Title: The Bermudez Triangle
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publication Date: 17 May 2007
Pages: 384 pages
Start Date: 27 April
Finish Date: 1 May
The Bermudez Triangle is about Nina, Avery and Mel – three best friends. Whilst Nina is away for the summer, Avery and Mel fall for each other. When Nina returns home and finds sees them kissing in a changing room at a shop, everything changes for the three of them. Avery and Mel are figuring out their sexuality and Nina is dealing with what it like to have her two best friends dating.
I’m just going to give a basic overview of my thoughts before I get into my main issue with this novel.
Nina, Mel and Avery all had their own distinct personalities and I liked that. Since there are three main characters who are all female and all the same age, it was sometimes difficult to tell them apart. At the start of this novel, I have to admit that I got confused when the point of view changed and I would miss the character name mentioned at the start then be wondering why they were doing something completely irrelevant, when I noticed the point of view had changed I had to go back to the start of the chapter and read it again. But this stopped being an issue as I got further into the book and got used to it. Sometimes the point of view would change in the middle of the chapter which was quite jarring. I think it would have just been better to only change it at the start of each chapter.
The plot was what drove me to pick this book up. I saw it on goodreads and was intrigued with the idea of a f/f romance between two of three best friends. The plot was alright, and I think if it had been written by someone else I might have enjoyed it. The idea was good but the execution just wasn’t.
Okay. So my main issue here is the blatant biphobia in this novel. I will include quotes from here on and discuss them and just let you all know my opinion. I would just like to add here that I, myself, identify as bisexual (not that my sexuality is relevant to the fact that these quotes are still biphobic).
So I didn’t personally notice much issues until Nina saw Avery and Mel in the changing room at the shop. From then on there were just so many lines and I just thought really ??
I was feeling uncomfortable with some of the language used in this book before but decided it might just have been my own personal experience and that I was just sensitive to some language. But the first time I decided something was bad enough that I had to tab it with a post-it was on page 121. So to give some context, Avery is in the canteen and is looking at a table of uncloseted lgbt+ students and is describing some of the people who are sitting there.
“Or Felicia Clark, the out-spoken “If you have a pulse, I’m interested” bisexual sex addict.”
So this is obviously biphobic. And an extremely harmful bisexual stereotype to include. I don’t even have words to explain my anger and disgust at the stereotyping and language used around bisexuals in this novel. I’m just going to put a block of quotes used throughout this novel down below and you can see for yourself that this author is clearly biphobic.
“The bi girls, they go back and forth.”
“You like guys too?” Nina asked.
Avery felt her skin flushing. Something about that question made her feel like . . . a glutton. Like she wanted everyone. Guys girls, dogs, cats, populations of whole cities.”
“She had guys on the brain. She’d eyed up every single one of her male customers at work.”
So all I basically want to say about what’s above is that it is just stereotyping bisexuals as greedy. Which they’re obviously not, straight people don’t want to be with every one of the opposite gender just like gay people don’t want to be with every one of the opposite gender. Bisexuals still have standards.
The fact that Avery cheated on Mel with Gaz is also just stereotyping bisexuals as greedy and cheaters. There is also an instance in the book where Avery is with Gaz and it says “Gaz has something she needed right now.” This is referencing the fact that Gaz just had something that Mel didn’t and Avery needed a male at that point in time even thought she wanted to be with Mel.
There are other issues in this book that I’ll get into. There were points where Nina worried about being homophobic for reasons that seemed weird to me. Like when she was at the dance with Mel, as friends, and someone asked her to dance. Nina said yes because she didn’t want to seem homophobic and because it was only dancing. There were other times this sort of thing happened in the book too. I just feel that she worried about being homophobic all the time instead of just treating the lgbt+ characters like normal people. The lgbt+ characters still get rejected by other lgbt+ people and straight people, it happens and it just seemed to be such a big issue over the smallest things with Nina.
Let’s also talk about the fact that Parker went straight out and just asked Mel if she was gay. Like excuse me? Since when was just straight out asking someone if they were gay an okay thing to do? He says that it isn’t an issue to him but he just wanted to know from her but it’s not really information that he is entitled to want to know from her. Mel’s sexuality is nothing to do with Parker and I just think it’s rude.
There was also the quote “Short hair was predominant, and it came in every style-spiked, slicked, buzzed, swept back.” This is a quote from Mel’s point of view when she is at the lgbt+ dance with Nina. Because apparently all lgbt+ people have short hair!!!
Another part that I really just didn’t agree with, was when Avery’s parents are supportive of her when they think she is a lesbian and Avery tells them that she isn’t. This is from Avery’s point of view.
“She [Avery’s mum] almost seemed disappointed – nearly as disappointed as Avery was that her resolutely normal mother was all too ready to accept her as a lesbian. No fuss, no look of shock or dismay. It was profoundly irritating.”
So Avery was annoyed that her mum would have supported her as a lesbian. Avery wanted her mum to fuss about it and make a big deal out of it? She found it “profoundly irritating”. Wow, okay? Well there are many people in the world who would love their parents to support their sexuality and Avery is just irritated that her mum would have supported her.
There are two other quotes I want to bring light to in this review. They’re not about lgbt+ situations but mental health areas. I personally don’t suffer from the two mental health issues mentioned but still find their use problematic.
“I have all these good ideas for restaurants. I want to open one for bulimics called The Fork and Bucket.”
EXCUSE ME? WHAT? SINCE WHEN WERE JOKES ABOUT BULIMIA FUNNY? MAKING FUN OF SOMEONES MENTAL HEALTH IS NOT FUNNY. MENTAL HEALTH IS NOT A JOKE.
“I dare you to make Mel stop OCDing around the room”
Just want to say that there is a difference between having OCD and acting weird or being organised. These jokes make OCD less valid and the subject of stupid jokes when people actually suffer from this illness.
So to finish off I just want to say that I am aware that this is ‘just fiction’, but that isn’t an excuse. The use of all these problematic quotes and situations allow people to think it is okay to do in real life. I am also aware that this book was published ten years ago and that society has changed in their acceptance of these quotes, but my opinion on the issue is still the same. I’m not going to adjust my feelings towards these problems just because it was written a few years ago. The quotes were still problematic then, they just weren’t spoken about as much.
So if you didn’t notice, I wasn’t a fan of this book. The only reason it wasn’t a one star is because I enjoyed the idea of the plot and I think that if this book had been written by a different author, it could have been good. I wouldn’t recommend this book and I definitely won’t be picking up any of this author’s other work.