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The award-winning, big-hearted novel about being seen for who you really are, and a love story you can't help but root for
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?
Meredith Russo’s If I Was Your Girl has been named:
Stonewall Book Award Winner
Walter Dean Myers Honor Book for Outstanding Children's Literature
iBooks YA Novel of the Year
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year
An Amazon Best Book of the Year
A Goodreads Choice Award Finalist
A Zoella Book Club Selection
A Barnes & Noble Best YA Book of the Year
A Bustle Best YA Book of the Year
An ABA IndieNext Top 10 Pick
One of Flavorwire’s 50 Books Every Modern Teenager Should Read
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
If I Was Your Girl
By Meredith Russo
Flatiron BooksCopyright © 2016 Alloy Entertainment
All rights reserved.
The bus smelled of mildew, machine oil, and sweat. As the suburban Atlanta sprawl disappeared behind us, I tapped my foot on the floor and chewed a lock of my newly long hair. A nagging voice reminded me that I was only a half hour from home, that if I got off at the next stop and walked back to Smyrna, by sunset I could be in the comfort of my own bedroom, the familiar smell of Mom's starchy cooking in the air. She would hug me and we would sit down and watch awful reality TV shows together and she would fall asleep halfway through, and then nothing would change.
But something had to change. Because I had changed.
As I stared out at the swiftly moving trees, my mind was in a mall bathroom back in the city, the images shifting and jumbling like a kaleidoscope: A girl from my school, her scream as she recognized me. Her father rushing in, his rough, swift hands on my neck and shoulders. My body hitting the ground.
"You okay?" a voice practically screamed in my ear. I looked up to see a guy wearing earbuds, his chin resting on the back of the seat in front of me. He gave me a lopsided smile as he pulled out the headphones. "Sorry."
"It's fine," I said. He stared at me, drumming his fingers on the headrest. I felt like I should say something, but I didn't trust my voice not to give me away.
"Where you headed?" He draped himself across the back of his seat like a cat, his arms nearly grazing my shins. I wished I could roll up into a tiny, armored ball and hide in my luggage.
"Lambertville," I said quietly. "Up in Hecate County."
"I'm going to Knoxville," he said, before going on to talk about his band, Gnosis Crank. I realized he'd only asked about me as a formality so he could talk about himself, but I didn't mind; it meant I didn't have to say that much. He told me about playing their first paying gig at a bar in Five Points.
"Cool," I said.
"Most of our songs are online if you wanna check them out."
"How'd you get that black eye, by the way?"
"Was it your boyfriend?" he asked.
My cheeks burned. He scratched his chin. He assumed I had a boyfriend. He assumed I was a girl. Under different circumstances, that would have thrilled me.
"I fell down," I said.
His smile turned sad.
"That's what my mom used to tell the neighbors," he said. "She deserved better, and so do you."
"Okay," I said, nodding. Maybe he was right, but what I deserved and what I could expect from life were two different things. "Thank you."
"No problem," he said as he put his headphones back in. He smiled and added, "Nice meeting you," way too loudly before returning to his seat.
As we headed north on I-75 I texted Mom, letting her know I was okay and halfway there. She wrote back that she loved me, though I could feel her worry through the phone. I imagined her in our house all alone, Carrie Underwood playing on loop while the ceiling fans whispered overhead. Her hands covered in flour folded on the table in front of her, too many biscuits in the oven because she was used to cooking for two. If I'd had the strength to be normal, I thought, or at least the strength to die, then everyone would have been happy.
"Next stop Lambertville," the bus driver called over the harsh, tinny intercom. Outside the windows, none of the scenery had changed. The mountains looked the same. The trees looked the same. We could have been anywhere in the South, which is to say, nowhere. It seemed like the sort of place where Dad would live.
My hands shook as the bus lurched to a stop. I was the only passenger who stood up. The musician looked up from his magazine and nodded while I gathered my things. An older man with leathery skin and a sweat-stained work shirt scanned me from my feet to my neck without making eye contact. I stared straight ahead and pretended not to notice.
