an intimate moment, 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 save them both and to return them to the world of the living, at any cost.
In a haunting voice reminiscent of Sylvia Plath, with the contemporary lyricism of David Levithan, Orpheus Girl is a mythic story of dysfunctional families, first love, heartbreak—and the fierce adolescent resilience that has the power to triumph over darkness and ignorance.
About: Orpheus Girl is a young adult contemporary written by Brynne Rebele-Henry. It will be published on 10/8/2019 by Soho Teen, an imprint of Soho Press, paperback, 176 pages. The genres are young adult, retelling, contemporary, LGBT, and fiction. This book is the author’s debut and it’s intended for readers ages 14 and up, grades 9 and up. According to the publisher’s website, “Soho Press is an independent book publisher based in Manhattan’s Union Square. Founded in 1986, Soho publishes 90 books a year across its Soho Press, Soho Crime and Soho Teen lists, and is known for introducing bold literary voices, award-winning international crime fiction, and groundbreaking young adult fiction.” Please see below for more information about the author and publisher.
My Experience: I started reading Orpheus Girl on 7/16/2019 and finished it on 7/17/2019. This book is a great read! Raya is such a down to earth girl and it’s so easy to follow her view. I feel sad for her how she craves to have her mom’s love and attention but doesn’t receive. Her feelings sound realistic and can be relatable to many readers because of where she lives and the constant fears she has living in a small town of strict church goers. I like her friendship with Sarah. Sarah seems like a great person as well. I like other supporting characters like Leon and Clio. I enjoy the humor in this book.
This book is told in the first person point of view following Raya, 16 who is raised by her grandma because her teen mom abandoned her when she was 2. Her mom is an actress on TV and plays the Aphrodite character so Raya learns about ancient myths to prepare herself that if one day her mom comes back for her, she’ll have something to talk to her mom about. Raya misses her mom a lot. She lives in a small town and is constantly afraid that someone will find out that she actually likes girls instead of boys. When gay teens in this small town got found out, they disappeared. Raya worries a lot when it will happen to her and where will she disappear to. This book is divided into 6 parts.
Orpheus Girl is well written and a fast paced read! Church’s involvement to cure homosexual is kind of funny and cruel. The people running the program talk down to them to make them feel less than a person while the activities such as doing strenuous exercises that they are put up to perform is just silly. Using the methods of torture such as electroshock to stop loving someone seems extreme. I am a bit disappointed with Raya’s grandma. I realize she’s a strict church goer but her own daughter got pregnant out of wedlock and she kept the baby instead of putting up for adoption or abortion so I would expect that she would give Raya a chance instead of sending her off. This book is LGBT in the old days where gays are unacceptable and cast out. I don’t know much about Orpheus so I can’t tell the retelling part. The story is still a good read despite some trigger warnings and I do recommend everyone to read this book!
Pro: fast paced, page turner, LGBT, friendship, family, humor, easy to read, diversity,
Con: trigger warnings of how gays are unacceptable back in the day and torture is used as a method to cure
I rate it 4.5 stars!
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. Twitter @Brynne_RH (Photo and info obtained from Soho Press’ website).
More Information about Soho Press
***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Soho Press for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.