“I deserved to live. I deserved to find love. I knew – I believed now – that I deserved to be loved.”
Amanda Hardy is the new girl at school. Like everyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is holding back. Even from Grant, the guy she’s falling in love with. Amanda has a secret. At her old school, she used to be called Andrew. And secrets always have a way of getting out…
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book so raw. A story so unapologetically painful yet romantic. Amanda is a transgender teen trying to navigate a new school; as her peers begin to see her as the beautiful and fascinating new girl, she is forced to decide what she’s willing to sacrifice to keep her past a secret.
This is largely a story of acceptance. Within friendships, family and relationships Amanda is desperate to be able to just live a normal life without fear or judgement from those around her. Meredith Russo has created a group of unpredictable and complex characters that accurately depict the dynamic of school life, making the story feel real.
In spite of all of this in many ways it felt as if the story was given the ending the author wanted; the ending that should be commonplace in our society but sadly isn’t. Meredith Russo addresses this in her letter to cis gendered readers at the end of the book she says, “I am worried that you might take Amanda’s story as gospel” and “I have, in some ways, cleaved to stereotypes and even bent rules to make Amanda’s trans-ness as unchallenging to normative assumptions as possible.” Although I understood why she did these things to a certain extent I wish she hadn’t, I would have loved to see Amanda challenge the image many cis gendered people (including myself) have formed of the trans community and hopefully reform some peoples perspectives.
All in all I think this book was wonderful, it found a balance between light hearted and heart breaking that is difficult to get right. It was refreshing to read a book about the trans community from somebody actually in the trans community, it made the story more powerful, more real. It was in many ways a love story but also an eye opening experience. If you’re looking for a book that will change your view on things and drag you in to a beautiful love story between friends, family and romantic partners then I encourage you to pick up a copy of If I Was Your Girl. I promise you won’t be disappointed.