The door rattled open and the bus let out a hiss. I closed my eyes, whispered a short prayer to a god I wasn't sure really listened anymore, and stepped down. The sickly humid afternoon heat hit me like a solid wall.
It had been six years since I had seen my father. I had rehearsed this moment over and over in my head. I would run up and hug him, and he would kiss the top of my head, and for the first time in a long time, I would feel safe.
"That you?" Dad asked, his voice muffled by the bass rumble of the bus engine. I squinted against the harsh light. He wore a pair of wire-rim sunglasses, and his hair was at least half silver now. Deep lines had formed around his mouth. Mom called these "laugh lines," so I wasn't sure how he had gotten them. Only his mouth was as I remembered it: the same thin, horizontal slash.
"Hi, Dad," I said. The sunglasses made it easier to look him in the face. We both stood rooted in place.
"Hi," he said after a while. "Put your things in the back." He opened the wagon's hatch and got in the car. I deposited my luggage and joined him. I remembered this car; it was at least ten years old, but Dad was good with machines. "You must be hungry."
"Not really," I said. I hadn't been hungry in a while. I hadn't cried in a while. Mostly I just felt numb.
"You should eat." He glanced at me as he pulled out of the parking lot. His lenses had become transparent, and behind them, his eyes were a flat, almost grayish brown. "There's a diner close to the apartment. If we get there now we'll have the place to ourselves."
"That's nice." Dad had never been social, but a little voice in my head said he didn't want to be seen with me. I took a deep breath. "Your glasses are cool."
"Oh?" He shrugged. "Astigmatism got worse. These help."
"It's good that you got it treated," I said, my words as staggered and awkward as I felt. I looked down at my lap.
"You've got my eyes, you know. You should take care of yourself."
"We'll take you to the optometrist soon. Need to get your eye looked at after that shiner anyway."
"Yes, sir." A billboard rose from the trees to the left, depicting a cartoon soldier firing red, white, and blue sparks from a bazooka. GENERAL BLAMMO'S FIREWORK SHACK. We turned into the sun so his eyes were hidden again, his jaw set in a way I didn't know how to read. "What did Mom tell you?"
"She was worried about you," he said. "She said you weren't safe where you were living."
"Did she tell you about what happened sophomore year? When I ... was in the hospital?"
His knuckles whitened on the steering wheel. He stared ahead silently as we passed an old brick building with a tarnished steeple. The sign read NEW HOPE BAPTIST CHURCH. A Walmart loomed behind it.
"We can talk about that later." He adjusted his glasses and sighed. The lines in his skin seemed to deepen. I wondered how he had aged so much in six years, but then I remembered how much I had changed too.
"Sorry," I said. "I shouldn't have brought it up." I watched the patchwork tobacco farms roll by. "It's just, you never called or wrote."
"Wasn't sure what I could say," he said. "It's been hard coming to terms with ... everything."
"Have you come to terms now that you've seen me?"
"Give me time, kiddo." His lips puckered as they formed the last word, so unusually informal for him. "I guess I'm just old-fashioned."
The turn signal clicked in time with my heart as the car slowed. We pulled up in front of the Sartoris Dinner Car, an actual converted railroad car on a cinder-block foundation.
"I understand," I said. I imagined how I must look to him, and my mind leaped to fill in all the worst things I had ever felt about myself. "My name is Amanda now though, in case you forgot."
"Okay," he said. He killed the engine, opened the door, and hesitated. "Okay, Amanda. I can do that." He walked to the front door in that clockwork way of his, hands in his pockets and elbows pointed at symmetrical angles. I couldn't help seeing my reflection in the window: a gangly teenage girl with long, brown hair in a cotton shirt and shorts rumpled from travel.
A bell jingled as we entered the empty diner. A sleepy-eyed waitress looked up and smiled. "Hi, Mr. Hardy!"
