If I Was Your Girl

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18-year-old Amanda Hardy is the new senior at Lambertville High School in Tennessee. She just moved down there to live with her dad, after her time at her previous school ended in a suicide attempt and left her scarred and too terrified to return. High school should not be dangerous, but for Amanda, it is. Because she was born Andrew.

But Lambertville is a new chance, a new opportunity to fit in and make friends and have a life beyond Saturday evening take-out with her mom. As the new girl, she is automatically intriguing to both boys and girls alike. And not only does she make a circle of friends in the close-knit conservative town, she also meets the boy of her dreams. But how close friends can they be, when she can’t be honest with them?

This is the story of a girl who wants to fit in, have a “normal” high school experience, and not have to look over her shoulder. It is the story of family. And it is a fun boy-meets-girl-and-they-fall-in-love story. It is the story of a girl who hasn’t received a lot of love and respect in her life, and is now surrounded by friends and family who give it to her. And what is awesome is she realizes she deserves it.

Despite a suicide attempt and some quite graphic violence, the novel isn’t that dark.  It has moments of light and joy and humour, and real-life high-school experiences that took me back to those years, hanging out with friends, shopping for prom dresses with giggling girls, first kisses.

There are tons of characters that surround Amanda in the novel – her mom and dad, the girls who make up her circle, Bee, Grant, Parker, and so many more. The friends run the gamut from religious to fashionista to closeted lesbian to bi. Some are judgey, some accepting. Grant is sweet and protective. Her parents are present throughout, and although her mom struggles at first to understand, in the end just wants her child alive and happy. Dad takes longer to accept her and vacillates between feeling self-righteously unsupportive one moment, and in the next, trying to find a way to accept and protect his child.

The big reveal was well done and not in the way I expected. And as much as I always want closure, the open ending is perfect for this story.

This is a story about a trans girl written by a trans woman, with a cover that features a beautiful trans model. Read the author’s notes at the end. She writes separate messages to both the trans and the non-trans community and explains her motivations for writing the novel the way she did. Incredible.

Is the portrayal of Amanda’s life as a trans woman realistic?  Not totally, according to author Meredith Russo, but life can be difficult enough for trans teens, and perhaps reading something that is not 100% true to most experiences can give hope, and offer the belief that life can get better and there can be acceptance.

If I Was Your Girl was published May 3rd, 2016 by Flatiron Books.

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17 thoughts on “If I Was Your Girl

  1. I’m glad that Meredith made a point to say that Amanda’s story isn’t representative of all trans people, especially young trans people, but I think this a great story that any one can relate to & the fact that it’s own voices is rewarding to everyone. I’m glad you liked it!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m so glad you reviewed this book, Stefanie. I’d actually removed it from my TBR (despite being nonbinary myself, and wanting to read more trans lit) because I’d seen a number of reviews labeling it boring fluff. You frame it much more compellingly: gentle and uplifting. Looks like it’s going back on my TBR!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been meaning to read this one, and your review just reminded me why I put it on my TBR in the first place! I def need to read more books about transgender people and by transgender authors, and this looks like a great candidate. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a lovely review. <33 I have seen criticisms about the story not being a "realistic" representation of trans experiences for teens, but I think the author's reasoning for why she chose to write Amanda's story this way makes a lot of sense. I stand firmly behind Meredith Russo and am glad this novel exists!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Such a lovely review.
    I really enjoyed this book. I loved how the author married the past and present without losing too much flow. I thought the book never became too sugary or
    heavy. The balance was good. The ending almost seemed secondary to the internal acceptance and the new found hope that Amanda has at the end. Lovely review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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