I recently participated in the Dumbledore’s Army Readathon in which I planned on reading several #ownvoices titles. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to secure those books from the library in time. Still, I wanted to read them so when I got the change to pick them up at the library I took it!
I’ve been hearing a lot about If I Was Your Girl – on twitter, on Goodreads, and from other book bloggers. It’s the story of a trans teen girl, written by a trans woman.
Amanda Hardy moves to a new town, to live with her dad. She wants the chance to live as herself in a community that doesn’t know of her past. She wants to live a life without fear or prejudice.
Like all teenage girls, Amanda finds new friends at her new school. She also meets Grant, a handsome boy who makes her heart flutter. But Amanda also struggles with her desire for them to know about her past. She wants them to know her and to accept her, but she fears their true reactions.
This fear was an undercurrent throughout the whole novel. I don’t generally read contemporary fiction, YA or not, but I really enjoyed this book. Despite Amanda’s fears, she’s a normal teenager. The novel is generally lighthearted, with flashbacks and tense moments of fear or sadness that really bring the story to life.
It was wonderful to read a story about trans lives that doesn’t encompass only tragedy, and the author herself addresses that very fact in her note at the end of the novel.
I thought that Amanda was a very likeable character, and I enjoyed the progression of her relationship with her father. I also really liked the side characters – Amanda’s friends were an interesting group. I liked Bee’s brash refusal to be anything but herself, and her unexpected endgame in the book. I also really liked Anna and her struggle with her faith and her very strict parents.
Amanda’s relationship with Grant was the essential teenage puppy love, and it was sweet to read about. Grant’s background and the secrets he was keeping really helped flesh him out as a character.
All in all, I think this is a book that anyone can read and enjoy. If you’re looking for a book with a trans character whose life is perhaps slightly easier and happier than I would expect (especially in the South), then this is the one for you. If you’re looking to understand a little more about how being trans affects your life, this is also the book for you – though perhaps taken with a grain of salt. (The author’s note at the back is certainly a necessary read.)
Have you read this novel – what are your thoughts? Can you recommend any other books with trans main characters? Let me know in the comments below!