6/08/2018

If I was Your Girl.

 If I was your girl is a novel written by Meredith Russo.
It's an engaging, emotional, at times harsh story of a girl finding love and life in small town America.
This idea is not new - it is the starting premise for many YA novels in the last 50  years. Probably before YA novels knew they were going to be called YA novels.

Girl.
New Town.
Boy.
Friends.
Relationship drama.
All staples of the story .

In this book:
Amanda is sent by her mother to live with her father, leaving a History and Past behind, hoping to start fresh. She enters small town America with a secret that will definitely change how people will think of her. Her new friends are queens of the school, popular girls who sit at the top of school social order and there's a popular boy that for some reason seems to like her a lot. Against her better judgement, she likes him too.

And there you have it.
I would say it would be a boilerplate story if I knew what boilerplate actually meant.

The comfort of predictability laced with our own assumptions of what the typical normal story should be,  is why you will read this book. You understand what you're getting out of it, because you understand who you are when you are reading the "typical" YA novel. It's reflected in your empathy or disdain of a character as they move through the book, touching on events in your life that have meaning.

That's okay, that's normal.

If I was your girl offers a different perspective within what you might consider a typically normal YA story and this might shake up the touchstones you need to find yourself in this novel:

Nobody's normal.

As I said, Meredith Russo has created a story that is engaging, evocative and nuanced, as Amanda Hardy tries to navigate her own YA story with a sense of self that is literally being formed on every page. Amanda is transgender, and her YA story is anything but typical.  Uncomplicated and normal is what she craves, but how can you be who are when you've only just started being you, when everyone has years to find their space to be who they are  whether it's Cheerleader, Jock, Goth, Nerd, Boy, