If I Was Your Girl

By Meredith Russo

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Total feedbacks: 159
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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Amazing, absolutely amazing. This book shows just how hard it can be to grow up trans while living in the south. I could not put it down and I highly recommend this book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Good read and educational
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tamra king
This book was beautiful and heartbreaking. Amanda and her story are lovely.
Dreadnought: Nemesis - Book One :: The Vampire Gift 7: Prophecies of Light :: Queen Takes Knights (Their Vampire Queen Book 1) :: The Vampire Gift 2: Kingdom of Ash :: Passings of More than 125 American Movie and TV Idols
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rita wright
Absolutely beautiful!!! I read this in one day and fell in love. Highly recommend this book. I look forward to more from this author.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mollie marti
Had I known just how good this book is, I wouldn't have kept it waiting for so long!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Love it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The book is five solid stars. The author's note? Takes it right to 11. This is a must-read for every cisgender person out there and if you don't know what cisgender means? It's you.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
inez r
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I absolutely love this book. I've read it several times. It's very heartwarming and empowering and you can't help but love and support Amanda's grows and accepts herself.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
julia logue
This novel was very well written and deserved each star I gave. Amanda's story was so powerful and intense and simply wonderful. Everyone should read this.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The book gives a good opening int the fears and some of the issues that a member of the Trans community faces. Sweet and an easy read
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
andrew sheivachman
It was nice to read a book from the trans point of view it really hits all the feels. Great read!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I like it when books give you a new perspective. This book pushes an understanding that everyone's journey isn't quite like this one, while identifying Amanda's struggles as real ones, that real people experience everyday. Just a little acceptance and love can go a long way for someone.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
d today
Great first book by Meredith Russo!! I absolutely loved the story and cannot wait to see what is next from her!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mandy laferriere
An emotional journey from start to finish. Manages to be accessible to cis readers without sounding like a trans 101 guidebook. I do kinda want to clobber Bee...
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lily bond
Couldn’t put it down!! Beautifully written, and a great read. Highly recommended!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
andrew gustafson
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lorenzo berardi
Great book
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ann lee
My daughter who is 15 loved this book highly recommended
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
christina ramsey
Beautiful, couldn't put it down.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
adam m
Look, my rating isn't a huge deal here, because I believe that this is still an extremely important book for everyone to read. My issues came with some of the dialect and some of the important characters. Regardless of what I think, this book provides essential information for cisgender people, and it will hopefully make transgender people very proud of this representation. Amanda is a fascinating main character who is totally nerdy and awesome. Did I find parts of these unrealistic? Yes, though the author is a trans woman herself, she touched on this in her author's note. She said that she's a storyteller and not an educator, and she's taken liberties with what she knows reality to be. That being said, I think this is a fabulous book that will hopefully make way for more transgender stories in the future.

Amanda is moving in with her father for her senior year after an incident that happened back in Atlanta. Her mom and dad are divorced, and she hasn't talked to her father in years. She quickly meets new friends and even discovers that several boys have a crush on her. She begins talking to Grant, a football player who also has a sweet awkward and nerdy side as well. Soon enough, the relationship between them grows pretty serious and Amanda has to decide whether or not she should tell him her secret. Told with some flashbacks sprinkled throughout the story, we learn more about Amanda's past when she was born a boy, but knew in her heart from a fairly early age that she was really a girl.

As I already mentioned, Amanda is a little bit nerdy. She's a super smart and witty girl, I loved her personality. She also allows for us to relate to some of the experiences that we all share, like fitting in, finding love, and accepting yourself for who you are. This is something that both transgender and cisgender people can both sympathize with. While I feel like Amanda was tremendously lucky to find a group of friends on day one at her new school, obviously it's not so easy for everyone else. However, I genuinely liked that Amanda didn't have a completely depressing experience, yes there were a few intense scenes, but it was a pretty great experience for the most part. As a reader, I like seeing the main character happy, even if it isn't the most realistic portrayal.

You should read this book because it shows that transgender teens are just as capable of love and acceptance as anyone else. There are hardly any books out there that portray this. That being said, I think that If I Was Your Girl will hopefully pave the way for other mainstream publishing houses to release stories about transgender teens in the very near future. I'm also really glad that the author is a trans woman and the cover model is a trans teen. Anyway, this is one of those books that you need to read because it's that important!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
abdullah almusned
Being about a transgender male to female character I had expected a little more insight in to the difficulties the whole process entailed. It spoke some about the ridicule teenagers can give each other for being transgender but not a lot about the actual entire process. I guess I was expecting something more detailed like the series "Transparent".
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
amanda lee
Such a phenomenal story! Very well written! It was almost as if the author had experienced it herself! In my opinion it's a must read!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lex huckabay
Loved the characters.
Well written. The author really brought you into the story and it came a!! Sorts of feels.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I loved this book i purchased as a donation for the middle school my daughter was attending!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
loretta davis
I loved Amanda's story. A heartwarming, heartbreaking journey. You will not be disappointed you read this gem of a story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book manages to be dignified, forthright, enlightening and approachable. This book is a well written story of a boy struggling with gender identity issues and his struggles in a hostile world to become Amanda.
It helped me to better understand some of the transgender struggles. The story was engaging and compelling.
As is true of the best literature, this book shines brightest when it shows how all of mankind struggles in some way and that the courage we bring to the struggle gives hope in a sometimes dark world.
I hope this author will continue to write, bravo!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ahmed wagih
My best friend recently came out as transgender and I love him with all of my heart. Amanda's story truly moves me to continue helping and understanding him more and more each day.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
richard pierce
Amazing! Beautifully written! I connected so well with Amanda. I cried and laughed along with her. As a transgendered woman I gi
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I enjoyed the story and it kept flowing very well. I suspect that it must be a difficult thing even initially to have confidence going out with a guy knowing how initially you were born. Then the difficulty knowing when and how to divulge. I don't know if this is a common scenerio as happened in this book but the experience has got to be at times awful-foe both sides.
So, again, I enjoyed the story, but I did have difficulty trying to decipher who was speaking at times, especially when more than one person was speaking in a paragraph, but I had difficulty in other cases too.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
andy dowling
Best book I've read in a while
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rae ann
It was very good to see a quality representation of transgender people. I really can't recommend this book enough.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
amanda butler
Best first romance book I ever read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kelly sedinger
This was a great book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ana dias
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
natalie alve
I enjoyed this book. Gave me more insight into the world of the transgendered, what they go through and the suffering they endure. I fell in love with Amanda, and never once saw her as a "boy" but rather as a sweet, lovely teenage girl, going through typical as well as atypical teenage angst. As a heterosexual woman, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in this topic.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
angie anderson
Loved it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jen stowell
Crucial insight into a world few of us know much about.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sandy frank
Brilliantly written.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jean israel
It was an interesting read, but I got the feeling that it was a fairy tale about how a trans boy-to-girl would like life to be , rather than a realistic story. Teenage trans-girls don't have problems with their boobs being too big for gym class, and a teen boy of his age and family position would never be able to get full hormones and surgery to complete a transition at age 15-16. Things were just too perfect, in spite of the intentional conflict that seemed to have been inserted when someone told the author "you need to have conflict, everything cannot be rosy." That said, it was well-written and interesting.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
michele nava
This would be great to educate those who know nothing or those who think they know. Its a true story so that helps. Good for high school readers.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
I started off really liking this book. The YA angst of "Does he or doesn't he like me" was offset by "what will happen when he finds out Amanda's secret?" Then I stopped believing in the characters. Where are teens this nice? has the author spent time with any of today's teens? if you take away Amanda's secret, there is no real plot or interesting characters and that is a shame. Amanda's secret shouldn't be the gimmick to make people read this book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
sara gregory
I'm a cis woman, so I don't have a point of understanding for this book. It's definitely a bit of a fantasy with a bit of realism thrown in. I'm glad I read it, I feel like I have a bit more insight into a transgender person's mind, but some of the situations seemed too perfect.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
camila senkiv
Fantastic, eye opening read! Fast paced and a great character you wanted to root for. I highly recommend this diverse book
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
andrea bartlett
This story was very sweet. At times, it felt a little scattered. Never hard to follow, but there were a few scenes I found myself trying to find the relevance of. But Amanda was such a lovely character, and her journey was so important and good to read about. Stories like this are what need to be told. I'd love to read more from Virginia's perspective too, since Amanda was lucky enough re: "passing." But Amanda was a brilliant protagonist, and I was in love with her every step of the way. I would have liked to see Layla, Anna, Chloe, and even Bee, fleshed out a little more. But this was Amanda's story and it was told beautifully and artfully. Both of her parents were such unique, interesting characters with their own ways of dealing with the situation, but that never overshadowed Amanda. And what's important in these stories isn't how it affects the parents, it's how it affects the people living with it.

The writing was a little on-the-nose at times. The prose was solid but not beautiful, and I would have preferred if the accents had been described rather than shown in the dialogue. But overall, this was a great read, and the message is so rare and important in this genre, or even in books in general - that it would be a shame for anyone to pass up the opportunity to read this.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
jessica harby
I think this book was well intended, but I don't think it really helps anyone....."If I was your girl" has a nice catchy title, though grammatically incorrect, and the young woman on the cover is attractive and somehow appropriate. It is the story of a young woman, probably around 18, who has moved to a new community following a sex change operation, entering the local high school to finish her last year. But throughout the telling, it felt to this reader like a PG version of a very complex, painful and difficult process, most of which we learn very little about. Of course there is the mention of bullying in the early years, kicks, bruises, etc but even those incidents were given short shrift. So this is a bit of a fairy tale, complete with a happy ending of sorts. Some pain of course but my guess is it's a small fraction of what transgender youth in real life must deal with over years and years. I didn't think the book had any major plot revelations nor surprises, nor ahha moments. It's "safe" for a young person to read, no graphic sex, no detailed anatomy lessons. But not much learning either.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
mary butler
Loved the idea and topic of this book;however, it was packaged too perfectly. I would have liked to see more round characters. The dialect drove me crazy as well. I would still recommend.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
samantha isasi
Perfect Condition
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
pat macdonald
The YA genre is becoming more and more interesting as important new voices begin to deal with previously-avoided issues of sexuality and gender identity. Meredith Russo’s “If I Was Your Girl” is the first non-memoir I’ve encountered that deals with the scary world of male-to-female transition at the high school level.

Russo is very clear in her author’s note that she has carefully chosen her situation to make her character Amanda’s “trans-ness as unchallenging to normative assumptions as possible.” Andrew/Amanda self-identified as female from her earliest recollection. However, her father was unable to see anything but the “sissy boy”, and reacted with a stereotypical determination to “toughen him up”. It didn’t work, of course, and the inevitable result was conflict, not only with the child but with his wife as well, who while not as clueless as her husband, actually didn’t have the ability to deal with the issues either.

As the story begins, post-transition Amanda has been beaten up by the parent of one of her schoolmates in suburban Atlanta, where she and her mother have moved after the divorce. The only “safe” option seems to be for her to go live with her dad in “Lambertville”, a small town near Knoxville, TN. Her dad, who didn’t know how to cope with her pre-teen male persona, is even more at sea when it comes to dealing with her as a late teenage daughter, but he tries.

It is Amanda’s blessing to become part of a group of girls at her new high school who sincerely befriend her. Although on the surface they are a “mixed bag”, Layla, Chloe and Anna turn out to be true blue. When Amanda is outed in a very vicious way, they are the ones who stand by her and even rescue her during another assault. Russo doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and the novel doesn’t exactly end with “happily-ever-after”. However it is clear that Amanda does indeed have a hopeful future due to the support and understanding of these friends; the evolution in her parents’ perspective to the extent that even her dad is learning to lighten up and replace control with support; and a boyfriend, Grant, who also has a quality of loyalty and fairness.

Stylistically, I wish the narrative was not quite so heavy on “southern vernacular”, but this is the author’s authentic voice and is certainly valid for the locale and characters. The real antagonist in the story, Bee, is anachronistic in the setting, but her inclusion adds a thread of intensity that I believe is valuable to the narrative. I really liked this book.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
carmen arias
Boring, but I guess it's well written
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
marina romano
If I Was Your Girl had so much promise. I've been looking for an LGBTQIA book that really showed the experience that many transgender people go through, and I found IIWYG to be a bit shallow.

The author's note in the beginning shares that there's a lot of the transgender experience that she has made simpler, that she has made, almost, easier in order for the book to be more palatable for cisgender readers and others who might not be as open to people from different orientations or identities.

I get why she wanted to do that, but I'm not sure that I agree with how it affected her overall story. For me, as an adult reader, it came off as a story that had great potential but missed the depth that could have made it amazing.

If I Was Your Girl introduces Amanda, a girl who used to be known as Andrew before she was able to acknowledge her true self and start fighting for the life that she was meant to live. The story picks up after Amanda is sent, for her safety, to live with her estranged father.

Amanda's journey is about being who you are despite others' objections, about learning to be unashamed of the life that you deserve to live, about finding a place where you can be accepted. If I Was Your Girl is about a transgender girl, yes, but the core of Amanda's journey is something that young adult readers can relate to. In Amanda, they can find someone to resonate with, cisgender or otherwise.

That, I think, is the power in Russo's story- that she's created an important story. She's created a story that needs to be told, that needs to be shared with readers who would otherwise never know an "Amanda".

