Just finished: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Here’s the blurb:

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself, including her past. But Amanda’s terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that at her old school, she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life, and her new love?

My thoughts:

Woof! This book was so good, but also so hard. As I mentioned on Goodreads, there should be a trigger warning for suicide here. She touches on the subject early and it comes up several times, all of which are hard to read. There is also a lot of violence against trans folk which can also be graphic and hard to get through, but necessary for the truth of the story.

I definitely recommend reading the Author’s Note at the end of the book. She addressed a lot of my concerns about the portrayal of Amanda in this book and the plurality of trans and genderqueer experiences. I will say I was very excited to read a book about a trans character, written by a trans author, who used a trans model for the cover. Goooo representation!

Because this was a young adult novel, it was a fast read. That being said, there were some gems in this book. Both in turn of phrase and insight the book knocked it out of the park. The metaphors were rich and thoughtful. Yet there was a spareness to the prose that kept it from being as sugary as some YA fare. And thank you Meredith Russo for not cheapening the story by wrapping it in a pretty bow at the end.

I highly recommend this to anyone who wants a better understanding of what life can be for lgbtq youth in our current culture. Librarians should have this in their back pocket as a suggestion for teens and adults alike. Parents who have kids struggling with their sexuality or gender identity should also give it a read.

Overall: 5 stars


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