Author: Meredith Russo
Genre: Young Adult | Contemporary | LGBTQiA
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: March 3, 2016
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 (goodreads).
If I Was Your Girl is a beautiful novel of self-discovery and coming into your skin.
Plot: If I Was Your Girl opened with a nervous Amanda starting her first day at a new school. I liked that Russo interwove elements from Amanda's past throughout the novel so that readers were continuously learning about Amanda and her family dynamic. If I Was Your Girl was a slow book, but that was because the true focus was on Amanda's relationships with the people around her. It was an easy read and the mix of past and present scenes really drew me into discovering Amanda. If I Was Your Girl didn't spend a lot of time on Amanda's transition, which made it effortless to accept Amanda as nothing more than a young 16-year old girl.
Characters: Amanda was a darling girl that I empathized with on so many levels. Her relationship with her family was rocky at times, but everyone had Amanda's best interest in mind. It was funny because I found myself relating to the parents more times than not. I wanted to keep Amanda safe in a world that didn't understand the trans community. There was no true villain in If I Was Your Girl, just various people struggling with life. The relationship between Amanda and Grant was innocent and beautiful and I liked how the teens complimented each other.
Worldbuilding: Amanda relocated to the rural South to live with her estranged father after an incident at her old school. Her father was clearly trying to adjust to life with a teenaged daughter, but he also had the habit of trying to shield her from the bigots. Russo's description of Amanda's new home was nothing short of charming, but there was always the danger lurking in the background. Despite the stereotypes that come with the South, I found Russo's portrayal to be fun and fair.
Narrator Performance: Samia Mounts breathed life into Amanda for me. She gave Amanda a voice of innocence and unbridled happiness, but then could cry her sadness and uncertainty. I wish I could leave my glowing review of Mounts' performance at that, but unfortunately, I could hear her licking her lips every now and then, and that is not a pleasant sound to have in your ears for eight hours.
Short N Sweet: If I Was Your Girl is an important coming-of-age story that explores various relationships. I highly recommend to everyone!