Literature has the power to let someone travel to new worlds, to experience danger and magic from behind the safety of a printed page, but it also has the power to broaden the ordinary person's perspective of the world and extraordinary people around them.

Do I think If I Was Your Girl was the best novel I've ever read? No. But I can undeniably say that it's an important story, and that alone is enough for it to be a must-read for young adults and beyond.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
craig cunningham
If I Was Your Girl is an important read that is poignant and contemporary. It isn’t a book that is light hearted, but it is raw and incredibly powerful. This coming out story brilliantly juxtaposes Amanda’s journey by revealing pieces of her past with her present struggles.

Amanda is an extremely strong person for having the courage to fight through what society tells her and embrace her true self. The amount of gendered language and the way it is ingrained into the fabric of our society is something we are socialized into from birth. Not only must Amanda wade through all of that, but she is forced to deal with the transphobia and violence associated with challenging the ideas of ‘normal’.

Putting it into perspective makes this book even more important to read, especially as today’s culture evolves. There is a lack of voices in this department and I am so glad that Russo’s debut novel is so fantastic. Because of the diversity and the storyline, this book is incredibly important to read and I highly recommend it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
linda margaret
This book has been on my TBR for such a long time, I thought that it was about time that I read it (or listened to it in this case).
I haven't had a lot of experience with the LGBT community when it comes to literature, and I was very looking forward to adding another book to my growing list.
In this book we follow Amanda. Who was born Andrew. She knew from a young age that she was Amanda and eventually her parents - mainly her mum - knew she was too.
This book goes through the struggles of a teenage girl who has a secret, and has gone through such turmoil in her life that she doesn't want to let herself trust anyone. Amanda moves to a new town to live with her dad after immense bullying due to who she is and determined to not let the truth out and to keep to herself, she finds herself with a group of friends and even a boyfriend and life is looking up.
Until one day, her secret is out. Will the boy she loves still want her now that he knows who she is?
I absolutely adored this book from start to finish! I really felt for Amanda the whole way through, she was punished by bullies for being who she was and no one accepted her. I was worried for her the whole time she was in her new school with her new life, worried that someone or something was going to ruin it for her. This book just put me through so many emotions, some of the time I couldn't keep up. 
The only thing I would like to know is how it turns out between Amanda and Grant..does he accept her after all or do they go their separate ways? The book ended before this and I would love to know. I would hope that he did accept her for who she is and they lived happily ever after..but I guess I will never know!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
3.5 stars

If I Was Your Girl is a debut young adult novel following teenager Amanda as she moves in with the dad she hasn’t seen in years to start at a new school. She leaves her mom and everything familiar behind to escape the bullying she’s experienced throughout her childhood. Amanda hopes that she can stay undercover at her new school, because she doesn’t want anyone to know her secret – that she is a transgender girl. I picked up this book because I wanted to read an Own Voices novel, written by a transgender woman. While I really enjoyed the story and think it is a good debut, it did fall a bit flat for me in some places.

First, I want to talk about the writing style, which is the most important aspect of any book for me. I found Russo’s writing to be very strong and well done. I always appreciate when an author can write in a realistic and age appropriate voice without sacrificing quality. However, I did notice that the pacing of the novel seemed a bit off in some places. For example, one of the early scenes in the book features Amanda eating at a diner with her father. They leave the dinner with “half-eaten” plates, but the plates were just set down with no break in the dialogue. These rushed scenes occur in a few places throughout the novel, and need to be flushed out more to create better pacing for the story.

Moreover, I really loved the relationships we see in this book. Amanda builds and grows familial relationships, friendships, and a romantic relationship, too. I especially enjoyed seeing Amanda’s father learning to accept her, and provide support for her when she needs it most. Of course, it is also nice to see strong female friendships in young adult literature, and I really liked the scenes where Amanda is hanging out with her new group of friends. There are lot of interesting dynamics within this group, including some juicy secrets, that were fun to see played out.

In fact, secrets play a very important role in this novel. The entire plot of If I Was Your Girl revolves around Amanda keeping it a secret that she is transgender. As a reader, I was essentially waiting for this secret to be revealed for the entirety of the book. While I did wish that wasn’t the main point of the story, it did make me think about all of the secrets we each have in life, whether big or small, and how disclosing them is not always a simple thing do to.

I want to close out my review with what I hope will be a sensitive and respectful discussion of Amanda’s gender identity. I am so glad that this book is about a trans girl, and I picked it up to learn more about what someone like Amanda goes through in life. I know I cannot properly critique the choices Russo made while writing this book, as I am cisgender, but I am a bit uncomfortable with how If I Was Your Girl represents the trans community. Russo writes in her Author’s Note that she is a storyteller, and not an educator. However, I do think this book would be much stronger if it did include more educational aspects. For instance, there are some aspects with the trans experience that a cis reader may not understand, such as the role of hormones and dilation in a trans woman’s life. While Russo does not need to go into detail about these things, it would be helpful if she quickly explained what they are to the audience.

Moreover, I also think it is a bit damaging to write Amanda as the “perfect” and stereotypical trans girl on purpose. I can understand that Russo is trying to introduce cis readers to a trans girl that passes easily and is, in a way, easier to relate to, but I also think that readers cannot learn from this book if we are provided with the stereotypes we already see in pop culture. I think it would be better to provide readers with a true representation of a trans woman, and not one based on our false stereotypes. Of course, I know that all of us, whether trans or not, are extremely different, and there is not one “true” representation. Nonetheless, I wish Russo provided us with a character who she felt represents a more genuine trans story, and not the story cis people want to read. In the same way, trans readers might feel as if their experience isn’t being represented because Amanda is written in a stereotypical manner.

All in all, I did enjoy If I Was Your Girl, and I think it is a good debut for Russo. The book would be much stronger if it was longer, as more detail could be added to the story. Nonetheless, I do recommend it as an LGBTQIA+ read, and I look forward to what Russo writes next.

*Review originally posted on Adventures in Polishland
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
marie baucum
This book about a transgender teen takes us to the uglier side of the issue. Lack of understanding is the least of it. Throw in beatings, harassment, physical attacks while authority figures look the other way and hostility from a parental figure and you understand why the main character once decided suicide was the best option.

Amanda’s life doesn’t get any easier when she becomes the female she always knew she was. Moving to a neighborhood where people don’t know she was Andrew means keeping secrets, telling lies or trusting the wrong people. The novel is a painful glimpse into one side of the transgender issue, filtered through the fictional lens of a female with hard decisions to make.

The novel shines but it’s a fierce glare with only a few softer bright spots. Graphic descriptions of what happens to Amanda’s body, mention of the pills and hormone shots needed to maintain her new shape are slid in subtly between mentions of the new life she must navigate among a handsome boy, a bible thumper and a bi-sexual drug smoker. It’s absorbing to read, even if you suspect that it’s not the entire story of what goes into shifting from one gender to another.

There are so many directions the author could have taken with this story and she settles on a happy, if cautionary, note. We know that Amanda will never have a simple life and she knows it as well. Her coming to terms with it and decided to stand up and take what is hers is humbling to read yet fills the reader with a sense of vindication.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I had heard about this book quite a bit, with mixed reviews.

I needed something to read for Around the Year in 52 Books’ “something from the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards” challenge, and I’d been meaning to read If I Was Your Girl anyway, so I decided to try it!

I’ve never read a book with a trans character.

At least, I don’t believe I have. Let me revise that.

I’ve never read a book with a transgender protagonist.

And it’s #ownvoices, too! Like many of you, I learn a lot through reading. It may not be something that has actually happened, but what is written in fictional books is no less genuine of a heartbreak, feeling, or just an interesting topic (whoa, grammar police!). I’ve not been against trans people in the past; I simply did not really understand them. This was a beautiful introduction into the world of someone who feels like they’re in the wrong body; someone who doesn’t feel as comfortable being “themselves” as you or I might.

Granted, it was not the most realistic portrayal ever.

I assumed it probably wasn’t the most realistic story ever. However, at the end of the book, the author wrote a note to the reader explaining why it wasn’t. And I SO appreciated that. It allowed me to enjoy (read: love) the story and its characters for all it was, and still not be misguided by a few of the portrayals.

Another thing that caught my eye…

The author also mentioned that just because he was interested in Amanda, a trans girl, did not make him any less straight or a man. I had briefly wondered about that sometime in the past, and I so appreciate her saying that. It makes sense, after all: if you’re dating someone who identifies as a woman (trans or not) and you are attracted to women, well, that fits right under your radar, now doesn’t it?

As for the romance itself!

I loved how it all played out, and everything that happened was so cute. Although at one point I was a bit confused and thought Amanda had come out, I think that was due to my own misreading, because when I looked back on it, it was more obvious.

Of course, it’s always nice to have some great friends.

Who are present. In the story. And accepting. Sometimes a good friendship actually warms my heart more than a romance ever could, because friends are the best, am I right?

Overall, this was just a wonderful story.

I could not put it down, and it was actually quite a short read! I got through it very quickly. I would definitely recommend this to someone who doesn’t read/know a lot about trans characters, as well as anyone else (of course) who would like to give this a shot! Originally posted on Every Book You Need to Read and More.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I’ve been looking forward to this book for awhile–it’s been on everyone’s lists since it released last year. I knew it would be my pick for the trans category for DiversityBingo2017 and I just kept not getting around to reading it! I’m here to tell you that if you’re like me and have it sitting on the back of your TBR…DO NOT WAIT ANYMORE. GO GET THAT BOOK AND READ IT NOW.

Sometimes a book gets hype solely for the topic alone–this is an Own Voices book written by a trans author about a trans girl at a new high school–but this story is absolutely worthy of every single five star must read THROW THE BOOK AT YOUR FACE review it gets. I couldn’t put it down. I had a migraine the night I was reading it and I STILL couldn’t stop reading it. That’s how good this book is.

I’m CIS, so trans issues are not my lane. But from If I Was Your Girl, I learned how to relate to people who are trans, and much of the terrible pain they have to go through. As I was reading this, I did wonder how on point the representation was–Amanda passes almost perfectly, and she gets to have the surgery and hormones at a very young age. I know this is not the experience of all trans people, but it was still really interesting to read such a main character on the page. The author does explain why she made those choices in her Author’s Note at the end, and it makes a lot of sense, why she wrote Amanda the way she did. I’ll leave everything for you to read yourself–but definitely don’t skip Russo’s note afterward.

In addition to the trans representation, we also get bisexual and gay main characters. There’s conversation about bullying, peer pressure, consensual sex vs rape. There’s also quite a bit of discussion about suicide. Take care of yourself, if you’re reading this book. But definitely read it. It’s just so so good.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
As soon as I learned about this book, I wanted to read it. And as soon as I saw it on display in the YA room of a local library, I checked it out and started reading a few days later (because I wasn’t yet done with a different book). As I quickly read this book, I smiled a lot, I got angry, I got worried, I laughed a little, I got teary-eyed, and I didn’t want it to end.

Those are signs of a really good book, aren’t they?

Before, during, and after reading, I noticed some reviews of the book. I usually don’t let reviews sway my decision to read unless the average rating is low (it wasn’t). I usually read the description, and if it interests me (which it did), I add it to my to-read list. It was hard to miss these first few reviews because they said that this book was important (often in capital letters or boldface). I’m going to agree and later give my reason for agreeing, but first a brief synopsis.

The first-person narrator of If I Was Your Girl is Amanda Hardy. She has just moved to Tennessee to live with her father and start her senior year. Though she has a wonderful mother, she was bullied and suicidal at her previous school and needed to get away where people didn’t know her past. She easily makes friends at her new school and starts dating this great guy named Grant. Throughout the book, Amanda worries about revealing her secret…which was that she used to be Andrew.

I instantly adored Amanda’s voice. She is a character that I rooted for from the get-go. She is likeable and caring and smart and vulnerable and strong and genuine—overall, she is thoroughly real. Reading her narration felt like she was sitting beside me telling her story. Even in the flashbacks before her transition and move, she was always Amanda. Paraphrasing a friend of hers from late in the book—after her past has been revealed—I couldn’t imagine Amanda as anyone other than Amanda. And that’s how it should be.

It is not a spoiler for me to reveal that Amanda’s past is revealed because this is a piece of fiction, and the conventions of fiction—and YA fiction in particular—demand that her past get revealed. It raises the stakes of the book to a logical climax and beyond. The method by which it is revealed has been used in YA books and movies before, and I felt genuinely heartbroken for Amanda at this moment. And I felt genuinely happy for Amanda for the self-acceptance she has developed at the book’s end. I won’t call it a resolution because in life, we keep living with some things not fully resolved, but where author Russo chose to stop the story was perfect.

Some other reviews criticize that the basic plot framework of the book is interchangeable with many other YA “new kid in school has a secret” books. Here, I disagree and claim that this is one of several strengths of the book because it makes Amanda’s story even more comfortable instead of making it feel like a hard-hitting “issue” book. Whether we are male, female, trans, cis, gay, straight, or anything else, we all deserve our own YA books because we’re all important people with important lives and important stories to share.

So why did I—a middle-aged, cis, straight, white male—choose to read a YA book about a trans girl? First off, I read YA not only because I write YA, but because I find that teens are struggling with their identities and roles in this world, and that time of life leads itself to much more interesting stories that better reflect life and its lessons. But more importantly, I’ve been a high school teacher for twenty years, and I have had and will have students going through situations similar to Amanda’s. I want to be as sensitive as possible to the individual needs of all of my students. I can’t walk completely in their shoes, but I need—we all need—to understand all the shoes that are out there.

