If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo is a compelling coming of age novel about a transgender girl trying to find her way in the world. Amanda Hardy (born Andrew) goes to live with her father, whom she has been estranged from since transitioning, after she is severely beaten in the bathroom at the mall in Lambertville, where her mom lived. After moving in with her dad and starting a new school, Amanda integrates herself into the “popular” girls’ group with all the boys fawning over her. At the new school, she meets another girl named Bee, whom she also becomes friends with and begins dating a boy named Grant (who she tries to tell the truth to, but he says he doesn’t need to know all her secrets).
The novel proceeds with Amanda’s new life, where she finally feels like she belongs, while flashing back to her earlier years before the beating in the mall. From the flashbacks, we learn that Amanda had attempted suicide the year before the beating, and we also learn about the mental struggles she dealt with in the earlier years.
During one of Bee and Amanda’s conversations, Amanda learns that Bee is bi-sexual, and feeling that she can trust Bee, confides in her that she is transsexual. Everything seems to finally be going well for Amanda when a drunk Bee reveals the truth about Amanda during the homecoming dance. Because of this revelation, Amanda is attacked again. At the end, Amanda finally is able to find her true self-worth and love who she has become. (I left out quite a lot as to not spoil it for others)
This book was a great read, and I really enjoyed it. It showed what transgender people can go through and how they have a hard time dealing with the way society treats them. It also showed that everyone, no matter your race, gender, or sexual orientation are all looking for the same thing: to be accepted and loved. I think this book would be great for older students to read (as there are a few sexual parts, though nothing graphic). It would be good for students to understand what transgender youths go through, and it would also be good for transgender students to read, to show that they are not alone and they too deserve to have a great life and healthy love. I think this book sends a positive message and has great educational value.
Forever…. by Judy Blume
The second book I finished reading this past week was Forever… by Judy Blume. Forever… is a coming of age book dealing with adolescent sexuality. The story revolves around Katherine (Kat) and Michael, two teens who fall in love during their senior year in high school after meeting at a New Year’s Eve party. Their relationship is followed throughout the story, starting with the innocence of dating and then to the issue of a sexual relationship. Kat’s confidant and best friend, Erica views sex as more of a physical thing and feels Kat should just “get it out of the way”. Kat on the other hand, views sex more emotionally, and takes a slower approach with Michael. The book follows the two as they discover the depths of their relationship and whether or not they will be together Forever….
This was my “re-read” book from when I was a teen. I remember reading this book as a junior in high school, and after re-reading the book, I think I probably should have been older than that to read it! I knew that the book contained sexual scenes, but re-reading it now, there where more of these parts then I had remembered. Overall, I didn’t think the story was that intriguing. I’m sure that the reason I remembered it as a teen was because that would have been a time when relationship issues were coming to the forefront of teenage minds. This book has been continually targeted on censorship lists, and I can understand why. It is definitely not a book I would recommend for any student under the age of 17, and honestly, it probably should be for teens 18 and up. It does deal with an issue that all (or almost all) teens face in their lives, but with the graphic descriptions in this book, it would not be one that should be read by just any teen.