Note: I am a cis girl reviewing a book written by a trans author about a trans protagonist, so please take note of this before proceeding. If you’d like to read a review from the perspective of a trans person, here is a great place to start. Thank you!
Title: If I Was Your Girl
Author: Meredith Russo
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Narrator: Samia Mounts
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository
Goodreads summary: 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?
If I Was Your Girl is a universal story about feeling different—and a love story that everyone will root for.
An important coming-of-age story with an excellent narrator
We’ve all, at some point, read coming-of-age stories. I’m a sucker for them, so I came in knowing that I was going to like this book.
And If I Was Your Girl was a book that I really enjoyed. Amanda is the kind of character that I end up rooting for and throughout the book I just wanted to hug her and protect her from ALL the bad things. She’s a complicated mix of shy, strong, proud, insecure, scared and brave, all wrapped in a box of oblivious adorable-ness. She was one of the highlights of the book for me!
I also loved her friends, how they have their own tiny backstories and secrets and how they all are navigating their small-town high school and small-town politics. Grant is such a great love interest too; I especially love how he was so understanding and attentive to her.
But most of all, I love how this book is a hopeful one. I love how Amanda evolves into a brave person who loves everything about herself and who knows she deserves all the good things in life. I love how she is happy and that there’s hope in her and Grant’s relationship. Honestly, I’m a bit tired of reading books where the LGBTQIAP+ person dies or ends up alone. That’s why this book is important: it tells the story of how people like Amanda can get their happy endings too, and that they deserve every minute and second of it.
Samia Mounts is an excellent narrator. I love her little southern twang when she narrates! She emotes in all the right parts and got me teary-eyed oftentimes with the feeling in her narration. I can feel Amanda’s pain or fear or happiness in her voice and yes, she was basically perfect for Amanda.
Author’s note regarding the story
I’m cis so it’s not my place to say anything about the trans representation in this book, but I will share what the author said regarding the story. She said that she deliberately made it as easy as possible for Amanda to transition. Amanda liked boys all her life, has feminine features, was able to get medical assistance by legal means, etc. Amanda’s experience, furthermore, is not like Meredith Russo’s experience, and different trans people have different experiences to varying degrees of difficulty, so we should not take her book as the be-all-end-all of trans experiences.
In conclusion: a story that needs to be heard by all
If I Was Your Girl is an eye-opening story about the struggles that trans teens go through. It talks about suicide, bullying, and finding the strength to be who you are in a world that doesn’t understand you. Most of all, it helps other people understand transsexuals more and be more open-minded and considerate about them. I would recommend this book to everyone ever.
My Rating: (4 / 5)
Have you read If I Was Your Girl? What did you think of it? Do you have any book recommendations with a trans MC? Let me know your thoughts and recs in the comments below!