In a note from the author, Meredith Russo admits that she “cleaved to stereotypes” to make the story work. She explains further, but an explanation isn’t necessary because all authors do whatever makes the story work best. If we wanted to tell an actual person’s true story, we’d be writing a memoir or a biography instead of fiction. Real life doesn’t follow plot conventions we expect when reading fiction, so I commend Russo for making “Amanda’s trans-ness as unchallenging to normative assumptions as possible.” It is not to diminish all the different and important stories of others, but to give readers an opportunity to understand. In a first-person narrated book, the reader is in the narrator’s mindset. If a reader—any reader—can take those first steps beside Amanda’s shoes for almost 300 pages and can understand and empathize, isn’t THAT something important? And therefore, isn’t this an important book?

Yes it is.

For almost 300 pages, you were the girl, Amanda, that I heard and believed, and I’m not forgetting your voice any time soon. If I Was Your Girl deserves FIVE STARS and will be on my year-end list of favorite books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This was a touching and engaging story. I liked how we got to see Amanda’s friendship network, so we weren’t just looking at her and Grant. I have to say that I didn’t feel too attached to most of her friends, probably because the book was too short for me to get to know any of them really well. I quite liked Virginia, though.

A lot of the scenes were quite relatable to me as a trans person. For instance, Amanda was thrilled and happy when she got to hang out with a gang of female friends and be accepted as one of them. I too have moments where I was invited to hang out with a group of guys, and it felt so good to be “one of them.” This is a special kind of desire for peer acceptance. It’s the desire to be accepted and welcomed by a group of people who are the same (or similar) gender as you. This desire is especially intense if others got your gender wrong for almost your entire life…

Grant was sweet for the most part, though I wish we had more time to see his relationship with Amanda unfold and develop in more detail.

Overall, this was a pleasant and emotionally engaging story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lisa4piano brown
Okay bear with me, because this review is going to be intense. It’ll include a lot of gushing praise, some of the heartache I experienced, and so much more…without being spoilery of course. This book is definitely 5 out of 5 stars in my book.

I read this book for #ReadProud, even though it’s been on my TBR list for quite a while now. I’m so glad I finally read it. Because of the summary, you already know some of the backstory of Amanda’s life. But knowing that backstory still didn’t prepare me for the roller coaster of emotions that were contained in the 288 pages of If I Was Your Girl. I thought Meredith did such a great job with the subject matter at hand. My heart went out to the main character, Amanda, so many times. As a straight female, I know I don’t know what it’s like to be trans, but seeing life through Amanda’s eyes was eye-opening. I’d like to think I’m pretty open-minded and accepting, especially after seeing the reactions of some people in this book. I say be who you are, be with whoever makes you happy, etc. because life’s too short.

Amanda was a fantastic main character. I liked that Meredith had some passages scattered throughout the book that showed us Amanda’s past, showed us what she had to endure and deal with. It made me get attached to her character even more. Grant was a pretty good guy overall, but he’s not an addition to my book boyfriend for a few reasons. One is that I just wasn’t attracted to his character. He sounded cute, but I didn’t feel myself falling for his character. The other reasons I don’t want to share, because they’re spoilers.

I thought the female friendship in this book was one of the highlights. Layla, Anna, and Chloe were amazing, especially towards the very end of the book. Amanda is lucky to have friends like them. Bee was okay, until she wasn’t, but I understand she served a purpose in the book. I really liked that Amanda got to feel like ‘one of the girls’ when she lived in Lambertville. It made my heart happy for most of the book.

The ‘past’ sections were pretty emotional overall. They really tugged at my heartstring, for lack of better words. Some were happy, but mostly they were showing the emotional, and physical, abuse Amanda endured. My heart ached that people could treat other people like that, like they were nothing. Society is so wrong at times that it’s enough to make me scream. The book ends on a slightly happier note, especially since Amanda always has her friends no matter what, and she has her whole life ahead of her to see what happens next.

Final note: I’m glad I read this book for the #ReadProud challenge this month. Such a great debut! I’d highly recommend it! I need to buy a copy for myself to own so I can keep experiencing the feels over and over again!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Amanda’s been keeping a secret... It’s that she used to be Andrew.

This was just an absolutely wonderful book. I first borrowed it from the library, but had to bring it back (can only have 2 books at that one library). So I bought it, waiting for it to arrive, and then waiting for the right mood to arrive as well.

I just flew through this book, I devoured the book, I wanted to know more about Amanda. About her life, about her previous life, but also about her life at her dad's place. I wanted to see her get happy, she so deserved that. She deserved friends who loved and cared about her. She deserved a sweet guy.

The book switches between the now, and the then. While I loved that this was done, it gave more insight in Amanda and who she was before she truly became Amanda (her struggle (and also her suicide attempt), her path to becoming a real woman) I wish it was done a bit more chronologically. Instead of jumping around in the past (from a few months to a few years), it would have been better if it started with Amanda's childhood, and then build up to the moment of her moving to her dad's place.

Amanda was a wonderful girl, she was sweet, caring, but I also so loved her nerdier side (her love for Star Wars was just a delight). She is also a great friend, even though she had trouble at times (like with the Chloe x Bee situation). You see her change so much in this book. From a shy, worried, often afraid girl who doesn't really know how to do a lot of girly things, to a girl who is brave, who can stand up for herself, and who is happy. She learns a lot from her friends, from bras (oh, girl, when that gym part came up, I was just feeling the pain) to ear piercings. :P

Grant was such a sweet guy. He isn't really the smartest, but he does try his best. He is sweet, caring, and he works his butt off. I instantly took a liking to him. Though his reaction at the prom had me wanting to slap him. :| But other than that, I loved him, and all he did for Amanda. Their dates were just adorable, and I loved how supportive he was of her.

Layla, Chloe, Anna? These girls were just amazing. They were sweet, understanding (not only during the book, but also afterwards), the pulled Amanda in their fold and didn't let her go. They dragged her to all sorts of fun events, and I was just so delighted with them. I was worried that they may change, or may just turn against Amanda, but oh no, these girls are gold. *hugs all 3 of them*

Amanda's Mom and Dad. While I can't imagine how hard it must be to find out that your son is actually your daughter (since I would call it that), I loved that these 2 still tried their best to accept Amanda. It wasn't easy, and they had a few bumps along the way, but eventually they picked up, and they were so sweet and supportive. Amanda is really lucky with her parents. Especially if you hear the stories from her best friend Virginia about their support group and how some of the people there ended. :(

Parker and Bee, I will just put those in the same category. They were pretty terrible characters. Parker had a small chance of redemption at one point (during the promposal), but then he completely and utterly destroyed everything. :|
Bee? I never quite liked her. Or maybe it should be better to say that I never trusted her. I just had a feeling. An instinct.

The only thing I didn't like in this entire book, and which prevented me from rating it 5+ stars... was the fact that Amanda sure took her sweet time to tell him, and even then, didn't push when he did that to the letter she typed out for him. And after that she just didn't care to tell him any more. I just was so frustrated. I know, she had a rough past, she is in a small town that is also religious, but something big as this, the fact you used to be a boy, should be said. It shouldn't be hidden. It shouldn't be a secret. If it is just a fling, sure, go ahead, don't tell him, but if you are envisioning a future together, if you are falling in love, then tell him. Be honest with him.
Now I can hear people say that I shouldn't judge, but I have my fair share of baggage, and I shared that quite soon with my boyfriend. As soon as I could see us staying together, I told him. We spoke about my baggage, and he told me things about his own. I think it is only fair.

What happens at prom, and afterwards. Wow. Just wow. Can we please throw Parker from somewhere high? Bah. :| I was so horrified when that happened (and no, you will have to read to find out what happens).
The after afterwards (starting at chapter 32), it was definitely a sad couple of chapters, but I also feel happiness, because things happened, talks happened, things were said, things were finally closed and came together in a good way.

The last chapter was just so sweet, and I was so happy with how everything ended, and what Amanda finally did. I can see a promising future for her and a certain someone, but I am also sure that her friends will be her friends forever, they just have such a connection.

Phew, I believe I have everything mentioned that I wanted to mention. Sorry if it is a bit chaotic, this book just brought out all the feels. It is a story that grabs you by your nose and just doesn't let go. Fantastic characters, beautiful, and at times, intense story, and much much more. I would highly recommend this book to everyone!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
anna lustig
Meredith Russo's YA novel is one that is close to her heart. Russo has dealt with gender identity issues, and If I Was Your Girl explores this topic with class and sensitivity.

Amanda Hardy is a new girl in high school, moving in with her father, after something happened while she was living with her mom.

Through chapters that are set in the past we find out what happened to Amanda that led her to have to start anew.

Amanda was born Andrew Hardy, but always felt like a girl. He expressed this early on. Now Andrew is Amanda, having undergone hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery.

Russo doesn't focus on the medical aspect, instead centering her novel around what it might be like for a teenager to attempt to change genders. Amanda wants to date, but her past as a boy isn't something most teenage boys would be able to handle. She wants to make friends, but the viewpoints and religion of some people she encounters at her school make being honest difficult.

Amanda wants a normal high school experience. However, it is hard to know who you can trust. Her own father still finds it difficult to deal with having a daughter and not a son.

This is a thought provoking novel about a topic that we are seeing in the news more and more frequently. Russo's author note at the book's end does highlight how she has taken some liberties with this story, making the surgery seem much easier than it really is. However, I can see this book as the start of many good conversations.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kristen leal
This was a really cute book. I think it was really great to have a trans girl who had parents that were so understanding with her transition. I was not expecting that at all. I think my only complaint was that she didn't really struggle with things that way most transgender teenage girls do. For one she was cis passing, and she was privileged enough to receive surgery around her 18th birthday and hormones, a luxury that many transgender teens don't have access to. I think the villain of this story was a great example that so called allies aren't really allies, and that trans women face a lot more discrimination. The whole time I sort of expected her bf was going to have the reaction when he discovered she was trans and I felt so scared for her, especially since she was so trusting of boys. I'm Cis and i'd never get in a car with a guy I know is a jerk, and yet she did thinking he really wanted to help her. I think the standout of this book was her relationship with her parents. I wish all parents could be this loving and understanding. Acceptance is the first step to this world being a better place and I was proud of her dad for protecting his daughter when she needed him. That part touched my heart. I wish there were books like this featuring girls of color. Until then, this was a great book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
gin ting
4.5 Stars

Review based on advanced copy

Plot:If I Was Your Girl opened with a nervous Amanda starting her first day at a new school. I liked that Russo interwove elements from Amanda's past throughout the novel so that readers were continuously learning about Amanda and her family dynamic. If I Was Your Girl was a slow book, but that was because the true focus was on Amanda's relationships with the people around her. It was an easy read and the mix of past and present scenes really drew me into discovering Amanda. If I Was Your Girl didn't spend a lot of time on Amanda's transition, which made it effortless to accept Amanda as nothing more than a young 16-year old girl.

Characters: Amanda was a darling girl that I empathized with on so many levels. Her relationship with her family was rocky at times, but everyone had Amanda's best interest in mind. It was funny because I found myself relating to the parents more times than not. I wanted to keep Amanda safe in a world that didn't understand the trans community. There was no true villain in If I Was Your Girl, just various people struggling with life. The relationship between Amanda and Grant was innocent and beautiful and I liked how the teens complimented each other.

Worldbuilding: Amanda relocated to the rural South to live with her estranged father after an incident at her old school. Her father was clearly trying to adjust to life with a teenaged daughter, but he also had the habit of trying to shield her from the bigots. Russo's description of Amanda's new home was nothing short of charming, but there was always the danger lurking in the background. Despite the stereotypes that come with the South, I found Russo's portrayal to be fun and fair.

Narrator Performance:Samia Mounts breathed life into Amanda for me. She gave Amanda a voice of innocence and unbridled happiness, but then could cry her sadness and uncertainty. I wish I could leave my glowing review of Mounts' performance at that, but unfortunately, I could hear her licking her lips every now and then, and that is not a pleasant sound to have in your ears for eight hours.

Short N Sweet: If I Was Your Girl is an important coming-of-age story that explores various relationships. I highly recommend to everyone!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This may be one of the most eye opening books I have ever read. It has opened my heart in ways I never thought possible. When I finished this book I cried. I cried because I was taken into Amanda's life, world, emotions, mind, and I could never ever imagine or put myself in her shoes and know what she was going through. It is something I will never know or completely understand because I could never put myself in their shoes and trying to image it terrifies me. I thank Meredith Russo for opening my eyes and my heart to what life is like for those who are transgender, gay. lesbian, bisexual, or asexual.

This book was excellently written. I felt for Amanda through the entire book. I was shown what life for her was like and how things she went through changed the way she thought and lived her life. I was scared for her and happy all at the same time. This story is truly a treasure to read and it will stay with me forever. I just wanted her to be herself, be accepted, and loved. I was so happy there was such diversity in this book and the fact that it was set in the south. Amanda had great friends (love Layla) and she had a great mom, who was so supportive. Its one thing I loved about this book as well. This is an all around amazing book.

