Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school in Lambertville, Tennessee. Like any other girl, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. There’s a reason why she transferred schools for her senior year, and why she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.
And then she meets Grant Everett. Grant is unlike anyone she’s ever met—open, honest, kind—and Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself…including her past. But she’s terrified that once she tells Grant the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.
Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew.
Rating: 4 Stars
I was very happy to finally pick this book up. The writing style was pleasing, the story had me from the beginning, and the ending had me questioning things in a satisfactory way.
Meredith Russo states in her author’s note that while Amanda’s story in this novel has realistic aspects, it was highly stylized so that it would be more accessible to cishet readers. I appreciated that she wrote the book keeping in mind that a lot of cishet readers might not understand the transgender experience so made the effort to make the story more accessible. It also made me a little sad that it was necessary, but it’s a stepping point, so I can accept that.
While Amanda may have been able to access medical care and certain other things more easily that someone of her situation would in real life, it didn’t diminish the power of her story. The author was able to convey a lot of her story and information about her case without being explicit. I was pleased with this because I had questions pop up that might have been awkward to state outright, but she anticipated that and found a way to give me as a reader the answers.
There were a lot of moments in the story that made my stomach feel as though it were in knots. Knowing what Amanda had been through and anticipating what was going to happen, either because of her own actions or those of the new friends she was making, had me on edge. I wanted to read more and more until I got to the end because I cared about these characters, about Amanda and her mother and father; about Grant, Virginia, and even Bee, angry as I got with her at one point.
Ordinarily I dislike standalone novels that don’t have clear endings because I feel like if this is the only chance I’m going to have to meet and understand these characters, then the story should wrap up so that I won’t be left wondering what is happening to them at the end. If I Was Your Girl might be the book that starts the change in my mind about that. There was a clear climax in the story and declining action, but the the decline never really hit a plateau. Amanda’s story doesn’t end here, there isn’t a clear plan for where it’s going to go from here, and while that might have frustrated me in the past, I think it fits for her.
She learned a great many things while living in Lambertville with her father. She met Grant, she made friends with Layla, Anna, and Chloe, and she even found the strength within herself to return to school after certain events. She learns that she deserves love, that it is alright for her to love. This is a beginning for her and while I am going to think from time to time where Amanda might be, whether she gets into and attends NYU or some other college, I think the wondering, the possibility, speaks to the enormity of the future she has before her.
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