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Orpheus Girl

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  1,399 ratings  ·  415 reviews
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, Sa
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published October 8th 2019 by Soho Teen
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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Apr 29, 2019 marked it as to-read
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
Nenia ⭐️ Queen of Awkward ⭐️ Campbell

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ORPHEUS GIRL is a loose retelling of the Greek Orpheus myth. In it, a girl named Raya is sent to a conversion therapy camp after she is caught having sex with her girlfriend, Sarah, in a conservative Texas town. There, the two of them are reunited, but it's bittersweet. In addition to the rigid gender role exercises and constant confessions, a terrible threat looms over them all.

So this book was... kind of amazing, actually. I was a litt
Whitney Atkinson
2.5 stars

Thanks to the publisher for an advanced review copy!

This cover and the fact that this book is f/f gave me major Nina Lacour vibes, so I’m sad I didn’t enjoy this as much as I wish I would’ve. I’ll be first to admit that I’m not hugely well versed on Greek mythology, so I had to Google the myth of Orpheus and go from there. The character guide in the back was also really helpful to see how the story correlated to the myth. But other than having a cool plot structure and a strong bond bet
Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
I didn’t immediately want to write a review for this one because I can’t stand writing 3 star reviews but here we go! Let’s attempt this!

Things I liked:
-Mythological elements, specifically the Orpheus retelling element and how present it was in the story
-The characters
-The writing, it was beautiful and it was easy to get through
-The length. For the content, I’m glad this wasn’t longer because I don’t think I could have handled it.

Things I didn’t like:
-Char as a “villain” or whatever she was curr
Fadwa (Word Wonders)
I received a DRC of this book from edelweiss in exchange of an honest review

CW: homophobia, conversion therapy, transphobia, deadnaming, car crash, electroshock therapy, violent homophobic hate speech, starving, suicide attempt, self-harm

If I have one book I regret reading this year, it’s this one. My story with it started when I heard it was an Orpheus and Eurydice retelling, so in me fashion without looking for more information, I requested it and was approved. Later on, I find out that it cen
Liv Morris
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
Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)

Many thanks to Soho Teen for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

Putting this down for now. Right now, I'm trying to stick to lighter books.


This sounds like the perfect blend of heartbreaking, funny and, in the end, inspiring.

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anna (½ of readsrainbow)
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 props
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
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 think
3.5 stars

Orpheus Girl is the story of Raya, a girl in love with her best friend Sarah, who is struggling to hide her sexual awakening in the Deep South. Raised by her grandmother, she must decide whether to succumb to peer pressure and live a life of lies or rescue her lover from hell - a conversion camp.

This is a loose Orpheus and Eurydice retelling, as Raya loves Greek mythology and compares a lot of her struggles to the Greek tragedies. Her mother, who she refers to as Aphrodite, abandoned h
Rebecca McNutt
Orpheus Girl is one of those books that writes about LGBT characters suffering to the point when it comes off as glorifying their struggles, when it should have the opposite effect. The book's scenario is not a novel concept in fiction; films like But I'm a Cheerleader, which is about as old as I am and has aged surprisingly well, were doing it years ago and with much more subtle cleverness. Moreover, that film made me really care about its characters. Orpheus Girl does try... it tries maybe too ...more
Aug 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 to hell this w
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 wante
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 a
Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
This one started out really good in the first few pages. Our main character confused and mysterious and dark and delicious. A mother who she only knows as someone playing Aphrodite on screen and she being the daughter longing for her mother. Our main character is also confused about her sexuality and she so knows what's going to happen if she jumps into a forbidden relationship.

But baam! The relationship happens. She's no longer confused. Everything keeps happening and the writing got too boring
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 bad yet, but I've
rachael ♡
"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 homo
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this was beautiful and raw and real. i really, really liked it.
Yna the Mood Reader
Dec 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, audiobook
"Maybe I was wrong about my wings. I think that maybe the myth about Orpheus isn’t about losing your love: it is about learning how not to look back."

📚 Series:  No.
📚 Genre: YA LGBTQ+ Fiction.
📚 POV:  First person.
📚 Cliffhanger: No.

⚠ Content Warnings:  Conversion therapy (Use of freezing water & Electroshocking), Homophobia, Transphobia, Suicide (Attempts), Starvation, LGBTQ+ Violence, Unconsented Outing, Using Slurs
⚠ Read if: you loved We Are Okay by Nina LaCour and other similar r
anna grace
i’m shaking in my boots that was powerful
Update 5/31/20 5 Stars Again! One of my favorites!

5 Stars!

"I can find the strength to fight again."

I have never related to a character so much. I see so much of myself in Raya, and the struggles she faces in her small town I completely felt on a personal level as I also live in a southern small town. Throughout High School, all my queer friends were ostracized just for being queer, so it was so much easier to hide in the closet. Raya goes through the exact same thing and I h
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, lgbt, arc, contemporary, romance
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, but I really lo
Eva B.
Orpheus Girl is very short at under 200 pages, and I think its issue is that it has too much story. The prose is beautiful, and I loved Raya, Sarah, and Leon, but between the weirdly nonlinear storytelling at the beginning and the rushed ending, it loses a star. You know how people criticize The Miseducation of Cameron Post for having too much fluff at the beginning? This is kind of the same way, with Sarah and Raya being caught together multiple times and Raya reflecting on her realization of h ...more
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i really have no words...
Athena Archeron
"You know, the thing about family is that you can choose it. And I choose you."

I want to start out this review by saying that the re-education camps LGBTQ+ individuals are often forced into is a topic that needs to be written about more. This is a real problem in the United States, and around the world. The "treatments" people face in these camps are horrendous, and a violation of the most basic human rights. It is time their stories take center stage, instead of being swept under the rug.

That b
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 behind this book is inc
Emmy Neal
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: diverse-reads
ooof, this book was hard to read. Exquisitely written, with great character, but also explicit and brutal torture scenes. I'm torn between the "this book is an important view of a terrible experience that queer kids from conservative families still endure" and "life is hard enough, give queer kids positive gay stories instead." I'd only recommend it with trigger warnings.
♛ cameron ♛
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
TW: Homophobia, Forced Outing, Absent Parents, Conversion Therapy, Transphobia, Attempted Suicide, Incorrect Pronoun Use

I’ve noticed this book has started getting three star reviews from the straights but I guess that’s to be expected with f/f romances and them these days. I just don’t understand how anyone can see this story as anything less than impactful. One of the biggest complaints I’ve seen is that people think this is too short which I heavily disagree with. First of all, who would want
daniela ascencio
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
I don't know why it takes me more time to write a review of a contemporary book than any other genre.


Raya, like many other queer teens, had to deal with not only homophobia in every person surrounding her but also internalized homophobia. She lives with the constant fear of being discovered and what will happen if she would, until she does.


I have seen so many people rating this book three stars, and may I ask why? I'm not a contemporary fan but I can recogni
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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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“You know, the thing about family is that you can choose it. And I choose you.” 1 likes
“But I do look back. I do. Because she’s so beautiful and I’m so scared of going somewhere without her because my whole life, even before I knew it, I’ve always had Sarah. And when I look back at her, she disappears and I’m alone again.” 1 likes
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