I highly recommend this book. I loved it so much and is now one of my favorite books ever. This book has such power and heart.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
s wong
If I Was Your Girl is powerful and important book. It is Amanda’s story: She is transgender and finishing her senior year of high school living with her dad after an incident occurred while she was living with her mom. It has been many years since she has seen her father. The chapters alternate between the past and present to give us Amanda’s full story in the order we need to learn everything.

If I was Your Girl is a Young Adult novel, but I think everyone should read this book. For those of us that are not transgender we can be called ‘cisgender’ (a person whose identity and gender corresponds with their biological sex) and we can see a fictionalized story of what transgender people can go through. The author, Meredith Russo is a transgender woman. She does a very good job getting us in the head of a teenage transgender girl. We see Amanda’s pain when she was Andrew. We grow to love Amanda and root for her. We see all sides of Amanda’s journey: her parents facing the fact that they are ‘losing’ their son, but gaining a daughter, Amanda’s new friends, and a possible love. Amanda does her best to keep her distance from Grant and keeping her secret from her friends. She doesn’t know how they will react if they know she was Andrew. She is torn with this, especially when it comes to Grant, as they get closer.

Meredith Russo wrote an afterword that answers some questions the reader may have had as they were reading the book, and even some answers to questions you may not have even realized you had! She writes to both her ‘cisgender readers’ and ‘trans readers’ and explains why she wrote the book the way she did. She explains that she is a story teller, not an educator. Her story is very different from Amanda’s and doesn’t want us to take Amanda’s story as fact. Every transgender person has a different story, and they can be as varied as ours. The Author’s Notes (narrated by the author) is just as important as the novel and needs to be read.

The narrator of the audiobook is Samia Mounts and she does a superb job. A narrator can make or break an audiobook and she shines through the novel! Her voice is perfect for Amanda and the performance is phenomenal. You really feel everything Amanda feels through Samia Mounts’ narration.

The original cover is of transgender model Kira Conley. She is beautiful and I actually pictured her as Amanda as I was listening to the book.

If I Was Your Girl is a novel that will make you think. It is highly recommended. Another book I recommend is Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt. This is a true story of a transgender girl, her twin brother and her fight for acceptance.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
If I Was Your Girl is a prime example of book publishing done right. It’s a contemporary YA novel featuring a transgender woman as its main character, written by an author who is a transgender female herself. And if I am not wrong, so is the audio-book narrator, and the model on the cover of this book. So, it has this aura of authenticity around it.

But that is not to say that this is by any means the author’s life story. It’s a completely fictional tale, oversimplified at places, so as to enable a broader audience to relate to it. And I guess it hits the mark on that one – this book can be indeed read and appreciated by a wide variety of audiences, irrespective of their gender or sexual orientation.

Now talking about the actual elements of this story – this is essentially a character driven tale, which of-course makes sense in this case, considering the subject matter it deals with, so Amanda’s journey takes center-stage – the physical transformation, as well as her emotional development.

The plot is relatively lack-luster, the romance pretty generic, and some of the friendships and relationships a little too stereotypical. However, the author (in the author’s note) admits to oversimplifying the story intentionally, so that the cis-gendered readers would have no possible barrier to understanding Amanda as a teenage girl with a different medical history from most other girls. I can’t say that I completely agree with the author’s line of reasoning, but I do understand it.

Read full review on SHANAYA TALES DOT COM.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I couldn't possibly review a book like this from the same insider perspective as a trans girl or woman, but I still found IF I WAS YOUR GIRL to be moving and genuine and EXTREMELY important. Not just because it's written by a trans woman and features a trans girl cover model, but because it's a pretty uplifting story as far as transgender narratives in YA (or heck, in fiction period) go.

When Amanda goes to live with her dad in a small Tennessee town following her transition, she makes friends and falls in love for the first time in her life. Although most of the book focuses on how much happier Amanda is able to be now that she's living as her true self, there is also a past timeline that showcases what led Amanda to her transition and how lonely she was before it.

IF I WAS YOUR GIRL doesn't shy away from darker topics (suicide and bullying come immediately to mind), and the ending isn't as happy as I was expecting, given the reviews that I've read. What I took away from the story, and what I'm hoping that readers will take away too, is that there can be life after monumental change, and after heartbreak. Transitioning is, in many ways, the start of Amanda's journey instead of the end of the line. It doesn't cost her the friends she's made, or the relationship she's developing with her dad. Instead, Amanda's transition gives her the courage to tell another major character, loudly and proudly, that she has always been a girl even though she was born a boy.

And if that moment resonated with me, a straight cis-gendered person, I can only imagine how much it will resonate with trans teens who happen to pick up the book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alicia furness
IF I WAS YOUR GIRL is an #OwnVoices book. I am so happy that there’s finally a book about a trans teen by a transwoman author published by a big company. I’m not devaluing the importance of small/indie presses, it’s just those books have less of a chance of finding their way into libraries/hands of teens who need them.

And let’s not forget the #OwnVoices, because that’s a *really* big thing. Imagine if you were in Amanda’s shoes, and you saw the author went through many of the same things her character did, and came out stronger on the other side? It’s a big deal.

In some ways, I feel IF I WAS YOUR GIRL is just a bit too easy and hopeful, but on the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with that. Amanda does have a relatively easy time in the South, even going to church once with extreme conservatives, and having an accepting group of friends, but… it just shows that you can possibly find support anywhere. And not every trans story needs to be full of doom and gloom. Yes, there’s some of that here, but it’s more about Amanda learning to really live her life, to overcome fears and realize she deserves to be loved as she is.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
susan braun
If you're a regular reader of my reviews, I know what you're thinking. "Tracy, what is this? You don't read contemporary." And yeah, you're right, I usually don't. My contemporary reads are few and far between. I came across If I Was Your Girl while reading reviews for Beast (review to come). This author had reviewed that book and I was intrigued, so when I had the chance to get the audiobook through my library I took it!

If I Was Your Girl is about Amanda, a trans girl who has relocated to live with her dad after having issues with her last school after her transition. Her plan is to keep her head down to make it through senior year, graduate, and move to New York where she's sure she'll be accepted. Unfortunately her plan got a little derailed, and by a guy, no less! (It happens to the best of us.) I loved Amanda! She's a very relatable character, the kind of girl who somehow manages to get along with everyone. Literally. She's friends with the class-skipping stoner and the girl who goes to church three times a week.

Her love interest, Grant, falls for her without knowing that she used to be Andrew and I loved their relationship! There was such a contrast between how simple it was on his end, just getting to know her, and how complicated it was for Amanda, who was often unsure of whether she should open up to him about her past. I really enjoyed watching them slowly get to know each other while Amanda let her guard down a little bit at a time. I will admit that the romance was kind of insta-lovey, but that's okay because it honestly wasn't the main focus of the story.

So yes, the characters are awesome, but so is this story! I think this is an incredibly important book because it's one of the first books of its kind in the YA genre and perhaps the first book about a transgender teen girl written by a transgender woman. In the midst of all the diversity discussion lately, I'm glad that this book exists and I really hope that we see more like it in the industry. I appreciated being able to experience what Amanda went through, seeing how it might be for a trans teen in America. I think Meredith Russo did a fantastic job of writing Amanda in a way that made it easy to step into her shoes and see things from her perspective.

My main issue with If I Was Your Girl is that it is somewhat unrealistic. The acceptance she found in small town Tennessee was amazing and heartwarming! But I do have a hard time believing that everything would be quite that smooth in Bible Belt USA, having been raised there. Still, I've seen people say ask, "Why shouldn't a trans girl get a happily ever after?" and I have to agree. I'd like to think of this book as a portrayal of the way things should be.

If I Was Your Girl was a really good read! I enjoyed it for the most part, although there were times when the story dragged and I got a bit bored (yay for audiobooks!). I really loved Amanda and her romance with Grant, even though it was much... sweeter(?) than what I'm used to reading. Like I said, contemporary is not my genre but I still enjoyed this book a lot! I'd definitely recommend If I Was Your Girl to anyone who loves contemporary romance or are on the hunt for good LGBT fiction.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nadege clitandre
If I was your girl was a book I've been wanting to read since the moment I heard about it for the first time. It's not news that I am mad over diversity in books, and in particular, I love to read stories with LGBTQIA rep, since I have no first or second hand experience about that community. If I was your girl, especially, was my first trans book, and I was unbelievably excited and looking forward to read what the book had in store for me. I expected to be enlightened, but I wasn't ready for the deep and emotional impact it left on me.

Amanda might just seem to be a pretty, normal and happy girl to anyone who looks at her for the first time. It doesn't take her a long time to make friends and even get a super cute and nice boyfriend at her new school, and life should have been pretty normal for a girl like her. But Amanda has her secrets. Her relationship with her dad is complicated. She has tried to kill herself. A few years ago, she was called Andrew....

If I was your girl was an important book. A beautiful book. An emotional book. A story that deals with the aftermath of a gender confirmation surgery, how a trans teen copes with family, relationships, her identity and life in general. If I was your girl is an eye opening and poignant tale, a must read which gives a chance for fellow trans readers to relate, and cis gender readers to be educated on this particular subject matter.

Amanda was wonderful, and I was able to develop a connection with her character as the story progressed. Her voice was clear, even when her thoughts and feelings were confused. She had a great personality, and it's beautiful to see how much she had grown and changed from the confused soul she was - whom we get glimpses of through flashbacks - or even from the person she was when the book started. She is strong, genuine, smart and brave and it was delight to be a part of her story.

I loved the batch of secondary characters. Grant, the love interest, is sweet, nice, caring and understanding. The romance between them is so cute and provided the lightness the book needed. Amanda's new friends in school, who has their own complications, but were a pillar of support. And most of all, Amanda's parents, two realistically and beautifully fleshed out characters, whose ways of dealing with Amanda's transition was so different and so real. Amanda's mum is a sweetheart, whose love for her child is more worthy than any kind of social stigma. Amanda's relationship with her dad is one bittersweet, complex and deep journey, which brought tears to my eyes by the end.

But the beauty of the book is that it was not just about how it is to be trans teen. It was a story about one's identity crisis, first romance, prejudices and beliefs, bullying and the bravery to stand by and do what your heart wills you to do. It was about complicated relationships - with parents, friends and oneself. All these were portrayed beautifully and provided a raw and honest tale.

That being said, I loved the LGBT aspects of it. Amanda's journey and struggles were so realistic, considering the author herself is trans woman. I also loved the treatment of the concept of faith and LGBT, which was beautifully portrayed with the right sense of ambiguity in it.

It is also important to note that If I was your girl doesn't talk about certain things. Simply put, the book is one I would call realistic, but not brutally honest. Amanda looks entirely feminine and it creates no doubt in anyone who sees her that she could've been anything other than a girl. She hasn't had any complications during her surgery. Her parents could afford it all in the first place. Her friends were accepting. Her boyfriend was a sweet heart. I would dare to even call that Amanda had it easy to an extent. But reading Meredith's author's note - yes I do read those - it was clear that it was intentional. What Meredith has intended to do is provide a basic understanding, a stepping stone into the life of a trans gender man or woman. It was easy to understand her intentions, and it was a rather smart one if you ask me, considering the fact that it left the book to be moving and not be cluttered and complicated at the same time.

If I was your girl is an important book. I would recommend it to each and every one of you - it's a tale of an amazing girl who used to be a boy, with enough cuteness, romance and lightness to balance out the emotions, the heartache and the tears that are inevitable. Thank you Meredith Russo for this book, thank you for telling Amanda's story, for opening my eyes and I am pretty sure, a lot of readers' eyes on the way.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
suzanne hill
I am beyond glad I picked this book up. I've been dying to read it for a few months now. When it came in the mail, I was so excited. This book is beautifully written. This book is life changing.

I feel like I have a better perspective with the transgender community now. I have never been against the LGBT community whatsoever. But this book shed so much light for me.

I know you shouldn't tell someone a book is important for them to read, but this book is important. I think it's important for all high school kids to read this. I think everyone needs this perspective in their mind before they try to judge a person for not being comfortable as the sex they are born with.

Amanda is such a beautiful character. She is so strong. She is gorgeous inside and out. She goes through so much in this book, it breaks my heart. She is so brave. I don't think I would have survived if I went through have the things she did.

All I have to say about this book is thank you. Thank you for teaching me new things. Thank you for teaching me to love everyone no matter their gender/sexual orientation.

Thank you Meredith Russo for writing this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
If I Was Your Girl was a compelling read, told from the first-person POV of Amanda, a young woman who was born Anthony, a male. The novel opens with her on a bus, heading to live with her father, who was resistant to his son's behaviors before his wife divorced him. It soon becomes clear that Amanda had attempted suicide a few years prior, and that had prompted her mother to get her the help (hormones, surgeries) to transition, as in her mother's words, she'd rather lose a son and gain a daughter than lose her child.
The novel follows her in her new school, where she is 'passing' as a girl, which both pleases and confuses her. She soon gets in with a group of girls, and becomes the interest of a football player, Grant. As her friendships and relationship grows, she becomes increasingly happy, but increasingly nervous that her secret, her truth, will be revealed and she'll be outcast once more.
It has really touching and emotional moments, both positive and negative.
The author, Meredith Russo, a transgendered woman herself, explains in the post-text notes that she purposely made Amanda's story-her transition, her successes, the quickness with which everything happened, a bit simpler so as to hopefully appeal to wider audiences. I feel like there were enough details of her struggles, and her internal voice was superb to give the average reader and understanding of what trans people deal with. I'm an open-minded LGBTQ ally, and yet, this made me confront my preconceived notions or assumptions of transgendered people. I cannot recommend it enough. I think, especially within the YA umbrella, stories with marginalized and vulnerable people are vitally important.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Amanda Hardy restarted her life with her Dad in the small town of Lambertville, Tennessee after years of ridicule and abuse by her peers for being different. Grant Everett is everything she was looking for, but her secret has not allowed her to get too close to him or her new friends. Will Amanda have the courage to tell the truth, despite the consequences?

