cover image Birthday


Meredith Russo. Flatiron, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-12983-3

Stonewall Award winner Russo (If I Was Your Girl) tackles teen love, heartbreak, sexuality, and gender identity in this novel told over the course of six years through the alternating voices of transgender girl Morgan and cisgender boy Eric, two childhood best friends who share the same birthday. As the story opens in their Tennessee town on their 13th birthday, Morgan has realized that the gender she was assigned at birth doesn’t fit who she truly is. The only person Morgan wants to share this information with is Eric; Morgan reasons that if Eric accepts her, then everything will be fine. But her attempts to tell Eric fail, and by day’s end, Morgan feels even more alone. Russo’s narrative revisits the characters each year on their birthdays, and over time Morgan moves closer to embracing her true self while dealing with bullies and harassment. Meanwhile, Eric navigates an abusive father, a desire to play guitar over football, and a growing attraction to Morgan. Russo weaves together a series of short stories, encapsulating each year of development in a snapshot without losing character depth. A realistic picture of the challenges that teens may face when finding themselves and falling in love. Ages 13–up. [em]Agent: Hayley Wagreich and Joelle Hobeika, Alloy Entertainment. (May) [/em]