If I Was Your Girl

book-review-2

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!

if-i-was-your-girl

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!

Son of a Trickster

book-review-2

Last year, I read only one magical realism novel and I lamented the fact that I hadn’t found more. This year, I’m starting with one in the hopes that it will bring more my way! Wishful thinking, maybe, but it certainly can’t hurt.

son-of-a-trickster

First, much thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me the chance to read this fantastic book pre-publication!

Son of a Trickster will be published on February 7th, and it certainly fits the bleak tone of the month. Jared, the main character, is a teen with a damn hard life. With a grandmother who thinks he’s a trickster in disguise and a mom bouncing around with a drug-dealing boyfriend, things are certainly not rainbows and roses.

Here’s the thing though: it works. It works so incredibly well. This is the most realistic magical realism novel I’ve ever read. The characters seem like they could have walked out of any small town, and the stoner community and mindset were super accurate. People sometimes have hard lives. That’s just the way it is. It was a great change to read about such a realistic teen who is also such a good person.

I think it’s also worth noting that Jared is Native American, as are most of the characters in the book. So is the author herself – which makes this an #ownvoices read that I was happy to pick up. I rarely get to read YA with Native protagonists, which is really a shame.

Characters were complex and believable. Everyone is dealing with their own issues and they often complicate each other’s lives without even trying. Jared’s mom has a mantra that is often repeated throughout – and rings both true and false.

“The world is hard. You have to be harder.”

I’ll say right out that this isn’t the book for you if you take a critical view of underage swearing, drinking, drug use or sex. Maybe you should reconsider what you know of teenagers if you think their lives don’t include those things though.

I was interested to see how the magic would function as I expected it to stem from Indigenous beliefs, and I was pretty mesmerised by what was included. (Those otters, though. For real.) I’m really eager for more! The small hints of the fantastic are included from the very start, but they never overwhelm the narrative. The clear existence of a mystical world just sitting alongside our own was pretty shocking, but in the best possible way.

(Also – Jared’s reaction to weird shit (read: magic) was always spot on. A+ to that.)

Though there was a focus on the ‘realism’ aspect of this book, it was still steeped in magic, even when the characters were blitzed out of their minds. Despite their utter strangeness, the magical aspects of the book were totally believable. They were perhaps more believable because the reader is left to focus on the aspects themselves rather than the ‘why’ behind them.

The strange short interludes in italics were an interesting addition to the book, and a welcome one.

I was ultimately satisfied with the ending of the book when I took some time to mull it over. I learned that this is the first in a series, which means that the elements of magic that were briefly touched on may get more screen time in the next book.

I can’t wait to read more from Eden Robinson, and considering this book, I know that she won’t disappoint!

Can you recommend any great magical realism? Have you read any of Eden Robinson’s other books? Let me know in the comments below!

Dumbledore’s Army Readathon!

I believe I’ve mentioned before how cool it is to be a part of the book blogging community, but though I’ve done book memes galore and comment when I can, I haven’t quite done a true group activity.

That’s changing from January 1st to 15th, when I’ll be taking part in the Dumbledore’s Army readathon, hosted by Read At Midnight! Sign ups are open during December, so head over there and check out the details if you’re interested.

So, the #DAReadAThon is a Harry Potter themed readathon, focusing on diverse books (especially #ownvoices books). Books read and activities participated in earn you points for the house you sign up with!

Here’s my sign up card:

name-daniella

And here’s my to-read list for the readathon:

dareadathon-expecto-patronum

the-bell-jar

The Bell Jar has been on my to-read list for ages, and it’s definitely an #ownvoices book. I don’t recall ever reading a book in which the main character’s depression is centred upon, and I’m eager to do so.

 

 

 

 

da-readathon-expelliarmus

if-i-was-your-girl

 

I haven’t ever read a book with a transgender main character, but this one is an #ownvoices pick – and its supposed to be really good. Looking forward to picking it up!

 

 

 

 

da-readathon-protego

in-search-of-april-raintree

I’ve had this on my shelf for a while, but haven’t yet read it. Another #ownvoices book, there’s no better time to tackle it than during this readathon!

 

 

da-readathon-reducto

we-should-all-be-feminists

This short ebook is based on my favourite Ted Talk of all time, and I’m really looking forward to seeing it expanded upon.

 

 

 

 

dareadathon-impedimentathe-jade-peony

A former Canada Reads selection, this canlit pick has been sitting on my shelf for far too long! Another #ownvoices pick as well.

 

 

 

 

dareadathon-stupefy

the-absolutey-true-diary

I’ve had my eye on this award winner for a very long time. Another #ownvoices pick, this time also a YA title. Right up my alley!

 

 

 

 

dareadthon-lumos

Now it’s time for you to help me out! Comment below to recommend a great #ownvoices pick for me to check out during this readathon!