Saturday, November 12, 2016

Book Review: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Title: If I Was Your Girl
Author: Meredith Russo
Published: 2016
Source: Edelweiss

Summary: Amanda is moving to a new town - always traumatic for a high-schooler, but she has even more to worry about than most teenage girls. In this small, conservative town, her very life could be in danger if people discover she was originally named Andrew.

She's coming to live with her father after a terrible transphobic incident in her mom's hometown. Her dad wasn't nearly as supportive as her mom throughout her transition, so that will be weird. But at least nobody here knows who she used to be, and for Amanda, it's like the shackles falling off.

First Impressions: This was a fascinating look into the experience of living as a transgender girl. Some of it felt very wish-fulfillment but there were some wrenchingly honest moments too.

Later On: Like George (which, spoiler, I loved) this is a book about a trans character written by a trans person, and I'm told a trans model was used for the cover. Also like George, the value of this shows in Amanda's lived experience.

Like I said, a fair amount of her new life smacks of wish fulfillment. She easily acquires a crowd of popular, genuine friends and an adorable boyfriend, and (spoiler!) she gets named homecoming queen! However, it's not all sunshine and roses. In the brief flashbacks to Andrew's life, you can see her depression and despair, and her new life isn't absent of trauma and harassment once people learn about her past.

I also liked that the people around her, even the sympathetic ones, have realistic, complex emotions regarding her transition, but they aren't allowed to narratively overwhelm Amanda's own journey. This isn't a book about her parents' uncertainty over suddenly having a daughter instead of a son, or her boyfriend's conflicted feelings over the fact that she was once biologically male. While these all clearly impact her, this book is about Amanda finally, openly living life as the person she's always been.

More: Abby the Librarian
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