Touching upon sensitive social issues, If I Was Your Girl realistically depicts the difficulties of being a teenager who is perceived as being different. I wish the book had been written in a more linear fashion, as I do not feel the author gave a complete picture of Amanda's life before. I liked that Amanda's parents were described as mostly supportive of their child but that their fears were expressed, as it seemed very realistic to me. If I Was Your Girl can be used as a way to open a dialogue between teen and parent, as well as raising awareness for the issues discussed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
pam mastin
"You can have anything once you admit you deserve it."

Amanda Hardy is new to Lambertville, Tennessee and nervous about starting at a new school for her senior year. She isn't sure what to expect when she moves in with her father who she hasn't seen in a few years. She isn't sure if this town will be any kinder to her than the hometown she had to leave. All she wants to do is blend in and avoid getting too close to anyone. She's used to being an outsider so it should be simple.

Grant Everett sorely tests Amanda's resolve. He is funny, kind, and no one Amanda ever thought she could be with. Getting closer to Grant makes Amanda feel safe and known. So much so that shea wonders if it might be time to let Grant see all of her--including the secrets from her past.

But she has no idea if Grant will be able to see her as the girl he's gotten to know when he finds out that Amanda used to be Andrew in If I Was Your Girl (2016) by Meredith Russo.

If I Was Your Girl is Russo's first novel. It's also important to mention that she is a transgender woman. An author's note at the back of the book addresses some of her creative choices and provides further resources and support for trans teens.

This book is a really powerful and important story. Amanda is an empathetic heroine with a narrative voice that is immediately engaging and approachable. More importantly, this is not an issue-driven book. Instead, If I Was Your Girl is a sweet, introspective, and romantic story about a girl who happens to be transgender.

Everyone in If I Was Your Girl has a secret whether it's something they're hiding for their own protection or just because they're embarrassed. These secrets include sexual orientation and a character who is hiding his mother's health problems and his family's low income status. The way these secrets unfold and play out in the narrative add another dimension to the story as Amanda and her friends learn about what it means--and what it can cost--to reveal your deepest truths to someone new.

Parts of the plot meander and even drag. Amanda's adjustment to her new school is contrasted throughout the novel with flashbacks to her distant and recent past including moments when she was bullied, her decision to transition, and a heart-wrenching suicide attempt.

Russo presents Amanda's story with tenderness and care. In addition to featuring a strong, transgender girl at its heart, this story also surrounds Amanda with support. Her life still isn't easy--there are obstacles and hateful, scary moments. But throughout the story, Amanda also has her mother cheering her on and begins to rebuild her relationship with her estranged father. She finds friends who trust and accept her and a boy who cares deeply about her. If I Was Your Girl is a hopeful and uplifting story where Amanda works to become the person she's always wanted to be.

Possible Pairings: Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg, Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu, The Truth Commission by Susan Juby, How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras, In Real Life by Jessica Love, Dumplin' by Julie Murphy, This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is a really important book. I also really enjoyed it and read the whole thing in a single day while I was home sick from work.

Amanda is trans and has just moved to a new school where no one questions that she's a girl. There are a couple of comments about how tall she is, but no one thinks she's mannish or anything.

Yet Amanda can't fully relax, especially after she realizes what she's feeling for Grant is more than friendship. She feels like she needs to tell him the truth about herself, but is terrified of ruining everything with her confession.

Amanda's experience feels authentic (the author is trans herself, so it should) even if it feels a little too easy. Her mother has accepted her as a girl and supported her transition, even paid for the surgery to complete it. Her father, who hasn't been in the picture since she was a child, takes her in after things became problematic at home.

Her past and how she came out as trans are shown in chapters of flashback woven through the narrative. In these, her father is shown to be less than accepting of his son's leanings as a child, but he's trying to make up for it now.

At the end of the book the author notes that Amanda's transition has been made easier by her family's acceptance and the fact they appear to have enough money to help her through the transitioning process (something that doesn't feel quite authentic, because neither parent appears to have a job that would provide for this easily). Not every kid who feels the way Amanda does has that level of support or the means to transition so smoothly. And I think it's important that she has noted that because it's the one part of the book that felt off for me.

Overall though, I recommend this. There are too few books about the trans experience, especially those by authors who know first hand what it feels like.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dennis charlebois
As I was reading this novel, I kept thinking, what in the hell are you doing Amanda? I really thought she was overly confident and risky. I know she was finally becoming who she wanted to be but the pace at which was arriving at it with, was scaring the pants off me! Amanda was a new student, living in new surroundings, living with a father whom she really didn’t know, wearing a new identity and acting so carefree and flirty, I just about died. She had lived her whole life as Andrew and now after surgery and taking her medication, Andrew was now Amanda. With fire and gusto, she rushed into a romance for which I kept shaking my head. She found a friend named Bee, who was exciting and carefree. I could go on about Bee but I think Amanda put too much into Bee. I was glad that Amanda found other friends besides Bee and I only wished that she would have trusted these friends as much as she trusted Bee. Amanda realizes the reaction that she will receive when others find out the truth about her past which is why, she feels she must keep her past a secret. This secret can only be hidden for so long and what will become of her then?

I liked how the author told the whole story of Andrew and Amanda. With randomly inserted chapters, we were flashed back to when Amanda was Andrew, before he had the surgery. It told of the conflict that the family wrestled with over the years and of Andrew’s feelings as he coped with being a male. The emotions of the parents felt realistic and genuine. It made this novel more realistic to feel everyone’s’ side of the story. Everyone has secrets and I wondered as I read along, just who would share their secrets with Amanda as she got more familiar with her new surroundings. Why do we feel that we need to share everything with the world to be accepted? What secrets should we keep from others and which ones do we need to share? At what point, do you open yourself up to others for their acceptance? I still believe she should have been taking things slower and being more cautious to her surroundings and then perhaps things might have transpired differently. I really enjoyed this novel. It is a novel that is more than just about gender issues.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book first caught my attention because it’s about a book about a trans teenage girl, written by a trans author, featuring a trans model on the front of the hardcover!! I mean, that alone is like a holy trifecta of excellence. And the book doesn’t disappoint! Exploring the story of Amanda, a woman designated male at birth, the book shows Amanda’s transition, struggle for acceptance, both self-acceptance, and the acceptance of family and friends, bullying, romance, and other everyday life issues. It’s so emotionally poignant, honest, and well-done in introducing people to parts of the struggle and lives of people who are transgender.

Amanda was an interesting and vibrant main character. Real in her emotional struggles, her relationships, and her interests, Amanda is well-rounded and watching her blossom into self-acceptance was beautiful beyond belief. Amanda’s friends and family were also interesting, as you see how both parents react to Amanda’s identity, as well as how friends who didn’t know, and who were with her through her transition, treat her and act. Russo makes a point in the afterward to mention that Amanda’s life as a transgender woman is very simple and straightforward, as to introduce people to the concepts and aspects of being transgender. While Amanda’s story doesn’t cover every possible struggle unique to being transgender, or other issues that can become a struggle, it is a beautiful and elegantly done story to introduce people who want to know more, as well as hopeful and relatable for those who identity as transgender themselves.

This book was short and at times, a bit simple in writing style, but the character growth and the story progression made this a five star winner for me and an instant favorite. I want to hand this book out everywhere and I certainly hope Russo will write more for us in the future!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
edwin arnaudin
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.


★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
melissa arney
I can't claim to have personal relationship with a trans-person. However I do know several and I do have empathy for the struggles and intolerance those people must have to deal with on a daily basis. I was very eager to learn more about a young person's journey to live a life as their true self. I eagerly snapped up "If I Was Your Girl" (oh that gorgeous cover alone). Inside I found a beautiful story as well. And a very readable story. Amanda was born Andrew. A physical boy who always knew he was girl. As a child Andrew dreamed of the day he could wear dresses and be his parent's daughter. Flashback scenes to this time are poignant and heart-wrenching. How could anyone think this is a conscious choice?

It is years later and Amanda has had surgery. And she easily passes as young woman. No one she meets in her new town questions that she is a girl. In fact the boys think she is pretty hot. A lot of that comes from Amanda's newfound happiness in being herself. She makes connections with other teenagers for the first time. She has friends. She even has a boyfriend, Grant. She is finally breaking down some chilly, long-standing walls with her dad. But this book couldn't be a book if there was a conflict. It was not a surprise in any way on what the final conflict is.

So I liked this book a lot. We need books like this. More kids need to know this is normal adn that they will be ok I removed one star because the book makes it seem easy to get surgery and pass for as female. I just don't think those pieces can be as easy as they appear in the book. But I get the author's goal. She wants to show kids that things can work out. And the CAN. And that is a beautiful thing. That is hope.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
With so much conflict involving rights for trans and genderfluid people, Meredith Russo's debut resonates deeply. But this isn't a textbook, as Ms. Russo states in her author's note. This is the story of a girl who is trying to accept herself in a time and place where being herself can be dangerous.

Amanda's whole life has been defined by fear. Her father's trying to come to terms with his son's true identity as a girl. She'd been bullied at school, friendless and scared and even attacked by classmates and adults. Living with her mother in Georgia, she relocates to Lambertville, Tennessee, to live with her dad and fly under the radar until she graduates high school. All of these conflicts were written about in a way that immersed me in Amanda's life while being sympathetic yet not overly sentimental. There's a memory involving her diary before she transitioned that had me wiping away angry tears. It was painful and I wanted to come to Amanda's defense so many times.

But that's not all to Amanda's story. She likes video games, comics, and Star Wars. At her new school, she makes friends. She goes to parties. She falls in love for the first time with a boy named Grant who could possibly accept her as she is and it's so sweet, it made me smile so many times. There's a promposal (at their Homecoming) that had me cheering.

There were some liberties taken, as Ms. Russo states in her note, including Amanda being able to easily pass for a girl, the expenses for surgeries, and her own dad's reluctance shifting near the end, which makes the book a little harder to review, but for all intents and purposes, seeing Amanda grow from a girl determined to not stand out to coming into her own was beautifully done. This is one of the most poignant coming of age YA novels I have read.

As some reviewers mentioned, I feel like some of the dialogue was trying too hard to be "Southern," and I noticed one of the bullies in Amanda's high school was the major offender. I don't know if this was supposed to put in him a category or not, but the use of "ain't" and "don't no nothin'" was distracting. I also had issues with the way some scenes ended abruptly. I felt like there could have been more to the secondary characters as well. The ending left loose ends, but was very satisfying.

I hope many people discover this book, read it, talk about it. This story is just as important as any other out there, and it must be heard.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bath sheba lane
If I Was Your Girl is a beautiful, hopeful and heartwarming book about Amanda, a high school senior, who desperately wants to fit in despite her past. She wants friends. She wants to be liked. She wants to fit in and she wants to keep her secret hidden. Amanda's secret is that she was born as a boy but has always identified as female.

Russo paints a story that is both eye-opening and painful as we witness Amanda's present and her torture filled past, which included bullying, physical abuse at the hands of her peers, her parents' divorce and even a suicide attempt. While If I Was Your Girl is fiction, the author, who is a trans woman, admits in the Author's Note, that some liberties were taken but the feelings, experiences and trauma ring true for many in the LGTBQ community.

At its heart If I Was Your Girl is a love story. First it's a love story between Amanda and Grant, her boyfriend, but you realize that it's truly a love story of self. Despite the trauma Amanda experienced she wants to be loved and deserves to be loved. She realizes that she's worthy.

"Either way, I realized, I wasn't sorry I existed anymore. I deserved to live. I deserve to find love. I knew now—I believed, now—that I deserved to be loved."

In today's political and social climate where we are debating what bathrooms someone should use or not use, who someone can or cannot marry, Meredith Russo should be applauded for reminding us of the most simple fact — we are all human beings who deserve to be loved for being us.

If I Was Your Girl should be read by everyone and is too important to miss. We can all identify with the characters in the book and can see ourselves in parts of them.

Do yourself a favor and pick up this book and then pass it along to a friend.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jenny heller
4.5 stars

Amanda Hardy moved to Lambertville, TN sometime after her parent's divorce. Grant Everett sat next to her at lunch asking her number for his friend Parker. From that day on, Amanda and Grant became inseparable.

Meredith Russo writes a honest story about Amanda. If I Was Your Girl is definitely the LGBTQIA novel of 2016. Not only does Russo educate readers, but she also evokes a multitude of emotions. The writing style flows fairly well despite the flashbacks which shed light on the history of Amanda's past without disrupting the present plot line.

Although Amanda has a hard time figuring out who she is, I am glad that she has a supportive group of friends. Layla, Anna and Chloe are unique in their own way and they helped Amanda break through her shell and they didn't force her to do something that she is not comfortable with. They were very open minded and they didn't shun her when they found out that she is trans.