"Afternoon, Mary Anne," he said, grinning broadly and waving as he took a seat at the counter. That smile gave me a feeling of vertigo. He had smiled when I was seven and I told him I wanted to try out for Little League. He had smiled when I was nine and I agreed to go hunting with him. I couldn't remember any other times. "Heard your granny had a stroke. How y'all holding up?"
"She says heaven don't want her and hell's afraid she'd take over," the girl said, pulling a notebook and pen from her apron and walking over. "The physical therapy's been a bear, though."
"She can do it if anybody can," Dad said. He slid his menu to her without looking at it. "Sweet tea and a Caesar salad with chicken, please."
She nodded. "And who's this with you?" she asked, turning to me. My eyes flicked from her to Dad.
"I'm Amanda," I said. She looked like she expected more information, but I had no idea what Dad had told people about his family. What if he told them he had one child, a son? I shakily handed her my menu and said, "I would like a waffle and Diet Coke please, ma'am, thank you."
"She's my daughter," Dad said after a moment, his voice halting and stiff.
"Well, she looks just like you!" We exchanged an uncomfortable look as Mary Anne trotted off to get our drinks.
"She seems nice," I said.
"She's a good waitress," Dad said. He nodded stiffly. I drummed my fingers on the counter and wiggled my foot back and forth absentmindedly.
"Thank you for letting me stay with you," I said softly. "It means a lot."
"Least I could do."
Mary Anne brought our food and excused herself to greet a pair of white-haired older men in plaid work shirts.
One of the men stopped to talk to Dad. His nose was round and spider-webbed with purple veins, his eyes hidden under storm-cloud brows. "Who's this little beam of sunshine?" he asked, leaning past Dad to wave at me. I turned so he couldn't see my black eye.
"Amanda," Dad mumbled. "My daughter."
The man whistled and slapped Dad's shoulder. "Well, no wonder I ain't seen her before! If I had a daughter as cute as this'n I'd keep her hid away too." My cheeks burned. "You just tell me if any of the boys get too fresh, now, and I'll loan you my rifle."
"I don't think that will be a problem," Dad said haltingly.
"Oh, trust me," he said, winking, "I had three daughters, not a one of them half as pretty as this one in their time, and it was still all I could do to keep the boys away."
"Okay," Dad said. "Thanks for the advice. Looks like your coffee's getting cold."
The man said goodbye, winked again, and walked stiffly to his seat. I turned my attention straight ahead. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Dad doing the same.
"Ready to go?" he asked finally.
He got up without waiting for a response and threw a twenty-dollar bill on the table next to our half-finished meals. We didn't make eye contact as we got in the car and pulled out of the parking lot.
NOVEMBER, THREE YEARS AGO
The hospital bed creaked as Mom sat and rubbed my leg through the thin blanket. A forced smile tightened her apple cheeks but failed to reach her eyes. Her clothes looked baggy; she must not have eaten since I was admitted, to have lost so much weight.
"I talked with the counselor," she said. Her accent was so different from mine, light and musical.
I said, "What about?" My voice sounded like nothing — flat, toneless, with the faintest deepening that made me never want to speak again. My stomach cramped and twisted.
"When it's safe for you to come home. I told 'em I was worried 'bout what you might do when you're alone, since I can't take any more time off work. I couldn't survive it if I came home and found you ..." she trailed off, staring at the light-yellow wall.
"What did the counselor say?" I had met with him a few days before. When he asked me what was wrong with me, I wrote six words on a notepad, my throat still too sore from the stomach pump to speak.
"He said there's ways to treat what's wrong with you," Mom said. "But he wouldn't say what it is." She peered at me.
"You won't want me to come home if I tell you what's wrong," I said, shifting my eyes down. "You won't ever want to see me again." This was the most I'd said at once in weeks. My throat ached from the effort.
"That ain't possible," she said. "There ain't a thing in God's creation that could undo the love I have for my son."
I brought my wrist up to my chest and looked down. The identification bracelet said my name was Andrew Hardy. If I died, I realized, Andrew was the name they would put on my tombstone.
"What if your son told you he was your daughter?"
