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Orpheus Girl av Brynne Rebele-Henry
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Orpheus Girl (utgåvan 2019)

av Brynne Rebele-Henry

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
704305,451 (3.35)1
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 fought 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 role of Orpheus, to return to the world of the living with her love--and after she, Sarah, and the other teen residents are subjected to abusive and brutal "treatments" by the staff, Raya only becomes more determined to escape.   In a haunting voice reminiscent of Sylvia Plath and the contemporary lyricism of David Levithan, Brynne Rebele-Henry weaves a powerful inversion of the Orpheus myth informed by the disturbing real-world truths of conversion therapy. Orpheus Girl is a story of dysfunctional families, trauma, first love, heartbreak, and ultimately, the fierce adolescent resilience that has the power to triumph over darkness and ignorance. CW: There are scenes in this book that depict self-harm, homophobia, transphobia, and violence against LGBTQ characters.… (mer)
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Visar 4 av 4
teen LGBTQAI fiction (two girls sent to shock-therapy reform camp after being outted in small-town Texas)

I had trouble getting into this--maybe I was just too distracted, or maybe it was the short snippet quality of the narrative, pieces of scenes and memories put together into chapters. I think it would have helped if I'd been more familiar with Orpheus, but maybe not.

I felt like the characters weren't fully fleshed out as such, but the feelings were real, and the subject timely. I could see this appealing to mature, queer teens (note that some of the love scenes get a little more explicit than you might be expecting them to) ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
I'm so excited for this!!

Thank you to Soho Press for sending me an ARC to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
  themoonwholistens | Aug 31, 2020 |
In some ways, Orpheus Girl is old school YA. At 176 pages, it doesn’t waste time beating around the bush. It tells you exactly what’s up: Raya’s grandmother, her church, and most of her small Texas town are homophobic. Her mother abandoned her, and that sucks. Conversion therapy is evil. Think Judy Blume’s Forever, which stares issues of teen sexuality right in the face, names them, and addresses them directly. Rebele-Henry’s writing is clear, even beautiful at the sentence level, and at first, Orpheus Girl is a refreshing read.

Unfortunately, unlike Forever, things quickly get muddled. There are two major problems here: underdeveloped characters and plot contrivance. It doesn’t help that the premise is reminiscent of The Miseducation of Cameron Post, a popular YA book about conversion therapy that recently spawned a Chloe Grace Moretz vehicle, while the cover art and parts of the plot call to mind Nina LaCour’s excellent We Are Okay. None of the characters in this book have consistent, coherent personalities. Raya loves Greek mythology, we’re told, but we never actually see her reading it, talking about it, thinking about it; she only ever brings it up for the sake of metaphor. And unlike with Cameron, who is a firecracker from the beginning of her story, it’s hard to understand why she decides to talk back to and rebel against authority at the conversion camp; doing so takes a fierceness that we just don’t see from her in the first part of the book. Like the protagonist of We Are Okay, she lives alone with a widowed grandparent, whom she both loves and struggles to love; however, while Marin’s grandfather is complex and tenderly drawn, Raya’s Grammy is cardboard. Similarly, Sarah, Raya’s girlfriend, has no defining personality traits. Most baffling of all is Char, who runs the camp’s “treatments” and immediately calls to mind Cameron Post’s Lydia (her coworker, Hyde, is very similar to Rick). She swings wildly between cruel torturer to tortured savior, depending on which is convenient for the story. A “cured” lesbian, she’s apparently been administering these horrific “treatments” to countless teens over several years, but she’s only just now, with Raya’s arrival (but completely uninfluenced by Raya herself), considering helping them escape. Honestly, Char’s random character changes are the only thing that move the plot forward past the first section of this book. Raya does nothing; Char is always the one who decides to either torture or save her and Sarah. This, combined with cringeworthy plot contrivances with no buildup or tension (car crash, anyone?), made me want to pull my hair out.

It’s not all bad. Orpheus Girl has some truly lovely writing, and it doesn’t shy away from the horrors of conversion therapy and early 2000′s homophobia. Its open ending, like Cameron Post’s, is much more satisfying than a neat, tied-up one would have been. And I don’t mean to imply that Rebele-Henry is intentionally ripping off either Emily Danforth or Nina LaCour. But this book just doesn’t live up to its promise as a modern retelling of Orpheus - beyond character names and Raya’s own insistence that she is “like Orpheus,” there is little to no resemblance to the myth - and it does beg comparison to other YA novels that are, at the end of the day, much better. ( )
  livmae | Jul 17, 2020 |
An important story, but not without its failings.

