cover image Girl Mans Up

Girl Mans Up

M-E Girard. HarperTeen, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-240417-6

In this powerful debut, Girard explores questions of family, friendship, loyalty, and identity through the voice of Pen Oliveira, a 16-year old girl who’s “not into dudes,” looks and dresses like a boy, and doesn’t “get why it’s such a big deal to people, the way I am.” The second child of conservative Portuguese parents who immigrated to Ontario, Pen has long felt accepted and protected by her older brother, Johnny, and her childhood friend Colby, who treats her like one of the guys. With Colby increasingly acting like “an entitled jerk,” especially toward girls, Pen confronts difficult choices about where her loyalty lies. New friendships with Colby’s ex Olivia and a girl named Blake, who shares Pen’s love of gaming and wants to be her girlfriend, make her reconsider the meaning of respect, which her parents have always demanded. Girard forcefully conveys the fear Pen lives with, having experienced frequent mockery and bullying, and her courage in aspiring to a safe, loving community for herself and her friends. Ages 14–up. Agent: Linda Epstein, Emerald City Literary. (Sept.)