Russo tackles a variety sociodemographic and family dynamics. Grant may seem like the perfect guy but he harbors some secrets too. He hides the fact that he works many hours to help support his family. His family is not well off and he wants to help out as much as possible. Bee has her own share of secrets too but what she did at the end of the book is ridiculous. At first she is a good friend but then she becomes jealous and maddened. What kind of friend back stabs someone like that?

If I Was Your Girl is an important and powerful book that everyone should read. It's a coming-of-age novel that tackles bullying, questioning your identity, making new friends, divorce, moving and finding love.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
stefan karlsson
not done with it yet
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
redar ismail
It's great to see a YA book about a transgender teen, especially one that's well-written and deals with issues that teenagers face all the time. I thought the character of Amanda was interesting and very dynamic, and it was easy to relate to her. Her romantic relationship started out superficial but quickly became more compelling as she and her boyfriend actually got to know one another better. I suppose that many teens do start dating before they actually know each other very well, though I prefer to read about relationships that begin with a gradually building friendship.

I do wish the book had spent a little more time looking at Amanda's relationship with her parents, who were often absent and seemed more like caricatures than any of the other characters in the book. It also really bothered me that so many people constantly told Amanda how beautiful she was, but there was no real exploration of our society's focus on superficial looks, and the role that it can play in the life of a trans woman, or any woman.

As a warning, this book does contain some graphic violence and assault scenes, which are unfortunately a realistic part of our world, but still very hard to read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This ya book is told from the pov of Amanda. She has recently moved in with her father after her being sperated from him after her parents divorce 6 years prior.
This book gives flashbacks to Amanda's life before becoming her true self. The reader sees her family life, school life and medical life before the transition.
Most of the story is told in present tense. We attend a new school with Amanda and made new friends with her. We see her fear and apprehensions.
This book was amazing and the audiobook had me going through a rainbow of emotions. The narrator had the ability to add so much inflection in her voice that I was crying, shaking in fear and smiling during joyous scenes. The tremble in her voice the uneasiness when discussing difficult times and the sheer joy she put into her voice at just the right times made this audiobook so full.
I think this book is beautiful and important. I think the simplest and most basic thing for anyone to get out of this book is that we are all people. Anyone reading this book can relate to Amanda and her thoughts in some way. I hope more people pick this book up.
The writing was perfect and reflected the southern atmosphere perfectly. I like how she chose when to release certain flashbacks. I felt like the parents were very realistic and present. They weren't perfect but they were there. The dynamic between certain characters broke my heart.
This book has so many great attributes: great trans rep from the author, cover model, and amazing story. Great friendships and realistic and present parents.
The author makes sure to note that this book is not to be used as a manual for all trans women. She writes, "I hope that, having gotten to know Amanda, you will not apply the details of her experience as dogma other trans people must adhere to but rather as inspiration to pursue an ever broader understanding of our lives and identities, as well as your own understanding of gender and sex."

I highly recommend picking this book up. This is my script for my video review. Once I post my review I will retract this and post a link. Thanks for reading and watching
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lynn hartter
Amanda Hardy just started school in Lambertville, TN. She's living with her estranged father because staying in Atlanta with her mom is no longer safe. She was beaten up because of who she is. Ever since she was little (and biologically a boy) Amanda has identified herself as a girl. It was her father's inability to deal with it that led to the divorce. Now, he's struggling in very different ways because Amanda has had reassignment surgery.
Fortunately, she is welcomed by a group of girls on her first day at school. They make her feel comfortable and wanted. Then she meets Grant Everett who is not only good looking, but kind and honest. Even so, can she let herself fall for him, not knowing how he'll react when he learns her secret?
Read the book and find out. This is another impossible to put down YA stories. It comes extremely close in quality and emotional impact to my gold standard for books on transgenger teens, Brian Katcher's Almost Perfect. Given the time span since that was written, it makes sense that the ending in this is more positive. This is an excellent book for any and all libraries to add.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
dana marie
I mostly enjoyed this book, although I did have a few problems with it. It's HUGE that an actual trans woman wrote and published a book about a trans girl, because that is unfortunately something that we don't see very often. And the girl on the cover is trans as well! Yay for trans rep!

This book was a quick read, and did an excellent job of holding my attention. The protagonist's past was revealed piece by piece to give the reader a glimpse of what happened. The narrator's voice was very strong.

I do have some issues with the events that happened towards the end of the book. I wish the story had been happier - it wasn't THAT tragic, but there still aren't that many happy books about trans people, especially trans women. I recognize the need for books that are realistic, and that portray the nastier/grittier aspects of life for these girls, but I also want them to have ends that are definitely happy, and not as ambiguous as the one in this book. I would like to hear from trans women on this, though, because I want to make sure that I'm coming at this from the right angle. I plan to post an expanded review on my blog within the next few days so if you could reply soon that would be great since I'll take it into account in my review!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tina parmer
The story grabbed me from the very beginning and had me on edge as Amanda changes schools and moves back to her father's, seeing him for the first time in years, after it becomes clear that she's not safe in her current school. It then weaves back and forth between current life for Amanda who's trying to navigate life as a teenage girl in a new school and her life a few years before.

The thing with books that are big and important is that so many times I WANT to love them more than I actually do because either the writing isn't fully there or I don't fully love the characters or story or it's just SO forced. This was a book I wanted to love and am SO happy that I actually FULLY 100% did because it was AMAZING. The story was wonderfully executed and literally made me feel every freaking emotion. I loved not only Amanda but many of the characters--flaws and all for being so real and human. And the friendships managed to temporarily melt even my black heart.

At the end of the day this is a well written, coming of age story that had me rooting harder for a character than I ever have before.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
***Warning: Spoilers***

While the grammatically incorrect title may put off some readers, this book pays off. The author states at the end of the novel that she took certain liberties with the reality of the book that purposefully did not portray a transgender journey accurately. Russo's statement is 100% true. 

While Amanda's journey is not accurate to transgender standards, the liberties help guide the novel in the direction that Russo wanted it to go in. Russo wanted this novel to reach out to the normal cisgender reader, perhaps someone who doesn't know much at all about what being transgender is like. This is an LGBTQ+ novel written purely for non-LGBTQ+ readers. It's a novel that is meant to inform while it entertains. 

Of course, this leaves something to be desired by the informed reader. The writing is good, but lacks inspiration. It reads more informational at times than entertaining. It heavily follows normal YA tropes and for that reason seems uninspired. If the transgender aspect were taken out of the equation, nothing would make this book stand out. 

There's also many moments of controversy in the novel, including a token outing by the only other out LGBTQ+ character in the book. Russo certainly took multiple liberties with Amanda's world, ones that make it seem like it's almost written in another world. Not only did she bend the rules of transitioning, but Amanda was so naturally pretty that many of the characters couldn't see past her stunner looks. 

The main character undoubtedly faces her own trials, but a book should be hailed for the plot within as well as the characters.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
magdy badr
As someone who grew up in Chattanooga and spent a huge chunk of their adult life thus far in Knoxville, it was nice to see some authentic queer east Tennessee rep without shoehorning the entire book into a made-up, one-dimensional small town. Some of the book takes place in a made-up town, but there are plenty of references to Chattanooga and Knoxville. Probably my first time seeing a Krystal's (sorry, Krystal) in a YA book too, super cool.

I like the cover a lot - trans girl rep. <3

And of course, eternal love for a trans woman author who wrote some really beautiful acks at the end.

Trigger warning for assault, attempted rape, and slurs, so please read this book with care.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dee cuadra
I loved this book. It illuminated the often confusing waters of what it means to be transgender and shines a light on the hopes, fears and realities of a person struggling with gender identity. Meredith Russo paints a picture of a teen in the state of becoming-and the courage it takes to stand up for your convictions in the face of hate, your family who may not understand and the inner demons that won't stop whispering. I can honestly say that reading this book helped me to understand. There is a reason it won so many awards. Every teen should read this. Anyone contemplating suicide for fear of being who they are should open its pages and listen.

Favorite quote: "I asked you what you feel. You can't have art if you spend all your time forgetting pain."

How true that is.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I obtained a copy of this book through my local library. I write stories for children and mid-teens and I needed more understanding about the issues written in this story. I am an aging baby-boomer now, but I was a single parent, raised a lovely daughter on my own and many of her friends in high school and college were bi-sexual and transgender. When I read the review about this book in the monthly book review magazine from my local bookstore, I felt the unction to read it.
There were times when the story felt like just another adolescent soap opera UNTIL the truth began to emerge. When I patiently compared the stories my daughter had shared with me about her friends, I felt an overwhelming sense of compassion. The character of Grant was exceptionally compelling; his grace and unconditional love for his friends learned from the difficult experiences of his own family life. Adolescence is an extremely difficult journey, and our culture seems to compound it at every turn with judgment, fault-finding and impotent attempts to force conformity.
I am glad I read this book and I appreciated the author's candor in her acknowledgements at the end of the book. My understanding has been expanded and I have a new level of compassion for how this issue effects everyone in our world.
Thank you for letting me share my thoughts here.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dave russell
I read this entire book in one sitting and I don't do that with books very often, so that should tell you something right off the bat. I was so excited to read a trans book by a trans author (and with a trans cover model!), and it didn't disappoint. I loved Amanda, the main character, and the secondary characters were all written well too. I really appreciated that Amanda's parents were both part of the story and we got to learn about their reactions and how they dealt with Amanda's transition, but this was still primarily Amanda's story and the book was centered around her and how she was coping being stealth at a new school. I loved it from the dedication all the way through to the great author's note at the end.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo is about a girl named Amanda. Amanda just wants to get through her senior year and go to college far far away from her home in Atlanta, some place like New York where they are much more liberal and accepting. That is because Amanda is Transgender, Amanda has just transitioned and is moving to go live with her Dad where no one knows about her transition. She is doing this for her own safety, it is dangerous to be transgender especially in the south. I really enjoyed this story of Amanda figuring herself out and teaching others to accept her as well. It was really eye opening about how people who are transgender live their lives (I know this is just one story, so I mean this as a general statement off of a single example). I would recommend this book to any one who has an interest in the LGTBQ+ community and everyone else as well so that they can become educated as well.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mihir sucharita
This is a beautiful, painful, powerful story. It's the story of a young transwoman's journey from self-doubt to self-recognition to self-destruction to self-esteem and self-efficacy; it can, I believe, engender understanding and empathy among young readers -- its intended audience. For adults, especially those of us familiar with this journey either via person experience or the experience of friends and loved ones, it may seem a oversimplified and really idealistic. Read the author's notes first! This is intended for the uninitiated; for the young person just hearing and learning about gender diversity, who will fall in love with the heroine of the story, and, I so hope!, develop a heart of openness and generosity of spirit. And for the young person discovering their own discomfort in the body they arrived in, Amanda can become a not-so fictional friend.
I hope many people read this treasure and share it!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
nicole hanson
I read this book in 2 days, which is rare for me. It's a debut novel and therefore I found some writing elements to be weak, but this story is SO. SO. IMPORTANT.

I think anyone, regardless of their age or identity would get something valuable out of this book. This book is intended for readers who are cis, trans, and anyone in between. You may see yourself in Amanda, or you may see yourself in her peers or parents.

This would be such an important teaching tool for parents to discuss the flashback chapters with very young children, for teens to see themselves or their peers in, and for adults to reflect on how they do/would interact with trans youth. I loved that the family dynamic was just as important as the friend group and the romantic relationship.

Don't skip the author's note at the back of the book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
dennis dallaglio
I want to preface this by saying I'm cisgender and this is my first experience reading about a trans girl.

I'm a complete mixed bag about this novel. I loved reading it, I read it in just one day. I liked the love interest and the friendship groups. I felt for Amanda, I cringed at what people said to her and at their actions towards her. I flew through this book. I loved the characters, the issues were important, and Amanda's reactions to life events felt to me like real outcomes. And at this point I was thinking "That was so close to a perfect read. I can see how all those things could happen to her. 4.5 stars!" and then I sat to digest it and then I came across some issues.

I had to keep reminding myself that it's set in the South of America, but then I wondered why was that important to remember for my reading experience? Is it purely set in the South because it's well known that they are less accepting of the LGBTQIA+ community, so it was ok for Amanda to have social injustices occurring to her and it made the story and people's actions justifiably allowed? By setting this in the South I felt it lead to a very predictable outcome. And then I got to thinking about if this book as set in New York or somewhere more accepting what would Amanda's story look like then? Are people inclusive? Would a high school experience be the same anywhere? Are some kids just dicks regardless of community beliefs?

Anyway so I finished the book, feeling good for what and who Amanda had in her life. But then I read the authors note. And I got sour. And I mean SOUR. Firstly Russo splits the notes into cisgendered readers and trans readers and then has the audacity to tell cispeople; "I have in some ways, cleaved to stereotypes and even bent the rules to make Amanda's trans-ness as unchallenging to normative assumptions as possible" and "I wanted you to have no barrier to understanding Amanda as a teenage girl with a different medical history from most other girls". And I got angry. Is this book supposed to be a stepping stone for cisgender readers? A little dip in the pond to see if we can handle these topics? And why? Why can't cisgenders read a story about a trans character that's a real, fully accurate, no tailoring, experience? I then started to question what's the purpose of #OwnVoices if it's not an accurate, true portrayal? If I was your Girl felt like a mash-up of 17 different trans experiences and then cut and polished to resemble something that the author feels cisgenders want to read. And I'm sorry but I felt like that was pandering to the audience, dumbing it down to suit the masses, and overall made me feel like cisgenders couldn't cope with a true story. Again, what's the point in #OwnVoices if it's not accurate? I think the author's notes were patronising, unnecessary and undermined and invalidated the story she worked so hard to create.