My mother was quiet for a moment. I thought of the words I wrote down for the counselor: I should have been a girl.
Finally, she brought her eyes to meet mine. Her expression was fierce, despite her round, red cheeks.
"Listen to me." Her hand squeezed my leg hard enough that the pain broke through the fog of my meds. When she spoke next, I listened. "Anything, anyone, is better than a dead son."CHAPTER 2
Lambertville High sat at the bottom of a hill, dozens of beat-up trucks and station wagons clustered near the entrance. Small pockets of students hovered near the front door, the boys conspicuously slouched and the girls straight-backed and high-chinned, all radiating as much transparent disinterest in one another as possible.
I had barely slept the night before. I gave up trying at five and drank a chocolate-flavored nutritional shake with my medicine: two two-milligram estradiol tablets, which were tiny and blue and tasted like chalk, to feminize my appearance and stand in for the testosterone my body could no longer make, and one ten-milligram Lexapro tablet, which was round and white and waxy, to help me stay calm.
I kept my eyes straight ahead and walked through the double doors, hoping the concealer I wore over the faded, yellowish remnants of my black eye did its job. Inside, the floor was an alternating pattern of green, brown, and gold-flecked white tiles. Fluorescent lights buzzed angrily, but for all their fury, the halls were dimly lit. Display cases lined the walls, shelf after shelf of trophies for cheerleading, marching band, baseball, and especially football, with records reaching back far enough that half the team photos were sepia-toned. The red classroom doors bore faded-looking numbers, and I followed them to 118, the homeroom marked on my schedule.
More than a dozen students sat in groups of three or four, talking so loudly I could hear them in the hall. The room fell quiet as I entered. The girls looked at me and then away again quickly, but a few guys stared for a second longer, their expressions unreadable.
As I moved to find a seat, one face was still turned my way: a tall, lean boy with dark, sharp eyes and wavy black hair. Our eyes caught, and I felt a lurch in my stomach. He sat with another boy, this one tall and bulky with short light hair and a nose that looked like it had been broken before, a half-lidded, sarcastic expression pointed at me. The sarcastic-looking one said something I couldn't make out, and a crimson blush spread across his friend's cheeks.
My heart screamed that they knew, that the one with those piercing eyes was attracted to me for a moment and his friend was making fun of him for it. That was the kind of scenario that got girls like me killed. I had done the research. I knew how often things like that happened. I felt the scar over my ear and remembered that even now that I'd had my surgery, even now that nothing but some legal papers could reveal my past, I was never really safe.
I looked down at my lap and tried to will myself out of existence.
* * *
The cafeteria and the auditorium were the same room. The tables were circular, each seating at most five or six people, and half of the seating was on the stage itself. The higher position was clearly reserved for juniors and seniors.
I sat at an empty table on the stage and opened up Sandman, a comic book my friend Virginia had recommended, and pulled out the vegetable sushi rolls I had prepared the night before. After a few minutes, I marked my place and ducked to put the book away — and looked up to find the black-haired boy from homeroom sitting across from me.
Excerpted from If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo. Copyright © 2016 Alloy Entertainment. Excerpted by permission of Flatiron Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I really appreciate the visibility Russo gave to young trans people with this sweet/sometimes scary novel. As a nonbinary person, it really sent the message that no matter what you are beautiful and I definitely need the reminder. Not a big fan of teen novels but this one held my attention, broke my heart, and carefully mended it back together. Thank you so much for being your true self and telling others that's it's ok.
Great read! It was sad, interesting, real, captivating, and definitely worth your time. My heart broke to think of what transgender people go through. It was so sad, I felt myself tearing up. I am glad someone finally explained the other side of being in a transgender identity crisis. People need to be informed. And it will also educate young ones that are also lost and depressed. Thanks for the inside view. Awesome book!!!!!!
This story awakened feelings that I had not had in years. Well written story and although fiction could only have been written by someone who actually experienced a similar existence.
Just read it, please do yourself a favor and just read it.
Luv Amanda's strength!
