And then she meets Grant Everett. Grant is unlike anyone she’s ever met—open, honest, kind—and Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself…including her past. But she’s terrified that once she tells Grant the truth, he won't be able to see past it. Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew.
Review: After being beaten up in a mall bathroom, Amanda goes to live with her estranged father in Lambertville, Tennessee, where no one knows her from her pre-transition life. I loved Amanda's voice and liked her right away. She is incredibly brave for being open and honest of who she is despite all of the obstacles that she faces. The story consists of Amanda's previous life, during, post-suicide attempt, and transition which are interspersed with her current life throughout the story. I learned many things about the transitional experience that I didn't know about before reading this book. The push of wanting to be open and experiencing life with unexpected friendships with people from various backgrounds and sexual orientations and even possibly starting a romance of her own and the pull of her own fear of her secret and her father's constant admonitions to fly under the radar is real, authentic, and a familiar story for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.
What I really liked about this book is that it is not overwrought with unnecessary drama, sentimental nor heavy handed. The initial romance between Amanda and Grant is sweet, but things are in flux once Grant finds out about Amanda's past. Like Amanda, Grant is also keeping secrets regarding his family. It is nice to see that both of these characters balance each other out.
An author's note at the end of the book reveals that the author herself is transgendered and has admitted that there are instances that she took liberty in telling Amanda's story. For instance, Amanda is blessed to physically, seamlessly blend and the price of very expensive drugs did not seem to be a financial issue with her family. Some readers may have issues with these unrealistic portions of the book, but I see it as giving hope that things will get better for transgendered teens. I also appreciated that the book does not end in a happily ever or wrap up in a bow, especially when her romantic relationship is concerned, but rather Amanda is willing to educate those around her on what it means to be transgendered. If I Was Your Girl is a much needed, timely book in YA.
Rating: 4 stars
Words of Caution: There is some language including homophobic slurs, underage drinking and drug usage, scene of attempted sexual assault, and scenes of heavy making out with some mention of nudity. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.
If you like this book try: Rethinking Normal by Katie Rain Hill, Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher