I love books that open my eyes, books that tell stories that are outside my experience, especially ones where the characters come to life on the page. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo is one of those books.
I knew when I purchased it that it was written by a transgender woman about a transgender teenage girl. That’s why I chose it. I wanted to better understand. And I’m happy to say that If I Was Your Girl did so much more than that.
Bouncing between Amanda Hardy’s pre-transition life and her post-transition life (where her body caught up to her reality), the story conjured in me an enormous sympathy. At one point, after taking her first hormone treatment, Amanda lets herself “dream of how good life could be every now and then.”
Every now and then?! How heartbreaking that a good life “every now and then” was the most she could hope for. I have no doubt that a lot of people—not just teens—can relate to that, even if they can’t relate to Amanda’s specific experiences.
So, yeah, I felt for Amanda, but I also sympathized with her parents. Their reactions and attitudes felt very real to me, and I understood the fear that influenced all their decisions. As Amanda’s father said to her, “Everything that made you happy, from the way you wanted to walk to the toys you wanted to the way you wanted to dress… it put you in danger.”
If I Was Your Girl is about a girl who doesn’t want to disappear anymore, who takes charge of her life and learns to love herself. That’s the kind of character journey that tugs at my heart and makes the story still resonate long after I’ve finished the book.