This book was amazing!
An absolutely beautiful, vulnerable, at times heart wrenching tale.
4.5 stars. Amanda is just like every other girl, going to a new school, feeling shy, wanting to make friends and be accepted. Except she was born Andrew, not Amanda. This is a very thought-provoking, well-written YA story about the journey of a teenager who ALWAYS imagined herself as a woman, when grown. If, given the homophobia and transphobia that has already almost cost her life, she lives to do so. As stated in the afterword, the author herself is trans, and the story is idealized in some ways. Amanda's parents struggle somewhat with her transition, but ultimately support it, and she is even able to get bottom surgery as a teenager, which is probably not "doable" for most trans teens because of finances. She not only "passes," she's very pretty and the subject of some jealousy. Most of the people in her new life, at her new school, also accept and stand by Amanda wholeheartedly - after some stumbles. Perhaps not wholly realistic. But it's no more unbelievable than a story involving vampires or superpowers, and a lot more heart-warming. Highly recommend.
Although i know some of the situations are too "rosy-colored" to be "typical" of most trans people, I can't gush about this novel enough. Stayed up til 4 in the morning to finish. Can't wait for more from this author.
I am beyond glad I picked this book up. I've been dying to read it for a few months now. When it came in the mail, I was so excited. This book is beautifully written. This book is life changing. I feel like I have a better perspective with the transgender community now. I have never been against the LGBT community whatsoever. But this book shed so much light for me. I know you shouldn't tell someone a book is important for them to read, but this book is important. I think it's important for all high school kids to read this. I think everyone needs this perspective in their mind before they try to judge a person for not being comfortable as the sex they are born with. Amanda is such a beautiful character. She is so strong. She is gorgeous inside and out. She goes through so much in this book, it breaks my heart. She is so brave. I don't think I would have survived if I went through have the things she did. All I have to say about this book is thank you. Thank you for teaching me new things. Thank you for teaching me to love everyone no matter their gender/sexual orientation. Thank you Meredith Russo for writing this book.
First, I cannot stress the IMPORTANCE of reading and writing more books like If I Was Your Girl. I read books to understand myself better AND to understand the people I’m different from, as well as be able to relate to what they’re saying when I do talk to them. NO AMOUNT of diverse books that you read is ever enough, and you (and I) should always be looking out for our next read. Second, I had HIGH EXPECTATIONS from this book, because of what it stands for and also the GREAT things I heard from people who had read it. If I Was Your Girl is centred around a transgender main character and the new life she is attempting to build for herself after the hate and discrimination she faced in her last school, as well as her suicide attempt. All Amanda’s plans for her senior year in a new city is to keep her head down, pass by unnoticed and not get killed. Until, that is, she walks into school and the boys make a beeline to date her and the girls want to be her friend, and Amanda’s days of hiding are over, and living have begun. I liked and also had slight problems with the same aspects in the book, so here goes: 1. WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT: Like I said before, I’M SO PROUD of what this book stands for. It handles a topic SO IMPORTANT to our society, that so many people go through and others should all support. 2. GRANT: He was an AWESOME SAUCE BOY. I loved when he burned the letter that Amanda gave him because nothing would stop him from liking Amanda – it just warmed my stone cold heard. Also, his home life and how he handled it all made me like him a whole lot more. 3. BEE/ VIRGINIA: These were two of my FAVOURITE Secondary characters (despite the unmentionable horrible thing that Bee does) and I loved that they were both LGBTQIA as well! There were these amazing personalities and I instantly fell in love with their bold voices that flew off the page (unlike Amanda’s that took me a while to get used to!) 4. THE SENSE THAT SOMETHING WAS MISSING: I’m going to try my best to explain this – but EVERY dialogue and relationship in this book felt like it was MISSING something. EVERYTHING about Amanda’s past was terrible and EVERYTHING about her new life was sunshine and rainbows. It felt like there was dialogue missing that made up the relationships in this book, missing backstory which I would have LOVED more of – just MISSING. I’m not even sure if that makes sense, but I kept trying to see if there were pages in the middle that I missed out, because it all felt so abrupt. SO SO ABRUPT. 5. THE LACK OF BACKGROUND: While Amanda’s past as Andrew was talked about in flashbacks – in a story like this I WOULD HAVE LOVED MORE. She kept making generalisations from how jocks like Parker were the kind that would “kill her” (?) and it sort of shocked me because WHAT. I then spent the rest of the book waiting for some backstory (and while I will admit Parker was a F**K) I didn’t read anything about a jock that wanted to kill her, which means it was just a STEREOTYPE IN A BOOK TRYING TO BREAK BARRIERS. Despite the problems I had with it, I would DEFINIELY recommend this book to EVERYONE because reading diverse books like this one are SO SO IMPORTANT, but I can’t help but wishing that it was a little better. 3 stars.
