cover image If I Was Your Girl

If I Was Your Girl

Meredith Russo. Flatiron, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-07840-7

In an illuminating debut guided by hope and overwhelming kindness, Russo demonstrates the challenges teens face in finding “the truest version” of themselves. Though she was born Andrew Hardy, Amanda always knew she was meant to be a girl. After enduring classroom bullies and her father’s admonishments to toughen up, Amanda moves to Atlanta with her mother for a long, difficult physical transition. Afterward, Amanda returns to her father and a new town in Tennessee, eager to finish high school and move to a big city. Amanda wishes to go unnoticed, but her beauty attracts friends and potential boyfriends. The more she begins to feel like “a normal teenage girl,” the more she becomes aware of the secrets those around her keep—secrets that, like hers, have the power to both destroy and liberate. Shifting between Amanda’s past and present, Russo gently examines the emotional journey of one trans teen, covering acceptable language, gender expectations, and the politics of going “stealth.” Though the Southern setting and religious undertones aren’t free of stereotypes, they serve as a sounding board for larger issues of identity and orientation. Ages 13–up. Agent: Sara Shandler and Joelle Hobeika, Alloy Entertainment. (May)