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Orpheus Girl

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  208 ratings  ·  130 reviews
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 ye
176 pages
Published October 8th 2019 by Soho Teen
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Brynne Rebele-Henry Hi! It's a standalone, but I haven't completely closed the door on Raya and Sarah, so maybe we'll see more of them in the future!

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Average rating 3.50  · 
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 ·  208 ratings  ·  130 reviews

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Apr 29, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer
doesn't this cover give you all the We Are Okay feels?? AND it's an f/f romance too.
Jasmine from How Useful It Is
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 t ...more
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

My heart is now in smithereens.

This book physically hurt me. My body felt bruised or exhausted, like I was dehydrated. The feeling would go away after I put the book down and stopped thinking about it, but as soon as I picked the book back up, there was that bruise-feeling. It’s because the experiences that these characters are forced to go through, because they are LGBTQ+, are as horrible as they are real. Raya and Sarah have to live in constant/>My
You know, the thing about family is that you can choose it. And I choose you.

On my blog.

Rep: lesbian mcs, trans side character, gay side character

CWs: homophobia (from family, slurs, telling them they're disgusting/going to hell), conversion therapy (aversion therapy with freezing water, later electroshock therapy), transphobia, suicide attempt

I put off writing this review so that I wasn’t some combination of fuming and heartbroken over this book when I wrote it. Only, every time I thin/>
Fadwa (Word Wonders)
Sep 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
received a DRC of this book from edelweiss in exchange of an honest review

(i'll come back later to update this with all the necessary TWs, it needs...a lot)

This book was just...queer pain for the sake of queer pain and i fail to sze the purpose of it. I don't think there's any purpose other than showing a lesbian as well as other queer folks getting tortured. The writing is beautiful but it was wasted on a story that didn't deliver any message. I also had a few issues wit
I received an arc from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Content warnings: homophobia, lesbophobic slurs, homophobic slurs, conversion therapy, offscreen suicide attempt

This book is kind of the tragically beautiful you may expect from the summary and a book based on a Greek myth. It's a rare case of YA with an established relationship.

The writing in this was very atmospheric. It fit the book really well.

I also really loved the relationship. It was so soft and I wa
Aug 26, 2019 rated it liked it
The ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

3.5 Stars

Full review here

Trigger warnings: homophobia, starvation, conversion therapy, physical and psychological torture, misgendering, self-harm, suicide attempt.

This book deals with some heavy themes and I'm not going to lie, it is not an easy read. This book tells the story of some young and queer people trying to escape from a place that is probably one of the closest things/>
anna (readingpeaches)
rep: lesbian mc & li, trans side character, gay side character

arc provided by the publisher.

this is all metaphor & no substance. poets writing novels don't always succeed and unfortunately this is one of those times. we glide through the pages full of pretty words & we're told a lot of things about the characters and the plot, but there is absolutely nothing underneath it. there is no way to connect to anyone in this book, because none of them are actual people with personalities, just/>
Sofii♡ (A Book. A Thought.)
I want to thank Edelweiss+ and Soho Teen for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This is a book that certainly puts me in a difficult situation because of the fact that, as I mentioned in my little review after reading it, it's very difficult to describe but it was very easy to feel, and I see that this fact will make it difficult to explain myself, but still I'll try as always with the greatest respect. I think this is a solid book since I think it's quite clear what the author wants to e
rachael ♡
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"She's gripping red flowers in her left hand, so tightly they start to fall apart. She stands up, and then there's a door hanging over our heads and she turns to me. 'You go first. But don't look back.' But I do look back. I do."

Haunting and needed, ORPHEUS GIRL dives deep into the heartbreak, devastation and resilience teenage lesbian Raya feels when she is sent by her bigoted Christian grandmother to a "conversion camp" after being caught with her girlfriend.

Heavy trigger warning for homophobia
May 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
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, ...more
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
DNF @ 20%

I'm putting this down for 2 reasons:

1) I'll be honest, I can't do a painful queer book right now. I'm not saying they don't need to exist, because they absolutely do. We need stories like this that tell people — especially cishet readers — how brutal the world's treatment of queer folks can be. But that doesn't mean that I, as a queer woman, am always going to be in the right mindset for reading it myself, and right now, I'm not in the right place for it. Things aren't ba
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbt, romance, arc, ya, contemporary
An ARC was provided to me for free by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

As someone who isn't queer, I am definitely not the right person to properly review this, but I'll give a few thoughts.

CW - homophobia, transphobia, self-harm, suicide attempt, conversion therapy

This is a devastating story about two queer girls who are publicly outed when caught together, and sent to a camp to be "fixed." It can be really painful and heartbreaking to read at times, b
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book did all kinds of things to this sapphic heart of mine. It is both gut-wrenching and sensitive, brutal yet lyrical. It grabbed hold and refused to let go until I had borne witness.

