Official Review: Juliana by Vanda

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.
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Kitkat3
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Official Review: Juliana by Vanda

Post by Kitkat3 » 27 Jun 2017, 01:34

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Juliana" by Vanda.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Juliana by Vanda is a Historical Fiction novel about LGBT people in the 1940s. It’s not very often that a work of fiction will really speak to my heart, but this book certainly did. I found myself feeling heartbroken, furious, embarrassed, and enticed all through the eyes of the first person narrator, Al. Al moves from the country and her parents to New York City to become an actress with her childhood friends, Danny, Aggie, and Dickie. It isn’t long before her plans start to unravel. She meets Juliana, and she is immediately drawn to her. From then on she is slowly whisked into a community of people that she didn’t even know existed.

The author’s greatest strength in this book is the characters. Each one has a very distinct personality to the point that I periodically forgot that these are not real people. It’s the type of book that makes you forget that you are just reading. Once I really got into the book, I didn’t want to stop. The scenes are painted so vividly it feels like you really are walking the streets of New York in the 1940s. Everything from the language to the outfits to people’s prejudices seem very realistic. The realistic elements can also make the book hard to read. The struggles of World War II and the prejudices against women, race, and homosexuality are accurately depicted, and it’s not pretty. However, this is not a depressing read by any means, which I believe is a real feat.

This book deals with some really heavy subjects and has a lot of erotic sex scenes. For this reason, I definitely cannot recommend this to anyone under eighteen. I feel though that in many cases, for this type of book, the sex scenes were necessary. Without the heterosexual and lesbian sex scenes, the reader would not be able to identify with the character as much and understand how having sex with men was unnatural for her. This is an essential part of the novel and the author’s message. Portraying the vileness of sexual assault would not be possible without it either.

What really hit me hard about this novel was how it really let me experience that women rarely had anyone to turn to in many situations. Juliana shows that there was an unbelievable amount of daily judgment that women had to experience. One of my favorite characters is Shirl, a transgender woman. The author does an excellent job of explaining how scary being a transgender woman was during this time period. I was heartbroken reading about the disrespect and isolation that the LGBT community suffered for being who they were. Their resilience shines through Vanda’s pages.

I found around three small typos in the version I was given to review. My flow of reading was never interrupted. I am delighted to rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I learned a lot from this book, but I felt like I experienced it instead. The setting, characters, and raw emotions are overwhelmingly lifelike. It is clear from the culture and song references as well that a lot of research went into writing this book. I look forward to reading Volume II when it is released.

******
Juliana
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Post by Kawira3671 » 10 Jul 2017, 12:09

Very captivating and arousing too. I love it

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Post by kandscreeley » 10 Jul 2017, 12:19

I love books that make you almost forget you are reading. It's those type of books that get me angry when someone interrupts me. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like this book is for me. Thanks for the great review, though.
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Post by El-kanah » 10 Jul 2017, 14:05

Yeah, I love books that seems like you are present there also. Authors with great sense of imagery attracts a lot of attention, and gives the readers the best. Making them grateful for the time spent reading the book.
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Post by Kitkat3 » 10 Jul 2017, 16:46

Thanks for the comments! This book really is one of the best I have read in a while.

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Post by raikyuu » 10 Jul 2017, 19:53

It's been years since I read a book which makes me forget that I'm actually reading one. It must be a really good and relatable book for you. Great review.
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Post by Kitkat3 » 10 Jul 2017, 22:56

Yes, it is a really good book. The author's vivid writing makes it almost impossible to not empathize with all of the characters.

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Post by Ndayisabayamado3 » 11 Jul 2017, 08:40

I am interested to learn more about sex and transgender between characters. This novel is full of sex scenes in different
domains, for now ,i recommend this book to old people.This is a great review to me!

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Post by Shedrack Mwazuna » 11 Jul 2017, 14:19

Nice book i love it

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Post by Miche Sora » 11 Jul 2017, 17:33

Isn't it fantastic when you find a book that speaks to you? Your description of the book makes me want to read it. It makes me sad that people were so small and petty not that many years ago, but the LGBTQ community would say that there is still a long way to go, which I can't argue with.
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Post by Lest92 » 13 Jul 2017, 09:02

Great review! This is definitely one for me and you highlighted why. I'm also glad, even before I read this one, that there is another on the way. Great stuff :greetings-clappingyellow:

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Post by Naval Aulakh » 13 Jul 2017, 09:17

I like the review. You have given a very good insight of the book and I would like to read the book. Good work :)
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Post by ReadingRebecca » 14 Jul 2017, 16:57

Your review was thorough to the point I easily knew whether or not this book was for me. Thank you very much. That is a key element in a review in my opinion. I also found your personal reaction to the story helpful in that it gave me an example of how one reader related to the story.

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Post by Kitkat3 » 15 Jul 2017, 01:26

Miche Sora wrote:Isn't it fantastic when you find a book that speaks to you? Your description of the book makes me want to read it. It makes me sad that people were so small and petty not that many years ago, but the LGBTQ community would say that there is still a long way to go, which I can't argue with.
Yeah it really is! That is true, even though many of the views against the LGBTQ community in this book are extremely outdated, I was saddened by how accurately it described some peoples' prejudices today as well.

-- Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:29 am --
Lest92 wrote:Great review! This is definitely one for me and you highlighted why. I'm also glad, even before I read this one, that there is another on the way. Great stuff :greetings-clappingyellow:
Thanks! I love it when I don't have to wait long for a sequel too. This was definitely one of those books that I didn't want to end.

-- Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:35 am --

Thanks for the comment Naval Aulakh, ReadingRebecca, Shedrack Mwazuna, and Ndayisabayamado3! I'm glad that my review was effective and let you know if you wanted to read the book. :D

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Post by Gingerbo0ks » 18 Jul 2017, 11:21

I love watching things set in the 1940s but have yet to find anything I want to read that isn't just about the war. I like that this has a touchy subject matter and was good enough to earn 4 stars!
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