If I Was Your Girl, by Meredith Russo
Talk about starting the year off right—this was the first book I read in the new year, and it is uniformly excellent.
It doesn't come out until May, so I'm not going to go on about it at length—I'll do that closer to the release date—but know that I've pre-ordered my own copy, and that you should do the same. Like, right now.
If I Was Your Girl is about Amanda Hardy, the new girl in school. She settles into school, and despite her intention to stay off the radar, makes friends pretty quickly and attracts the attention of one of the most popular boys in school... and she finds that the more she gets to know him, the more she wants him in her life, and not only that, but to share her past with him.
But she's holding a secret close—that she's trans—and she knows that sharing that secret might endanger not just her friendships, her romance with Grant, but her actual safety.
I just want to run around in circles yelling READ THIS READ THIS READ THIS.
It's a story about friendship and family and love and trust and identity and secrets and compassion and kindness and forgiveness and understanding. It absolutely doesn't diminish the difficulties and dangers that Amanda faces, but it's also an ultimately feel-good book. Her changing relationship with her father is FANTASTIC, and the friendship thread is just as important as the romance. It made me cry, but not because of the painful moments—it made me cry because of the moments in which people surprised me.
Also. The moments in which Amanda compares and contrasts being seen and treated as male versus seen and treated as female are so important. Like:
Too many dads seemed interested in us as we passed, and for just a moment I missed the near-invisibility of life as a boy.
and this exchange that she has with her mother:
"At least you're smart as I always thought then, " she said. "Pucker up. Being a girl in this world means being afraid. That fear'll keep you safe. It'll keep you alive."
"Is it really that bad?"
She ran the balm along my lips and signaled for me to pucker. "Maybe not. Who knows? World's different now. When you told me about your ... your condition, I was more sad for you for having to deal with being a girl than anything else. Go check your reflection."
MUPPET FLAILS ALL AROUND. Seriously, PRE-ORDER.
I want this book to do so, so well. Not just because it's so good—SO GOOD—but because I want to see more #ownvoices stories.
Until I get my physical copy, until I can read it again, here are some other books by trans women authors that I've added to my TBR list:
A Safe Girl to Love, by Casey Plett: 11 short stories about young trans women.
Nevada, by Imogen Binnie: Novel about a trans woman in her 20s, working retail in NYC, who discovers that her girlfriend has been lying to her.
Redefining Realness, by Janet Mock: Memoir that deals with intersectional marginalization, race, economic class, and gender.
Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano: Essays about gender and sexuality and feminism and biology.
Seasonal Velocities, by Ryka Aoki: Poems, stories, and essays by a musician-writer-performer-educator. 2013 Lambda Award Finalist.
I’ve Got a Time Bomb, by Sybil Lamb: After being attacked and left for dead, Sybil's skull is reconstructed, which alters her perception of the world around her.
Feel free to recommend more!