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Return to Book Page. What happens when your two best friends fall in love But the threes What happens when your two best friends fall in love But the threesome faces their first separation when Nina goes away the summer before their senior year. And in ten short weeks, everything changes. Nina returns home bursting with stories about Steve, the quirky yet adorable eco-warrior she fell for hard while away.
But when she asks her best friends about their summer romances, an awkward silence follows. Nina soon learns the shocking truth when she sees Mel and Avery Their friendship is rocked by what feels like the ultimate challenge. But it's only the beginning of a sometimes painful, sometimes funny, always gripping journey as three girls discover who they are and what they really want. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published May 17th by Razorbill first published October 7th More Details Original Title.
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I procrastinated reading this for a long time, partially because I have learned what to expect from so-called mainstream queer YA. The thing is, I really want to like this book. I would have given it four stars, aside from a few things.
I loved the three best friend characters and I think Johnson did a really great job of developing the three of them individually. It helps that the book is entirely in third person, switching between the perspectives of Mel, Avery, and Nina. The reader learns how these three think without having to delve completely into a first person account of their inane ramblings we all have inane ramblings, after all.
I think the premise of this book is really great. It's not just a coming-out story; it's the story of three girls coming of age and figuring out who they are and who they want to be in the future. This is definitely one of the more realistic YAs I've ever read and although I found some of the details particularly the random brand-name references that appeared throughout to be overwhelming, I'd rather have an over-detailed world than one with no details at all.
It was easy to get attached to these three girls in their world, especially their varying relationships. I'll be honest: I was rooting for Mel and Avery the whole time. A romantic relationship with your best friend? Count me in. I've read reviews commenting on the "innocence" of the book, in that all we ever see the girls do is make out, but I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing.
The early stages of their relationship made me smile in spite of myself. I certainly liked Mel and Avery better than Nina and Steve. Steve felt rather under-developed and definitely stereotyped, so I don't know how Johnson expected the reader to root for him and Nina.
He's quirky and weird and nice. Maybe he doesn't have his whole life figured out at 17, but who does? I wanted him to end up with Nina so badly, view spoiler [ but then, out of the blue, here comes Steve again. Parker reacts dramatically to Nina's relationship with Steve, but I can't really blame him.
But the relationship disappointments are the least of my concern when it comes to my rating for this book. Most of my issues come down to the way Johnson deals with the queer aspect of the story - arguably what the entire book is about. We have Mel, who--thank god! She has always known that she liked girls, but "the only thing she'd never done was write the word in the caption of the self-portrait that she'd kept in her head" This is the beginning of the struggle with labels in this book.
Other than a few instances, Mel refers to herself and is referred to as gay, not lesbian. I don't know enough about lesbian politics to know if this is intentional and realistic, or just a slip on Johnson's part as a heterosexual cis-woman.
Mel and Avery's entire relationship seems to revolve around visibility, especially Avery's fear of it. Where Mel reacts to being outted pragmatically with a minimum of embarrassment, Avery seems to live in fear of being seen as gay, view spoiler [which is arguably why Mel and Avery break up hide spoiler ].
The reader is led to sort of hate Avery for being so secretive and scared of her own sexuality, but can you really blame her when you see the environment she lives in? Both Avery and Mel have some serious internalized homophobia and biphobia, which I'll get to later.
Mel's mom's reaction to finding out Mel is gay is a great example of this; she points out all the ways this is going to "ruin" Mel's life. While Mel is portrayed as girly and cute, Avery realizes that she "would be seen as the rough dyke who lusted after the cheerleaders and couldn't be trusted in the locker room after gym" The irony is that Mel actually is a lesbian, whereas Avery refuses to admit what she is at all.
While Mel is a "gold-star lesbian" who knew all along and never really dated boys, Avery admits that she's confused and insists several times that she's not gay. At one point, she considers sitting with the other queer kids in the cafeteria, but then rejects that idea since she doesn't relate to any of them--nor does she want to be associated with bisexuals like "Felicia Clark, the outspoken 'if you have a pulse, I'm interested' bisexual sex addict" When Nina asks Avery about her sexuality, Avery becomes embarrassed when asked if she likes guys and girls.
Bisexuality becomes associated with excessive sexuality. For Avery, "something about that question made her feel like.. Like she wanted everyone. Guys, girls, dogs, cats, populations of whole cities" A conversation between Avery and Mel reveals Avery's resistance to labels of any kind, a kind of confusion that delegitimizes almost everything Avery does. Mel stepped back in shock. She could understand that Avery might not feel comfortable being labeled gay--Mel still had trouble with this sometimes--but being bi wasn't exactly something she could deny.
We're just…together While at the time, what Avery says sounds sort of romantic, setting her and Mel apart from labels, her statement appears invalid when viewed in the context view spoiler [of her rebound with Gaz not too much later in the novel hide spoiler ]. I glanced through a lot of other reviews, a lot of whom were very adamant about hating Avery as a character. In so many ways, Avery is the stereotypical confused, slutty bisexual: she gets involved in a serious, monogamous 'lesbian' relationship, but then her inherent bisexuality gets in the way and she goes off and sleeps with a guy because she can't handle the pressure of being a lesbian.
She has heterosexual privilege since her relationship with Mel represents her lesbian phase. And because she's so sexually confused, she ends up pushing away her two best friends. She's so confused she can't even decide if she wants to apply to music school or not. I feel like the queer community is supposed to just love Maureen Johnson for writing this ground-breaking lesbian young adult novel as a straight woman. And then on top of that she's representing bisexuals too! The thing is, it's not enough to write queer characters.
It's not enough to represent multiple sexual identities, especially when they're portrayed stereotypically and not analyzed whatsoever. I wouldn't have minded the slut-shaming and the biphobic stereotypes if Johnson had just paused to analyze them, rather than portraying them as a statement of fact.
Ultimately, this book really upset me. Sure, it's almost ten years old, but the reality is that bisexual people are still erased, still stereotyped, and no one wants to talk about it. So yes, I'm angry at being represented by unquestioned stereotypes.
THE BERMUDEZ TRIANGLE
Book Review , teen , young adult. The girls have grown up together and been best friends for as long as they can remember. The summer before senior year, serious student Nina attends a college preparatory program at Stanford University , leaving Avery and Mel at home putting in hours of waitressing at a local eatery. Everything that follows deals with the growing pains of figuring out adolescent friendships, romances, and values. These universal themes and believable characters make the narrative a fun and quick read.
The Bermudez Triangle
The summer before senior year of high school, Mel and Avery become a couple. Mel identifies as a lesbian, while Avery refuses to pick any label. The path of their relationship—from friends, to swooning girlfriends, to enemies, back to friends—involves Nina, too, and also their new friend Parker. Meanwhile Nina has an up-and-down, long-distance romance with an environmentalist, while Parker goes from unattainable crush to unattainable crush. Class issues come up sometimes, race almost never despite Nina being interracial while everyone else is white. Sprinkled-in pop-culture references range from spot-on to easily dated, but the characterizations of love—different kinds—are tender even when painful.
YA Book Review: The Bermudez Triangle, by Maureen Johnson
Nov 20, Minutes Young Adult Buy. Nov 20, Minutes Young Adult. Grade 9 Up—Johnson begins this exceptional novel in a lightweight fashion but quickly segues into more serious issues that affect the three young women who make up the Bermudez Triangle. It is the summer before their senior year in Saratoga Springs, NY. At first, organized, serious Nina has trouble adjusting to her leadership workshop at Stanford University.