Katiebabs is a self-proclaimed present day bluestocking with her head always in a book. She runs her own book blog called Babbling about Books and More!
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo was a very hard to read because the pages would constantly blur from my unshed tears. My tears were of sadness, as well as joy for Amanda, a seventeen-year-old girl who goes to live with her divorced father in order to start at a new high school as a senior. Her father doesn’t understand Amanda, and Amanda feels responsible for her parents’ divorce. Amanda has been bullied her entire life, filled with confusion and fear to the point she tried to kill herself. The reason is because Amanda was once Andrew. She was born a boy but always felt she was a girl stuck in a boy’s body.
The beauty of If I Was Your Girl, is that Amanda has hope even after all the horrible things that happen to her. She’s a survivor, and may seem to be a victim (but she isn’t) who deserves to be happy and loved. She does find love, first with her mother who has always supported her. When Amanda, still as Andrew asks why her mother cares that Amanda wasn’t successful in her suicide attempt, her mother responds she wants her son alive not dead, even if it means her son will transform into a female because that’s what she is inside. Amanda’s father is well written also because we see his rage at first to witness his son at a young age wanting to be a girl. We see her father’s initial rejection of both Amanda and his mother. He runs away because he can’t face or understand why his boy wants to be a girl. His father then holds out a hand finally, wanting Amanda to live with him. Amanda takes this chance, knowing if anyone in her new town or school finds out that she used to be Andrew, she could be bullied, ostracized or worse.
Amanda makes friends right away, including catching the eye of Grant, a super sweet guy who’s smitten with Amanda the moment he sees her. Grant may be too good to be true, but you don’t care because you want Amanda to be happy and experience falling in love for the first time. Amanda soon has a group of friends with all different personalities and traits. Amanda also realizes that everyone has secrets and hidden shame. There’s the bisexual school druggie outcast Amanda befriends who ‘s having a secret affair with another one of Amanda’s friends who comes from a very conservative Christian family. Grant also has secrets about his family he feels he must hide from his peers. Amanda, as the audience knows, has her secrets. But unlike Grant and her new friends who are willing to show them to Amanda, at what cost is Amanda willing to share hers?
Flashbacks of Amanda’s former like as Andrew are shown, and hit you in the gut, specifically when Amanda was still Andrew as a little boy, trying to impressed his Dad who wants him to be in sports and stick up to the bullying. I especially grew weepy over the beautiful relationship Amanda has with her mother. We see Amanda embrace her true self both inside and out, complete with her transformation like a caterpillar who becomes a butterfly.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had such an emotional, visceral response to a book like If I Was Your Girl. We need more books like this, especially in the Young Adult genre, and for readers who are like Amanda. If I Was Your Girl is the must read book of 2016, and will most likely be my favorite book of this year.
Powerful, gut wrenching and just so wonderful with everything in between. If there is one book you read this year, it must be If I Was Your Girl.
READ THIS BOOK!