Author Meredith Russo
This is the spoiler free review of If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo. If you would like to read the spoiler full review and summary please visit here.
If I Was Your Girl is a simple YA story about a young girl who moves to a new school and faces all the traditional perils of high school. She needs to make new friends, figure out who she can trust, figure out who she is and wants to be, and figure out how to date a teenage boy when her dad doesn’t fully approve.
The only difference between Amanda and any of the other girls at her new school is that Amanda was born Andrew. As the author put it in her note at the end of the book, Amanda is just an ordinary girl who happens to have a different medical history. Unfortunately, that is not the view that most people in a small town in the southern US would take if they were to discover her secret.
Amanda knows that in order to stay safe she needs to keep her secret. She wants to just live her life as the girl she’s always felt she’s been. She struggles with whether or not she should ever disclose her history to her new friends and what that means for her identity as a whole, to be a secret many would consider shameful.
The basic plot of this young adult novel is simple and predictable. The entire book I knew exactly what was going to happen and it fell pretty much in line the whole way. But while that is usually a negative this book uses tropes and cliches for a much grander purpose.
Since we can see Amanda as any high school girl in any high school romance coming of age story we can see Amanda as just that, any girl. The book’s largest success is that it makes the protagonist approachable, sympathetic, and likable without ever shying away from the fact that she is trans.
If I Was Your Girl is not going to wow you with an unpredictable story line or ground breaking style but it will give you a trans character to relate to. It’s a wonderful introduction into LGBTQ literature and would be a great place to start for people who may not have many LGBTQ connections in their own lives. For people like the ones in this story, who have never met anyone unlike them, this tale is an easy pill to swallow.
It’s also incredibly optimistic and definitely has the best case scenario ending but I think that works for the purpose of this book. It shows that even the most ignorant or previously prejudiced people can find a tiny shred of compassion. A window just big enough to let some willingness to attempt understanding through.
Russo is never preachy, she never tries to shove new ideals down your throat, and she never directly references any real controversies. She just lays out a solid story about a young girl dealing with a difficult community she doesn’t quite fit in with. It’s engaging and uplifting.
I would definitely recommend this as a place to start with LGBTQ books and just for anyone who likes YA romances. Reading it I realized that I’ve read an appallingly low number of these books myself and should really start seeking out more LGBTQIA etc characters to read about. Exposure goes a long way toward understanding. And even for myself, a bisexual woman who has known several trans individuals personally, I still feel underexposed to their experiences.
This book has literally been sitting on my kindle for years and I’m disappointed that it took me this long to get to it, don’t let the same thing happen to you!
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4/5 girls 👧👧👧👧
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Buy it here: If I Was Your Girl