Currently a rarity—that is, a novel with a transgender protagonist that’s actually written by a transgender individual—If I Was Your Girl adds an important voice to the universe of Young Adult literature. And it does so it a way that is entertaining, believable, and poignant. This novel contributes a much-needed perspective to contemporary YA lit. Amanda Hardy, a high school senior, tells her story as she arrives in the small town of Lambertville, Tennessee. As she relates in periodic flashbacks, she’s fleeing her former hometown where she was living with her mother and where she was subjected to transphobic bullying and survived a suicide attempt. A very attractive young lady, Amanda “passes” easily and soon makes many friends at her new high school. She also begins a romantic relationship with a dashingly handsome blue-collar boy named Grant, who is unerringly sweet and almost too good to be true. The narrative proceeds in the somewhat typical manner of a teen romance—albeit with the looming inevitably of Amanda’s trans identity being revealed. Much to Russo’s credit, she does not romanticize Amanda’s predicament nor does she pull any punches on the consequences. And, in a very helpful Author’s Note following the narrative, Russo addresses her cisgender and transgender readers, acknowledging some of the artistic shortcuts she took in telling Amanda’s story but in no way apologizing for the necessity of those shortcuts. This is an author who knows her audience and obviously has a long-range plan for the development of her art. I for one look forward to more of her work. I highly recommend If I Was Your Girl to anyone interested in YA literature—and to anyone who desires to better understand the transgender community. This well-written novel is an easy read that tackles a difficult subject.
I couldn't possibly review a book like this from the same insider perspective as a trans girl or woman, but I still found IF I WAS YOUR GIRL to be moving and genuine and EXTREMELY important. Not just because it's written by a trans woman and features a trans girl cover model, but because it's a pretty uplifting story as far as transgender narratives in YA (or heck, in fiction period) go. When Amanda goes to live with her dad in a small Tennessee town following her transition, she makes friends and falls in love for the first time in her life. Although most of the book focuses on how much happier Amanda is able to be now that she's living as her true self, there is also a past timeline that showcases what led Amanda to her transition and how lonely she was before it. IF I WAS YOUR GIRL doesn't shy away from darker topics (suicide and bullying come immediately to mind), and the ending isn't as happy as I was expecting, given the reviews that I've read. What I took away from the story, and what I'm hoping that readers will take away too, is that there can be life after monumental change, and after heartbreak. Transitioning is, in many ways, the start of Amanda's journey instead of the end of the line. It doesn't cost her the friends she's made, or the relationship she's developing with her dad. Instead, Amanda's transition gives her the courage to tell another major character, loudly and proudly, that she has always been a girl even though she was born a boy. And if that moment resonated with me, a straight cis-gendered person, I can only imagine how much it will resonate with trans teens who happen to pick up the book.
