ARC Review: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo


if i wasGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

Release Date: May 3, 2016

syn

A big-hearted novel about being seen for who you really are.

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. She’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him in. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself–including her past. But Amanda’s terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew.

Will the truth cost Amanda her new life–and her new love?

If I Was Your Girl is a universal story about feeling different–and a love story that everyone will root for.

review

3/5 Stars

***I received this ARC as a gift via Goodreads First.

+++Contains triggers for: assault, suicide, hate crimes, violence

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

PROS:

  • 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.

CONS:

  • 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.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Read on, 

Jordan

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