First let me say, “Oh my goodness.” I wanted to read this book because it got good reviews immediately out of the gate. I wanted to read this book because I wanted some insight into a life of which I had very little understanding, but a general acceptance. I expected that it would be good, but I had no idea that it would affect me the way it did. If I Was Your Girl simultaneously broke my heart and brought me joy.
I didn’t need time to get into this book, it sucked me in right away. The writing was casual and brilliantly executed. It opened with a very strong scene about Amanda’s fear of her past being discovered. It showed her relief to finally be who she was, but also her discovery that her new identity came with its own set of issues.
At times I was so sad for Amanda that I had to put the book down for a day. Otherwise I might have finished it in a weekend. At one point Russo carefully displayed Amanda’s experience as a little boy who didn’t understand why his parents and teachers viewed what he was feeling as wrong. I cried. I wondered if I was doing anything to discourage my kids from loving who they are. Like I said, it broke my heart.
I feel very strongly that books are the key to understanding another person’s journey. If you’re not trans, don’t be afraid to pick up If I Was Your Girl because you think it will offend you. There’s nothing graphic in this book. It’s not propaganda to get you to jump over to the other side (I’m pretty sure that’s not even a possible thing). It’s just a story about a girl trying to be comfortable in her own skin. And it’s a love story about acceptance. It’s a story anyone can relate to.
P.S. Meredith Russo used creative license to tell Amanda’s story, as she explains in the afterword. I encourage you to not skip the Note from the Author at the end. It’s very important.