I'm gonna let you know up front If I Was Your Girl needs a Trigger Warning for Suicide. The characters are developed just enough to make them believable. While I feel like we could have gotten to know some of them a little better, there was enough given for the characters to feel like real individuals and have the interactions be believable. The world of the book is built up enough that it was easy to see myself in it. It was really easy for me to drop myself into the settings Amanda found herself in. The story itself is brilliant and I was unable to put it down, leading to accidentally staying up until 2:30 am. I absolutely that the story is split between the present and the past because it gave me a great view of who Amanda I couldn't have gotten just from her present timeline. I'm cisgendered so I haven't been on the journey Amanda embarks on through the story. Meredith Russo has been on that journey that, which is why Amanda's story rings with so much honesty and authenticity. Is this the story of every trans person? No. But it is a beautiful story of one trans girl and the journey she embarks on to become and accept herself. I absolutely love this book and I look forward to reading more of Meredith Russo's work. For this review and more, please visit my blog at vicariousbookworm.wordpress.com
Amazing story about the difficult journey of being different
This is such an important book. When I first heard about this book, I immediately wanted to read it. I’ve been looking for books that are innovative, smart, and diverse, and IF I WAS YOUR GIRL is a perfect collection of all three. I liked the main character Amanda, and even in the parts where the story did drag a bit, I kept reading because I wanted to know what happened to her and where her story led. The other characters were a bit flat, but one of the highlights of this novel was the relationship that Amanda and her dad came to have. Really glad I picked this one up! (less)
As I was reading this novel, I kept thinking, what in the hell are you doing Amanda? I really thought she was overly confident and risky. I know she was finally becoming who she wanted to be but the pace at which was arriving at it with, was scaring the pants off me! Amanda was a new student, living in new surroundings, living with a father whom she really didn’t know, wearing a new identity and acting so carefree and flirty, I just about died. She had lived her whole life as Andrew and now after surgery and taking her medication, Andrew was now Amanda. With fire and gusto, she rushed into a romance for which I kept shaking my head. She found a friend named Bee, who was exciting and carefree. I could go on about Bee but I think Amanda put too much into Bee. I was glad that Amanda found other friends besides Bee and I only wished that she would have trusted these friends as much as she trusted Bee. Amanda realizes the reaction that she will receive when others find out the truth about her past which is why, she feels she must keep her past a secret. This secret can only be hidden for so long and what will become of her then? I liked how the author told the whole story of Andrew and Amanda. With randomly inserted chapters, we were flashed back to when Amanda was Andrew, before he had the surgery. It told of the conflict that the family wrestled with over the years and of Andrew’s feelings as he coped with being a male. The emotions of the parents felt realistic and genuine. It made this novel more realistic to feel everyone’s’ side of the story. Everyone has secrets and I wondered as I read along, just who would share their secrets with Amanda as she got more familiar with her new surroundings. Why do we feel that we need to share everything with the world to be accepted? What secrets should we keep from others and which ones do we need to share? At what point, do you open yourself up to others for their acceptance? I still believe she should have been taking things slower and being more cautious to her surroundings and then perhaps things might have transpired differently. I really enjoyed this novel. It is a novel that is more than just about gender issues.
What an amazingly honest story
This is the first book I have ever read about a transsexual. I’ve never really known one in real life, which isn’t surprising in my small town. But this book definitely showed me some of their world. A course one author can’t get it all in there, everyone’s story is different. But the author too is a transsexual and based the book off of her life experiences and that definitely helped give the characters skin. But let me tell you this book is beautiful! It destroyed me at some parts but the ending was perfect. I finished this in one night because Amanda is precious and I had to see her through! This book is a must read! I suggest it for everyone!