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Edelweiss. Trigger warning for homophobic violence, including gay conversion therapy and sexual harassment/assault, and suicide.)

"Like Orpheus, I’m going to hell and I’m looking to save the girl I love. Because Orpheus? She’s a girl. A girl who likes girls."

For as long as Raya can remember, it's just been her and her grandmother. Gram's husband died in a car accident when she was twenty-seven, leaving her to raise their two-year-old daughter Calli on her own. Calli got pregnant her senior year of high school and ran off to become an actress three years later; Raya hasn't heard from her since. Raya's only glimpse of her mom is on tv, where she plays the goddess Aphrodite on daytime soaps. She and Gram are alone together, lonely planets hurtling down parallel orbits of abandonment, each defined by the same absence, the same loss.

Making matters worse is the fact that Raya has to hide her true self: from Grammy, from her friends and classmates, from church, from the small town she begrudgingly calls home. It's 2004 in Pieria, Texas, and Raya is gay: a girl who likes girls. And this is a time and place where teenagers like her often disappear without a trace.

When Raya and her best (and only) friend Sarah are outed by a (violently homophobic and misogynist) classmate, they're sent to a gay conversion camp called Friendly Saviors, where things quickly go from bad to worse. At best, the prisoners undergo grueling physical labor, humiliating talk "therapy," and milder forms of physical torture; at worse, they are drugged and electrocuted into compliance.

Orpheus Girl is not for the faint of heart, and comes with some strong trigger warnings. This is a tragic queer story tempered by a tentatively hopeful ending. Our heroes manage to persevere, though they do not emerge from hell unscathed.

As much as I want to see more shiny happy stories starring queer characters, I suppose you could argue that there's still a need for the sad and horrifying narratives, to shine a light on the many atrocities happening in there here and now. (And yes, while there has been a state-by-state legislative push again gay conversion therapy, as of this writing gay conversion therapy on minors has been banned in just 18 states, as well as DC and Puerto Rico. According to studies by the UCLA Williams Institute, more than 700,000 LGBTQ people have been subjected to gay conversion therapy, with an estimated 80,000 kids at risk in the future.)

I'm always on the lookout for good books, of any genre, with LGBTQ protagonists, and Orpheus Girl caught my eye both because of the author's young age, as well as her background in poetry. While the narrative is compelling, Orpheus Girl feels like a debut novel, and not in a good way. There were so many little details that distracted from my enjoyment of the book. To name just one example: Raya is able to lift Hyde's truck keys on the first try, even though she has zero background in pickpocketing or general thievery. Nor does she possess nerves of steel: when she later manages to steal said truck, she immediately flips it 180 degrees, while still within earshot of the camp. So, yeah, I'm not buying it.

Additionally, the characters lack depth and nuance: aside from their fashion sense, Raya are Sarah aren't really distinguishable from one another, and Raya's primary personality trait seems to be "orphan."

But the thing that bugged me the most is how compressed the timeline is: just three days after she's sent to prison (I can't in good conscience call it a camp, let's be real), Raya's worried that Grammy has already married her new suitor and moved on. When I say "new," I mean as in they literally just started dating weeks before Raya was outed. And then we find out, a month later at most, that she totally did! I don't know about you, but it takes me three months to hang a new poster. WHO MOVES THAT FAST.

Orpheus Girl is an important story, for sure, but if you're looking for a book that confronts the horrors of gay conversion therapy, you can probably do better. Just off the top of my head, I'd recommend The Miseducation of Cameron Post.

http://www.easyvegan.info/2019/10/22/orpheus-girl-by-brynne-rebele-henry/ ( )
  smiteme | Jul 28, 2019 |
Visar 4 av 4
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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 fought 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 role of Orpheus, to return to the world of the living with her love--and after she, Sarah, and the other teen residents are subjected to abusive and brutal "treatments" by the staff, Raya only becomes more determined to escape.   In a haunting voice reminiscent of Sylvia Plath and the contemporary lyricism of David Levithan, Brynne Rebele-Henry weaves a powerful inversion of the Orpheus myth informed by the disturbing real-world truths of conversion therapy. Orpheus Girl is a story of dysfunctional families, trauma, first love, heartbreak, and ultimately, the fierce adolescent resilience that has the power to triumph over darkness and ignorance. CW: There are scenes in this book that depict self-harm, homophobia, transphobia, and violence against LGBTQ characters.

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