If I Was Your Girl

If I Was Your Girl
Meredith Russo, 2016

Premise: Amanda is starting a new school year in a new town. She can't live with her mom safely anymore, not around kids who knew her before. She only hopes that she'll be able to get through high school without her new friends finding out her secret.

This novel got a lot of love last year, and it deserves it. Amanda's story is both a touching, puppy-love, YA romance and a story of depression, attempted self-harm and assault, as well as about the love of both family and found family.

It's compelling and an easy read. I think I flew through it in under a day. Amanda's pain and paranoia, followed by hope and tentative trust only to have the rug cruelly pulled out from under her -- it's easy to be swept up in this tale.

The supporting characters are a wide range of small-town types, very few of whom are who they first appear to be. Everyone has secrets, but not everyone is in danger when their secrets are told.

One of the most important parts of the book, though, is after the end of the story. The author's note is important here, asking us to empathize, but not extrapolate.

In the words of a wise woman I know - When you've met one trans person, you've met one trans person. Amanda's situation is her own, and the author describes the choices she made in telling the story so that her main character would be the most sympathetic to the most readers. She cautions readers not to assume that everyone's story is the same.

Much like the situation for the characters in the story, reading the book is the start of a journey of understanding, not the end.

4 Stars - A Very Good Book


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