ORPHEUS GIRL is one of those books that only needs a few words to deliver. It's very short, but I think that adds to its impact. Through every word it is apparent that Brynne Rebel-Henry is a poet. And just like poetry, this book feels very personal.

This book is so important, so relevant, and I hope it gets
"Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here."

- Marianne Williamson

Thank you SOHO Teen and Brynne Rebel-Henry for this Instagram giveaway arc!

Abandoned by her mother, and raised by her grandmother, Raya is not who she longs to be. Raya and her best friend Sarah are deeply in love. Living in a deeply homophobic Texan town, the two must hide their relationship. The couple is discovered and sent to Friendly Saviors : a re-education camp meant to "fix them."
~ Althea | themoonwholistens ~  ☾
Jun 20, 2019 marked it as unreleased-tbr
Shelves: edelweiss, arcs
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.
Moony MeowPoff
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I got this book at Edelweiss+

I felt so much, this book, this book was so heartbreaking, so painful. I coud feel it in my chest. I begged for a happy ending, i begged for Raya and Sarah to be okay, to be together. it was somewhat beautiful too, i cried a little. But most of all, i felt pain, i felt anger, i felt lost - i i felt so much. I connected with Raya on such a level, this is what reading is about, to connect so much with tha characters... it hurts. I loved and hated every second, but i'
Brenna Clark
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Edelweiss for this ARC! I saw the synopsis and immediately knew it was a story I wanted to read. Inspired by Greek myths, Orpheus Girl is a tale of love, and the forces that will stop at nothing to extinguish it. The backdrop for the story was all too familiar; a small town in the middle of nowhere with people who had even smaller minds. Growing up in such places can make you feel like you're in a place time hasn't touched. Sure, they have cell phones and a bathroom inside their hou ...more
I had no idea how the description of "David Levithan meets Sylvia Plath" would work, but actually, that's a spot on description. This is a queer retelling of Orpheus, following a girl named Raya who lives with her grandmother in a small, conservative Texas town in the early 00s. She's in love with Sarah, and they've been caught together being intimate. Both Sarah and Raya are sent to a re-education camp meant to help them change from being lesbian to being straight.

Raya hopes to bust her, Sarah
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
i really have no words...
Anwen Hayward
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq, ya
I received an ARC from Netgalley and Soho Teen in exchange for my honest review.

This is a hard book to review. I was so desperate to love it. A wlw retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice sounded like the best thing ever. I wish it had lived up to my expectations. Maybe that's my fault for wanting too much from it.

In my view, simply having the protagonist state over and over again 'I'm like Orpheus because I'm going to rescue the girl I love' does not a retelling make. The idea
hope is feeling ~spoopy~
It's really hard to rate this book. Because while I think it could have been written better, it's an important book and I'm glad it's being published.

This book takes the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and modifies it to a story set circa early 2000s. Raya and Sarah are two lesbian teenagers who grow up in a small southern town, have their relationship exposed at a party, and are then sent to a camp by their families to be "fixed" with the help of religion-based therapy and electr
May 30, 2019 rated it did not like it
I wanted to love this book so much. Rural teen lesbian romance + Greek mythology seems to hit all the spots for me. Yet, halfway through, I was horrified to find that a 1/4-1/3 of this book focuses on graphic details of electroshock therapy. These descriptions did not feel like they were interrogating that past and present atrocities inflicted upon queer communities - instead it felt as if these scenes functioned as mere plot device, a way of illustrating the modern day Underworld from which our ...more
Elise (TheBookishActress)
reading this blurb genuinely made me tense up. this is absolutely going to shatter me and it will be worth it.
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brynne Rebele-Henry’s debut novel is heart breaking, intense, gripping and informative

Raya is from a small town in Texas living with her grandmother. Without the help of her mother that she never knew Raya has grown up learning and discovering things about herself, her body and her emotions with her best friend Sarah. But Raya and Sarah are more than just friends, they have hidden their love for years, but when their secret gets out both of them are sent to a conversion therapy camp.
Stephanie Gillespie
Arc provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review.
Ashley Owens
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received an electronic ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Was it painful? Yes. Was it beautiful? Also yes.

I sped through this book - I was hungry for it. The gorgeous words, the hard truths, and the engaging story. Every word felt purposeful, and I was completely immersed in the story.

If I have one complaint, it would be that I feel like I didn't get to know the side characters as well as I would have liked, including Sarah who is the MC's lov
Justine (Milkz)
3.5 rounded up.

Oof. RTC
Katy Alice (The Girl in the Garret)
I’ll keep it short. This book reads like someone read ‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post’ and thought “I like this, but it should have more trauma and less character development!”... I had high hopes, the description pulled me in but ultimately let me down. I wanted Raya’s supposed obsession with mythology to manifest as crucial to the story (in content or form) I wanted it to demonstrably mean something to her... but it didn’t. The publishers over-promise and so the novel (novelette?) under-deli ...more
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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 f ...more
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