“For as long as I could remember, I had been apologizing for existing, for trying to be who I was, to live the life I was meant to lead.”
If I Was Your Girl is one of those books that stays with you a long time after finishing it. It’s one that keeps you up at night thinking about the lives of the characters you came to love, and wonder what they’re up to now. It’s been a couple of weeks since I finished this book and I’m still not over it.
The first thing I loved about this book was Amanda. Amanda was assigned male as birth (AMAB), but she has always been a girl. We get to know Amanda from both flashbacks of her past where she faced bullying and discrimination and also of Amanda right now trying to finally live her life as the girl she always knew she was. Amanda’s personality is so bright and bubbly. She’s a ray of sunshine on each page, full of innocence and hope. I loved that the things she’s been through hasn’t broken her spirit, and she keeps persevering and basically living her life. However, she also has her insecurities and doubts, which made her extremely relatable to me. Amanda just always felt so real; it was great to face such a refreshing character.
The plot of this book is mainly the romance between her and Grant. Of Amanda and Grant getting to know each other and Amanda debating on whether of not she should tell him she was AMAB. I think the romance was completely adorable. Grant isn’t the typical YA protagonist; he’s not the cocky, overly confident alpha male that we see in a lot of books. Grant is just a normal teenage boy who’s super sweet and super kind. The romance between them was so sweet. It isn’t insta-love. They both get to know each other and have several cute moments together before falling into something more. I actually loved the couple regardless of their romantic situation, because Grant and Amanda were just so good for each other be it as friends are lovers.
Thankfully, this book isn’t only about the romance. It has several (!!) positive female relationships, and a big emphasis on family. I loved that Amanda had such a great supporting group of people around her.
I’ve seen a couple of reviews that have criticized this book because of it being “unrealistic”; that Amanda had everything “come easily to her”. I wholeheartedly disagree. Amanda goes through a lot of hardship throughout the book, and even if she didn’t, that doesn’t mean the story is unrealistic. Not at all. It was completely refreshing to me to find a book where our main character (who is trans) has such a normal life. I think we’ve been exposed to too many books where the LGBTQIAP+ character has lived through horrendous situations, which makes it seem as if a happy life is “unrealistic” for them. It’s not.
“I deserved to live. I deserved to find love. I knew now – I believed, now – that I deserved to be loved.”
I read this book through audio borrowed from the library, and I absolutely loved the narrator. They nailed all the accents and gave each character and individual voice. I felt as if I was hearing a story narrated by a friend, which made it easier to immerse myself in the book.
Overall, If I Was Your Girl is a refreshing and heart-warming book about a girl learning to love herself and live the life she’s always wanted. The romance is adorable, there’s an awesome supportive cast of friends and family, and, to me, the protagonist is completely relatable. The book is so well written that it left me with a huge smile after I finished. While the ending is a bit ambiguous, it still gives you enough answers so that you can keep thinking about the characters and their lives long after you’ve finished the book. I’ll definitely look out for more books written by Meredith Russo!
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Check out my Twitter aesthetic post of If I Was Your Girl:
— Ma(cabre)rianne🎃 (@marianneereads) October 21, 2016
Because I’m still not over the book, I also made a playlist on Spotify:
From the start, I was completely immersed and invested in this story as the narrator of the audiobook gave the perfect contemporary vibe to it. She nailed the different accents, character voices, and made Amanda jump from the page as if she was a close friend telling her own story.
If I Was Your Girl has strong family and friendship themes I completely love. Because Amanda was AMAB (Assigned Male at Birth), she had difficulties relating to her father who always wanted a traditionally masculine boy who did sports and struggled to be accepting of his daughter at first. It was hard at times to not want to hate him, but by the end of the book, he is able to accept Amanda and make the family ties and acceptance of Amanda’s transness stronger. There were also friendships that were sweet and supportive, with nothing of that horrible gossip and toxic environment, and how sometimes some friends might treat you wrongly, but also that you will find greater ones who love you no matter what.
There was also the romance that made me swoon so much! I loved Amanda’s and Grant’s dynamic from the start as their romance bloomed, being so sweet and gentle and beautiful. There was also some angst as to telling Grant that Amanda was AMAB that added to the tension of if their love and relationship would last. There were difficult moments between them, but regardless of that, I absolutely enjoyed them being together and how things worked out.
Overall, this story gives an important message of self-love and learning to live the life you dream of having, regardless of hardships and situations you may have. Amanda is a trans girl, but she was also a teen facing new obstacles and life as an adult, which make this story so heart-warming, relatable, and thought-provoking in all the topics and themes it presents. The author brings this story to life with an easygoing, understandable, and readable language rich in descriptions, as well as its dialogue, plot, and characters. The mix of these made you question if this was real or not, like listening to a friend tell you about their life. At times I wanted to cry and smash something (not a good idea during class) because of the hardships faces, but by the end, you’re just so happy with how things turn out and hopeful for her.
So if you’re into contemporary reads with heartfelt moments, swoony scenes, strong family themes and awesome friends, this book is for you. Meredith Russo has a new fan on the lookout for more of her books to come to devour!
Rating: 4.5 stars