Amanda Hardy is new to Lambertville, Tennessee. Determined to have a fresh start for her senior year, she wants to make friends and fit in. But she’s harboring a secret and a past that threaten to disrupt her new life, and she’s determined to keep her secret safe so that she can remain safe. But she doesn’t bank on meeting Grant Everett, and she doesn’t plan on falling in love with him. Grant seems different, and the two have an undeniable connection. She wants to share everything with him, but she’s not sure she can share the one thing she wants most to tell him: she used to be Andrew Hardy.
Hailed as one of the best YA books of 2016, Meredith Russo’s debut novel about a trans girl trying to make a new life for herself after a brutal attack has earned its extensive praise. This novel offers trans teens and adults a story that is at once sweetly romantic while also very believable, grounded in enough realism without ever veering into the horrifically tragic. The novel offers enough friction in the plot to offer readers insight into the real dangers that Amanda faces as a girl without ever overwhelming the narrative. There’s good writing here, although at times the dialogue feels a bit clunky, and the exploration of new friendships helps flesh out the narrative beyond the typical romance.
The plot moves quickly, the characters are engaging and interesting, and this is a necessary novel for all readers. It’s one to stock your shelves with and push into the hands of teens. There’s lots to discuss here as well, and it’s going to garner those discussions. Highly recommended.
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo. Flatiron Books: 2016. Library copy.