Amanda Hardy is new to Lambertville, Tennessee and nervous about starting at a new school for her senior year. She isn't sure what to expect when she moves in with her father who she hasn't seen in a few years. She isn't sure if this town will be any kinder to her than the hometown she had to leave. All she wants to do is blend in and avoid getting too close to anyone. She's used to being an outsider so it should be simple. Grant Everett sorely tests Amanda's resolve. He is funny, kind, and no one Amanda ever thought she could be with. Getting closer to Grant makes Amanda feel safe and known. So much so that shea wonders if it might be time to let Grant see all of her--including the secrets from her past. But she has no idea if Grant will be able to see her as the girl he's gotten to know when he finds out that Amanda used to be Andrew in If I Was Your Girl (2016) by Meredith Russo. If I Was Your Girl is Russo's first novel. It's also important to mention that she is a transgender woman. An author's note at the back of the book addresses some of her creative choices and provides further resources and support for trans teens. This book is a really powerful and important story. Amanda is an empathetic heroine with a narrative voice that is immediately engaging and approachable. More importantly, this is not an issue-driven book. Instead, If I Was Your Girl is a sweet, introspective, and romantic story about a girl who happens to be transgender. Everyone in If I Was Your Girl has a secret whether it's something they're hiding for their own protection or just because they're embarrassed. These secrets include sexual orientation and a character who is hiding his mother's health problems and his family's low income status. The way these secrets unfold and play out in the narrative add another dimension to the story as Amanda and her friends learn about what it means--and what it can cost--to reveal your deepest truths to someone new. Parts of the plot meander and even drag. Amanda's adjustment to her new school is contrasted throughout the novel with flashbacks to her distant and recent past including moments when she was bullied, her decision to transition, and a heart-wrenching suicide attempt. Russo presents Amanda's story with tenderness and care. In addition to featuring a strong, transgender girl at its heart, this story also surrounds Amanda with support. Her life still isn't easy--there are obstacles and hateful, scary moments. But throughout the story, Amanda also has her mother cheering her on and begins to rebuild her relationship with her estranged father. She finds friends who trust and accept her and a boy who cares deeply about her. If I Was Your Girl is a hopeful and uplifting story where Amanda works to become the person she's always wanted to be. Possible Pairings: Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg, Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu, The Truth Commission by Susan Juby, How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras, In Real Life by Jessica Love, Dumplin' by Julie Murphy, This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Okay bear with me, because this review is going to be intense. It’ll include a lot of gushing praise, some of the heartache I experienced, and so much more…without being spoilery of course. This book is definitely 5 out of 5 stars in my book. I read this book for #ReadProud, even though it’s been on my TBR list for quite a while now. I’m so glad I finally read it. Because of the summary, you already know some of the backstory of Amanda’s life. But knowing that backstory still didn’t prepare me for the roller coaster of emotions that were contained in the 288 pages of If I Was Your Girl. I thought Meredith did such a great job with the subject matter at hand. My heart went out to the main character, Amanda, so many times. As a straight female, I know I don’t know what it’s like to be trans, but seeing life through Amanda’s eyes was eye-opening. I’d like to think I’m pretty open-minded and accepting, especially after seeing the reactions of some people in this book. I say be who you are, be with whoever makes you happy, etc. because life’s too short. Amanda was a fantastic main character. I liked that Meredith had some passages scattered throughout the book that showed us Amanda’s past, showed us what she had to endure and deal with. It made me get attached to her character even more. Grant was a pretty good guy overall, but he’s not an addition to my book boyfriend for a few reasons. One is that I just wasn’t attracted to his character. He sounded cute, but I didn’t feel myself falling for his character. The other reasons I don’t want to share, because they’re spoilers. I thought the female friendship in this book was one of the highlights. Layla, Anna, and Chloe were amazing, especially towards the very end of the book. Amanda is lucky to have friends like them. Bee was okay, until she wasn’t, but I understand she served a purpose in the book. I really liked that Amanda got to feel like ‘one of the girls’ when she lived in Lambertville. It made my heart happy for most of the book. The ‘past’ sections were pretty emotional overall. They really tugged at my heartstring, for lack of better words. Some were happy, but mostly they were showing the emotional, and physical, abuse Amanda endured. My heart ached that people could treat other people like that, like they were nothing. Society is so wrong at times that it’s enough to make me scream. The book ends on a slightly happier note, especially since Amanda always has her friends no matter what, and she has her whole life ahead of her to see what happens next. Final note: I’m glad I read this book for the #ReadProud challenge this month. Such a great debut! I’d highly recommend it! I need to buy a copy for myself to own so I can keep experiencing the feels over and over again!