On a separate note I'd like to turn to publishing houses and put out a friendly reminder that they are responsible for identifying the target audience, and sometimes that entails making a book a NA or a 15+ readers warning. These are the two covers for If I was your Girl, the UK (Usborne) and US (FlatIron) editions. The UK one has pretty blues and pink, it's bubbly and it's juvenile. The US one (and kudos) features a trans model, but the overall feel of the cover is that it's to a slightly older audience than the first.
As, If I was your Girl features scenes that include suicide, rape, drug overdosing and recreational drug use, I feel the need to point out that this book should not be marketed to younger audiences and that maybe publishers need to be aware (and protective) of misleading people into believing this book is intended for younger readers.

So in summary, as stated previously I wanted to give this 4.5 stars but after digesting it overnight and reading and rereading the author's note I've dropped my rating to a 3/5. A terrific book, featuring important issues, spoiled by an unnecessary author's note. That's a first for me!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
karla lizardo
After taking a year off to transition, Amanda moves to her dad's small town to finish high school. Her plan is to graduate and get as far away as she can. She doesn't expect to make friends or fall in love, but Lambertville turns out to be the kind of place that welcomes a girl like her--or a girl like the girl everyone thinks she is. The story alternates between Amanda's present and slices of her past, in childhood, as a young teen, and as she begins to transition. I was immediately hooked on her story. It's a simply told but utterly compelling emotional biography. Russo writes an important afterword for cis and trans readers explaining some of her narrative choices. I hope IF I WAS YOUR GIRL ends up in libraries & schools everywhere.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book is so good on so many levels. It's in many ways a classic "feel good" YA contemporary romance ... an escapist read with just enough drama to keep you thoroughly entertained. And the characters, ahhh, I loved all these characters so much! I'm so glad that there is a story with a trans girl MC, and that it's just so thoroughly enjoyable. It could have felt like an "issue book" and it IS, and is extremely valuable in that sense, but it doesn't *feel* like an issue book, if that makes sense. It's just a really really good book, and I read it all in one sitting and will definitely be recommending it a ton!!! It does end on a bit of a cliffhanger, but in a sort of satisfying way that really makes this book an outstanding stand-alone (though I wouldn't mind a sequel! *hint hint*)
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
peter mathews
This is a well-written young adult novel. Amanda has moved in with her father for her senior year of high school after an incident in her home town occurred. She wants to just be a normal teenage girl, which is a newish thing for her because she is transgender and didn't have that sort of life where everyone had known her as Andrew. The book simplifies some aspects of being transgender, but it is still a good story that shows what it can be like. Amanda also has her first boyfriend, Grant, who does not know she is transgender. I think the book does a good job of showing what a parent of a transgender child goes through as well. I enjoyed the story and I think that teens will enjoy it too.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Meredith Russo’s IF I WAS YOUR GIRL is a gripping and provocative account of a young transgender girl struggling to affirm her identity in a world that doesn’t understand her. Eighteen-year-old Amanda Hardy was born a boy, but she always knew she was supposed to be a girl. In school she was bullied ruthlessly, and at home she dealt with her father’s disappointment and disapproval (resulting in her parents’ eventual divorce). As the novel begins, Amanda has had her surgery and she is relocating from Smyrna, Georgia to Lambertville, Tennessee to live with her father (who is trying to accept her as his daughter). Her goal is to begin her new life among people who have never known her as Andrew. She will have the chance to make friends who will accept her as one of them, and she will fall in love with Grant. But none of them will know the truth. Russo is asking us whether it’s ever possible to be your true self without revealing who you really are.

Amanda is a wonderful and believable character – she’s bright and strong and braver than I ever would have been at 18. The novel switches back and forth between her experiences at her new school and her past life as a boy determined to change his gender identity. Amanda post-surgery is at first nervous and unsure of herself – will the people she meets in Lambertville really accept her as a girl, or will everyone suspect the truth? In a way, she’s still hiding, even though she’s finally living her life as the person she’s always known she was. But Andrew in the past was always torn between the reality of his external self and the truth about his inner identity. Some of what happens to Andrew is difficult to read, but it’s also revealing and affirming. The world we live isn’t particularly open to those of us who are different, especially if our differences threaten their own belief in so-called normalcy. This is a truth Amanda must come to grips with, as she wonders how much of herself to keep hidden, and how much to reveal, especially to the boy she loves.

This is an important book that can help young people understand that they don’t need to be afraid of differences. In IF I WAS YOUR GIRL, Amanda learns that all people have secrets, even the girls she grows close to and the boy she comes to love. We all hide things. But the world is so much better – and our lives are much more meaningful and fulfilling – if we can share our true selves with those we care about. And if those we care about can accept us for who we really are.

I respect Russo’s effort to write a book that can help transgender teens feel affirmed and accepted, while also helping gay, straight, and lesbian teens embrace their own differences. Russo admits (in a brief afterward) that Amanda’s life and circumstances are not the norm for transgender teens – she easily and quickly “passes” as a very attractive female, her mother manages to pay for her very expensive surgery and drug regimen, and both of her parents (even her father, eventually) are more accepting than most Southerners would be. Russo didn’t want the focus of her story to be on those obstacles, but rather on Amanda’s own personal struggle to be herself, with or without secrets. And in that, this novel totally succeeds.

I do have two quibbles, such as they are. First, Russo’s attempt to make her characters sound “Southern” wasn’t a big success with me. The majority of the teen characters in the novel use consistently bad grammar (i.e. “ain’t” and “it don’t matter”). These are high school students who seem reasonably intelligent, and it seems odd to me that they would speak this way. It also seems odd to me that Amanda didn’t speak this way – she’s a Southern teen, too, but her grammar was fine. If Southern kids routinely use “ain’t,” why doesn’t Amanda?

Finally, I was a bit disappointed in the ending, which feels abrupt and leaves the reader in the dark about what might ultimately happen to Amanda. But it’s a very real and believable ending – positive and upbeat, without any “happily ever after” platitudes. While I would have liked to know more about how Amanda’s life eventually plays out, I can accept not knowing. It’s not a deal breaker.

Bottom line, this is YA novel for teens on the verge of adulthood. The subject matter is definitely provocative, but it’s exactly what today’s teens need to read. I highly recommend it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
You know books people say are great just because they're so necessary in concept and premise, but then the execution and/or style kinda suck but no one wants to admit it?

This is not that.

I legit loved it, from the dedication to the author's note to the book itself, and will be recommending it forever. So happy to finally have a trans book by a trans author in YA from a big publisher, and the fact that there's even trans rep on the cover is just the perfect icing. Amanda is a great MC, the secondary characters are nicely done, and I really, really loved how involved her parents were, past and present. Just...so happy this book is a thing right now.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
catherine drumm
It's hard to describe exactly what this book means to me. It's sweet and wonderful and brutal and honest, and I'm absolutely thrilled to have been able to read it. The characters are all wonderfully human, relatable and believeable, and will stick in my heart for a long, long time to come.

Please read this book. Read it with your kids, read it with your friends, but definitely, definitely read this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
marcela maldonado
This book seems to be aimed at the Young Adult market, but I enjoyed reading it, even though I'm about sixty years older than the target audience. The plotting was very well done, with interesting twists, and the characters were well-rounded and seemed to be typical of today's high schoolers (I admit that some of the cultural references sailed over my head). People are becoming more and more aware of gender as a spectrum, rather than a binary opposition, to a degree that would have been unthinkable even a couple of years ago, and the book appears at a timely moment. The knowledge that it is partly autobiographical added additional relevance. Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jo ann godshall
Wow. This book. It really opened my eyes about what being trans is like. This book actually made me feel like I was Amanda while reading it because it is so well written. I was crying pretty much the whole time while reading the last 50 pages or so.

So much about this book broke my heart (especially the flashbacks), but there were also so many parts that made me so happy for Amanda. I loved her Dad’s character arc as well as her Mom’s character as a whole. I really enjoyed reading about Amanda and Grant’s relationship as well. Overall, this is a really powerful book that I think everyone should read whether you are trans or not. Anyone can learn something from Amanda’s story.

TRIGGER WARNING: there is an upsetting “outing” scene that may be traumatic for some readers.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
IF I WAS YOUR GIRL is, without a doubt, one of the best novels I've read this year. One of the best that I have ever read. It encompasses the complete spectrum of human emotion, and within less than a page, I was in love with Amanda Hardy and wished I could stand by her side as she battled her demons.

The book has an ambiguous ending, leaving it up to you to imagine or decide what happens with Amanda and Grant and all the other characters. But the AUTHOR'S NOTE at the end was the perfect closing to the story. It is the perfect final touch to a story that burrows into your soul and stays there.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is such a well written story. I listened to the audio version from the Anchorage Public Library, and I learned so much about what really happens in a girl like Amanda's life. I don't give a 5 rating very often, but this book definitely deserves it! As the author shares in the final pages, I feel that I got to know Amanda and it has given me an opportunity "to pursue an ever broader understanding" of gender and sex. Thank you.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
roger miller
I think it's important for LGBTQ young adults to have literature like this, that represents them and tells their stories. I think it's important for hetero-cisgender allies to read these kind of stories as well. I fell in love with Amanda and was cheering for her happiness.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mary preston
I really had no idea what this book was about when I downloaded it from the library. I loved it! I think it took me about 3 days to read, normally it takes me 6. I was definately rooting for the main character the whole time. This book just shows how cruel we can be as a society to punish others for our own insecurities. This is a must read!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mamoun sinaceur
First let me start by saying kuddos and praise to Meredith Russo for her bravery. I learned a lot reading this book. Many of us are blind to people like Meredith, The main Character Amanda and the beautiful girl on the cover. We forget that they are human and beautiful and know who they are. I now have great respect for them all.

This book was an insightful page Turner. Great debut novel and a must read for teens and adults.

Amanda's struggles from day one were real and she fought through them the best she could
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
At times the stereotypes and oversimplifications in the book were hard for me to read, but overall I think it is a very important book for continuing the conversation about the origins of gender.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
elizabeth traviss
As a cisgender adult I was really nervous that anything I could write in a review of IF I WAS YOUR GIRL would be the wrong thing. But when I read the blurb this book called to me deeply, I had to read it, and when I did, I desperately wanted to tell everyone I could how much of an emotional response I had to it.

In many ways this was one of the most painful novels I've ever read. As a parent, I could relate to both Amanda's mother and father. Their fears and foibles, but also, their deep love for their daughter. I don't want to spoil scenes but there was a moment with her mother that was absolutely devastating to read because I could both understand her mother's grief and also how it affected Amanda. I found Amanda's growth into her own womanhood, her relationship with Grant, and how her transition had changed her privilege from that of a male very engrossing.

As I read I found myself wondering at times how much of Amanda's story fudged on the details a bit for the sake of story and Russo has a wonderful note at the end that I felt explained her choices well and made me feel better about my own reactions to this novel. Because, put simply, I loved this book deeply. So often we see trans characters used for humor, shown as freaks, and facing the horrific side of the world. While there are certainly moments of darkness that I believe are probably accurate for many, IIWYG is a much more positive and ultimately hopeful story. And though I certainly think stories that reflect the sad truths of what trans teens face are important too, having one where readers can see a trans teen overcome and find acceptance, love, and hope, is equally important.

IIWYG was an emotional tug-of-war from beginning to end. Amanda is a character I will never, ever forget and her story is one I want to share with everyone who has ever struggled with suicidal thoughts and finding acceptance. It's heartfelt, hopeful, and just a really good read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This is such an important book. When I first heard about this book, I immediately wanted to read it. I’ve been looking for books that are innovative, smart, and diverse, and IF I WAS YOUR GIRL is a perfect collection of all three. I liked the main character Amanda, and even in the parts where the story did drag a bit, I kept reading because I wanted to know what happened to her and where her story led. The other characters were a bit flat, but one of the highlights of this novel was the relationship that Amanda and her dad came to have. Really glad I picked this one up!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
A beautifully written, YA contemporary romance in which Amanda, the trans protagonist, is both pretty and popular and goes out with a hot, nice football player. Talk about hope! This seemingly simple story is a Hall of Hope win-win, simultaneously showing trans youth that all narrative through-lines are possible and cis youth that trans youth are more than just political discourse and stories you hear on the news. I loved the humanity here: both the quirky, surprising Southern characters and the story itself. I can’t wait for more from Russo!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jordyn kline
*I won this book in a giveaway on goodreads*
I absolutely love this book, I was so captivated from the first chapter, it gives you a real insight into the lives of transgender teens and what some of them go through on a daily basis.
This book gave me a roller coaster of emotions, Some parts made me laugh, others made me cry but in the end it was all worth it.
The main character is so strong and I admire her so damn much for getting through so much.
I recommend this book to everyone, they will totally fall in love.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Wow! Meredith Russo is an author to watch! If I Was Your Girl has everything you could ever ask for in a young adult book: great writing, a convincing dilemma, and solid character development. Forget that this book is about a trans character, because people of all ages can relate to the main character's struggles--of fitting in, of keeping secrets, of fearing what people think of you. I give 5 solid stars to this book, and I look forward to anything and everything Meredith Russo writes in the future.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
max elman
This was a beautiful intimate story that more people should read. These things are happening every single and we need to let people who are going through this know they have support. I will always fight for your right to be your true self. Wonderfully written. I look forward to more from this author.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Amanda's story is one that deserves to be on all shelves. It is a special book that tackles a topic we haven't really seen in young adult literature - or literature in general: a trans girl gets a romance. Not a tragic/death/sick/beatup romance, but a lovely sweet DESERVED romance. Amanda and Grant together are lovely and I enjoyed that they fell in love over the course of the book. <3 I hope this book wins a Lambda award nomination or something bc yeah YEAH YOU, YOU SHOULD READ THIS ONE!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
raheel khan
4.5 stars. Amanda is just like every other girl, going to a new school, feeling shy, wanting to make friends and be accepted.

