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Review: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

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

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 277
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location (my 2017 Google Reading map)USA (TN and GA)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school in Lambertville, Tennessee. Like any other girl, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. There's a reason why she transferred schools for her senior year, and why she's determined not to get too close to anyone.

And then she meets Grant Everett. Grant is unlike anyone she's every met--open, honest, kind--and Amanda can't help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she finds herself yearning to share everything about herself...including her past. But she's terrified that once she tells Grant the truth, he won't be able to see past it. Because the secret that Amanda's been keeping? It's that she used to be Andrew.

Review: Another incredible YA book; I am on a roll! No wonder this won the ALA Stonewall Award for YA books dealing with LGBTQ issues. Characters who are transgender are just starting to emerge in mainstream literature and YA books are the perfect place because there are many transgender or gender fluid teenagers (and children) out there and they need to see themselves in books!

I love that Amanda knew she was in the wrong body from an early age as that really is quite common. The story takes place during Amanda's senior year in high school, but through some flashback chapters, we learn that for Amanda, being Andrew just felt wrong all along. We learn of Amanda's family's reaction to her wanting to be a girl, to her school mates' reactions to her transition. We also read of her past suicide attempt, which is so important because transgender youth attempt suicide about 40% more often than non-transgender teenagers.

The events and other characters in this book are excellent. We meet other people who are transgender, both male and female, people who handle Amanda's experience well and those who do not (this is of course, very tense for the reader). Characters panic, are angry, sad, and love Amanda no matter what; the book definitely covers the spectrum of responses. It sounds like all of this could be cliché, but it isn't and that has to be in part because the author is a transgender woman herself. She knows what it is like to live this life, to have friends and family react in various ways, and it shows in this wonderful book. 

Challenges for which this counts:

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