|photo: Julieta Salgado
Gabby Rivera (she/her) is a queer Puerto Rican writer from the Bronx, N.Y. Rivera's debut novel, Juliet Takes a Breath, was called "f**king outstanding" by Roxane Gay and was just published in hardcover for the first time by Dial Books for Young Readers. Rivera is first Latina to write for Marvel Comics (America, the debut solo series for America Chavez). You can catch Rivera on tour this fall and follow her on Instagram.
On your nightstand now:
Pleasure Activism by adrienne maree brown is by my side at all times. Under my pillows. Stuffed between blankets and snacks in my bag. And when I'm trying to re-center myself, I reach for it. Pleasure Activism reminds me that I'm worthy of love, pleasure and deep, affectionate, liberatory relationships with other QTPOC.
Also, Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson because I just met her and oh my god, what a miraculous human being she is. Plus, the writing in Shout is gorgeous, like everything I aspire to in my secret heart of hearts.
Favorite book when you were a child:
I read and re-read Matilda by Roald Dahl like a million times as a kid. Matilda's brilliance and deep-rooted sense of kid justice fascinated me. Also, I think my first ever crush was on Ms. Honey, book and movie version.
As a kid, all I ever wanted was to go on a wild adventure. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis gave me that and more. They were kids who had a whole other magical life in another realm and it was so damn inspirational.
And of course, Superfudge and Deenie by Judy Blume, Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman, the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine, The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Sideways Stories from Wayside High by Louis Sachar... any and all books where kids got to act all goofy and real, where they got to be free in the world.
Note: I totally hate that I had to learn, as an adult, that both Dahl and Lewis were super problematic--racist, anti-Semitic and sexist. But thankfully, now my whole damn life is dedicated to reading and amplifying works by queer and trans folks of color.
Your top five authors:
Vanessa Mártir, Nayyirah Waheed, Roxane Gay, Audre Lorde and Cristy Road.
Book you've faked reading:
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Thought I could handle the watered-down version of science but, alas, I could not.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Bingo Love by Tee Franklin, cuz we deserve to be swept off our feet and filled with all the butterflies of first love. It's about two church girls, Hazel and Mari, who fall for each other during the 1960s in Atlanta--like can you get any dreamier? Nope. You cannot.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Lotería by Mario Alberto Zambrano
Book you hid from your parents:
Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice because I grew up Pentecostal Protestant Evangelical and anything with vampires, witchcraft, etc. was considered "of the devil." A book with his name on it would have sent my parents spiraling into a prayer circle or something. I hid Memnoch under my pillows, blankets, other books and let myself be thrilled and terrified late at night when everyone else was sleeping.
Book that changed your life:
Flaming Iguanas by Erika Lopez is that book. It's the first book I read that wasn't a kids book, where people talked like I did.
Tomato Rodriguez is a sh*t-talking, motorcycle-riding, bisexual, tattooed Puerto Rican babe on a cross-country road trip. I didn't even know someone could be all those things back when I was a teenager. She cursed, spit, f*cked and cried and didn't give one damn about what anyone else thought, and without her, I wouldn't have ever seen the impact of a truly relatable character. Without Tomato f*cking Rodriguez, I wouldn't have known that you could put yourself, your mannerisms, your family and all the other wild things in your life into a story and make magic.
Flaming Iguanas is one of my forever books.
Favorite line from a book:
"Standing there in the gateway between life and death, I was a divine incarnation of my own strange predicament; where I'd always been neither/nor, suddenly I was both and all and so much more. I was the crisis of the universe, the turning point and fulcrum upon which all life and death spun." --Battle Hill Bolero, Daniel José Older
Five books you'll never part with:
Flaming Iguanas by Erika Lopez
salt. by Nayyirah Waheed
Palante: Young Lords Party by Young Lords Party
Pleasure Activism by adrienne maree brown
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez