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If I Was Your Girl: 02/04/17
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo is one of the best YA romances I've read. Full stop. Amanda Hardy is the new girl in Lambertville, come home to live with her father. She's planning to just get through her last couple years of high school, flying under the radar as bast as she can. And then she meets Grant Everett and all those plans go out the window.
Amanda has a past, one she's not sure she's ready to share with her new friends. Frankly she's not willing at first to share that past with us either. But slowly over time, through flashbacks, we're given the full story.
The big picture, though, is that Amanda is transgender. This is her first time going to school with her chosen name and her chosen pronouns. Even her father, though not as enthusiastic as she would like, is on board.
In the case of Grant, who has his own secrets, there is still the fear of revealing too much. There is the fear of teasing, the fear of being beaten up — all this Amanda has experienced. She has also tried to take her own life.
While all those things are common plot points in all the other books with a transgender protagonist I've read, they aren't really the point here. Instead, it's about the after — about the moving on. So many of these books end at the point that the main character gets on the preverbal soapbox and announces to the world that they are transgender.
All of that has happened and is over and done with. Amanda is out. Amanda is Amanda. She's now on the threshold of adulthood and a life she's going to carve out for herself on her terms.
Learning how to be open with her closest of friends (and boyfriend) is the next big hurdle. It's frankly a hurdle that all adults face repeatedly. It's a hurdle that Grant is also facing. And this book is about how they both learn to trust each other and open up — rather than about a character being trapped in one gender/body and wanting another.
There's an afterword from the author about why she chose to write this story as a post transition YA. The author explains: "I did this because I wanted you to have no possible barrier to understanding Amanda as a teenage girl with a different medical history from most other girls." Amanda, she goes on to explain isn't meant to stand in a gospel for how to be transgender. There are many different ways of being transgender and every experience is valid and important.
As suicide is mentioned in the book, she also includes a couple different hotline numbers for any reader who needs someone to talk to.