Except she was born Andrew, not Amanda. This is a very thought-provoking, well-written YA story about the journey of a teenager who ALWAYS imagined herself as a woman, when grown. If, given the homophobia and transphobia that has already almost cost her life, she lives to do so.

As stated in the afterword, the author herself is trans, and the story is idealized in some ways. Amanda's parents struggle somewhat with her transition, but ultimately support it, and she is even able to get bottom surgery as a teenager, which is probably not "doable" for most trans teens because of finances. She not only "passes," she's very pretty and the subject of some jealousy. Most of the people in her new life, at her new school, also accept and stand by Amanda wholeheartedly - after some stumbles. Perhaps not wholly realistic.

But it's no more unbelievable than a story involving vampires or superpowers, and a lot more heart-warming. Highly recommend.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
marc ensign
Amanda is one character you won't forget. She carries this well written YA novel. The story is beautifully told and deeply engrossing. It's a lot more than a Summer or beach read. It's an important and very feeling book. It's a must especially for teen girls, but it's a worthwhile book for everyone, including adults, to read. It gives a very deep understanding of the main character.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jennifer zimny
Great read that manages to bring a lighthearted air while tackling serious ground. While the character's life tends to the idyllic, that's what fiction does at times, and there's nothing wrong with that (especially when you're trying to convey point and message in an easily digestible way). Either way, it's a nice change of pace to read something that reflects a life that's not CIS-het.

As an aside, I found the author's note after to be endearing, and appreciate her share of talent as well as her heartfelt words. We can't leave our little LGBT kin out there without letting them know they're worthy, deserving, enough, and loved. Books like this can help go a long way to making sure the next generation knows this beyond a shadow of a doubt.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
courtney d avella
There are so many universal truths in this book - a beautiful young-adult love story and friendship struggles. All kids can relate to Amanda in this story. I can feel the real-life experiences which guided the author's decisions on what to include in the book. I'm glad it is receiving well-deserved attention and awards.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book is incredible. As a cis reader and trans ally I felt the author taught me to see things from this new perspective that I couldn't have imagined myself, however empathic I imagine myself to be. To be able to hear it and experience it from this insider perspective gave me so much more understanding than I could have thought possible. This should be required reading.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mark arnold
Excellent writing, authentic voice, this book provides an important window for many to better understand the experience of trans teens. Even more crucial, it provides a mirror for trans teens themselves--an opportunity to see that life may be far from perfect, but it can still be good.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kimberly white
​If I Was Your Girl is a different coming of age story and coming to terms with who you truly are inside. Deep inside all of us is just the need to be accepted regardless of who we are. Meredith Russo gives us an easy to like heroine in Amanda. Not an edge of your seat thriller but a page turner none the less.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
barbara r saunders
Phenomenal story about a transgender girl starting over by moving in with her estranged father. Intense, powerful and emotion, it is above all hopeful.

And that flashback scene to middle school, where Amanda writes that time travel story about visiting herself in the future...damn.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I am an almost 40 year old who loves to read YA books. While I know very little on the subject or transgender teens, this book was very interesting. It's fiction of course, but it really opened my eyes to what a transgendered child may go through. It kept me interested which made for a quick read! Very much enjoyed it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is an important book, as it deftly humanizes the emotions, yearnings and fears of a transgender girl, and so should make anyone with a heart empathetic, if not sympathetic. And it's well written and engaging,
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book is beautiful, important and very entertaining. It's been a while since a book got me so hooked. It's definitely one of my new favorite book ever.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I loved every page of this book, it was beautifully done. The romance, the characters pulled at my heart. Only complaint I have is I didn't want the book to end.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I normally do not get emotional in books, but this one got me. I actually had to stop reading it in class because I was afraid that I would cry. The tension throughout the book was palpable, and I absolutely loved the ending. Well done
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mar a
A coming of age story, a trans teen finds love and friendship, when she least expected it! It is a beautiful book with a beautiful cover and so many readers (other than young readers) will benefit from reading it! I wish I could give more than 5 stars!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This accessible story of one transgender person's experience is a great starting point for people, myself included, becoming familiar with the idea of genders and sexualities that don't conform to what is presented to us in a heteronormative world. The authors note at the end is particularly vital to read and important. Thank you!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
***I received this book as a gift in exchange for an honest review

If I Was Your Girl is important and necessary in educating others about difference and all the many wonderful variations that color our world.


There are some truly beautiful and profound moments that will make your heart feel so full and bursting with happiness and sadness. Mourning. It’s not something that many people think of from an outsider’s perspective. The loss of a former identity that someone never wanted, but was a forced reality because of gender assumptions. There’s a scene where, after surgery, Amanda’s mother is looking through photographs and crying about the loss of her son, as if he died. In a way, he did. This hit me really hard because you don’t really think about how this feels to a mother. Not off-hand at least. Russo pairs this with a celebration, a rebirth of sorts, because Amanda is FINALLY becoming the person she was always meant to be, even if her sex said otherwise. This scene was bittersweet and so refreshing-hopeful. That all parents could be so accepting and loving. There are also offhand statements that are so blunt, and said so casually they’re jarring, but reveal the bleak reality of just how much trans individuals suffer through. There’s a line near the end about cutting off hair and being buried in a suit, and my heart literally stopped, it was just so horribly tragic and upsetting.

Being accepted as a woman is like a revelation for Amanda, and validates her decision. She’s who she was always meant to be, and though she fears letting anyone know about her past, embracing her agency as a woman is an awakening and continuous experience for Amanda. Coupled with first love, it is written so honestly, so fresh. Amanda is confused and conflicted. Her feelings are so hopeful and uplifting, you’ll want to bask in the purity of this new love. Letting herself love fully, Amanda is insanely courageous, not just as a trans individual or a woman, but as a human.

The author gets the narrative from multiple sides without switching POVs. From the main character, to her classmates, to how her parents, and the community feel, it all comes together to create a vibrant picture of the adversity and assumptions that are made about people who are different. The fear that parents feel for their children, it’s gripping and brutal and heartbreaking that parents should have to feel so scared beyond the normal fear for their children, but that there are people filled with so much hate that are searching for people to make an example out of.

The diary scene. My heart shattered.

Read the author’s note and the dedications. Trust me.


Scenes ended abruptly and events were summarized briefly in the next chapter. I felt let down by this sharp transition, I wanted more. I would have liked to have been shown, not told about what happened.

Connections between characters were loose. While you can see the blossoming of friendships, romance, and other variations, the moments together are so brief and fleeting that it doesn’t solidify into anything more than surface. It’s like you’re watching from the outside and the emotions are not as potent as they could have been. On one hand, it’s understandable because Amanda is scared. She’s never had friends, she doesn’t know who to trust, and she has been wronged so many times in the past that letting people see the real her is terrifying and withholding the truth is a defense mechanism.

While I loved Amanda’s build up of affection for Grant, the moments were short, stunted, and full of drama. I felt a little disconnected from the situation (this also has to do with scenes getting cut off). It also felt like it was moving crazy fast. One minute just hanging out, the next clothing removal. It was hard to grasp the amount of time passing in sections that weren’t specifically labeled with year and date, so it felt like only a week or two before full-blown love.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ronald cheng
I think this book would be a good way to start a transgender dialogue. I enjoyed Amanda as a character and enjoyed the book, even though it was not a topic I would usually read about.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I love this different love story. It was a good book that made me feel for all the actors in this tale even if I haven't been in their skin or situations. I liked everything except the end. The author should definitely continue their story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rina suryakusuma
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I keep seeing this book everywhere. It takes a topic that has been avoided and does a nice job making it a story that readers will want to read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book should be required reading in every high school in America (as should the author's note at the end.) Beautiful, smart, and so urgently needed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
An amazing look into a world that many don't understand. Amanda is an amazing character and watching her journey really opened my eyes.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
stefani jessica
I LOVED THIS BOOK! Three things I didn't like: 1. drug use 2. that the novel ended. 3. the title (subjunctive needed)

There were so many good lines from this book. The characters were beautiful and complicated. The writing is smart and supportive. When help was needed it was either sought out or given which is so important because readers need to know that there is hope for whatever problem they're experiencing.

The author's note brought tears to my eyes.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I’ll admit, I was thrown off at first, having not realized what this book was about. It did make me uncomfortable at times but I realized that was because of me. Great, eye-opening, stop and think book
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Powerful, affecting, beautifully written--just a great read, overall. I finished this wonderful book in two sittings. Highly recommended!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sherry sandler
This is a beautifull coming of age story, precisely describing common challenges when being transgender. The story is mainly suitable for young adults. It is a quick but touching novel.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
If I Was Your Girl
Meredith Russo

What it's all about...

This is a book about Andrew/Amanda...a transgender person. Andrew has had so many sad heartbreaking problems while living with his mom that he is now living with his dad as Amanda. His life with his dad is awkward.

Why I wanted to read it...

I actually didn't realize this was a book about a transgender teen until I actually had it in my hands. It was eye opening, kind of informative and also kind of sad.

What made me truly enjoy this book...

It was interesting living in Amanda's shoes...for a while. She was afraid, worried, conflicted and then ultimately learned what she needed to know about herself.

Why you should read it, too...

Readers who are close to this topic or readers who want to know more about this topic should really benefit from reading this book. The author is a transgender person so this book is written from her heart.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
david hack
Amazing story! If I Was Your Girl was a gripping read from beginning to end. I could not put it down. Such an important story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
As advertised
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jose politino
*I won an ARC of this book from Goodreads giveaways*
Ever since I read the premise for this book, I was a goner. I had never read anything like it or close to it and I was super excited to see how things like these were executed.
This book follows a transgender character by the name of Amanda. She was born as an Andrew and never felt comfortable in her skin as a boy. We meet her after she had gone through her surgery. After some problems in her hometown, she moves in with her dad to escape it all and that's where everything starts. She goes to a new school, meets new friends, there's a guy she's interested in, and more.
Off the bat, I was excited for nothing else but the romance and how it was going to play out with Amanda's unique situation. The romance is what I always look forward to in a book and sadly, this book could've done without it. I can't believe I'm saying that but it's true, at least for me. I wasn't a fan of how anything went down between the two of them. If I'm not a fan of how the 'relationship' starts, I will most likely never be a fan of it. That was the case here. I felt like it was too insta-love and I couldn't get on board with it, no matter how hard I tried. Especially since the guy didn't impress me whatsoever. And since a lot of this book was focuses on it, it didn't make reading it a fun experience.
This book was very cliche at times and it was told in alternative present and past experiences. I didn't believe some of the things that happened, besides the romance. I felt like I didn't have enough 'evidence' in order to believe them, so I just set them aside and let it go.
With that said, I was a huge fan of everything else. The 3 stars I'm giving it are because of the non-romance aspects. I loved being in Amanda's mind and following along as the situations with those around her changed, for the best or for the worst. I loved her relationship with her mother and I absolutely loved the friends she made at her new school as well. I felt happy for Amanda for finally finding the people she should've been surrounded with from the start. The ending was a a pretty proud moment for Amanda and I approved 100%. All in all, I enjoyed this book a lot. It's not a favorite, but it also wasn't terrible. I need to read more books with a similar premise asap!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I appreciated hearing this story. I understand it was a very clear cut narrative and life is not that way, but I did like having emotions tied to events that I can learn from.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book was beautiful. Well written and Amanda definitely touched my soul.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
becky till
Read tis ook and I liked it becauseits talking about your personality. I think its telling you to be who ever you want to be no matter what anyone thinks or does or says.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Loved it! Amazing book, amazing author!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kenley caldwell
I honestly did not realize this book was transgender when I chose to read it. I guess I missed the last line of the book's details, but I am glad I read it. Well written and informative
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jacob dougherty
What a pleasure it is to read a book about a trans girl, written by a trans woman, with a happy ending.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
andrea pavlik
Loved this book. So necessary.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
nikole boyda mcguinness
Pretty interesting story about a young man named Andrew who wishes he was a girl, and his journey into becoming one, being accepted, and loving himself. He/She falls in love with a boy named Grant at his high school and keeps it a secret that he is a transitioning male. I enjoyed it for the most part, but like others have said on the reviews, it was kind of "too sweet" and "too good" of a story.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
short lady
Sickening... negative stars if I could.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
karla webb
I'm giving this a one-star because there is nothing in my browsing history or household demographic that remotely suggests there would be an interest in a transgender love story. Get it together the store.
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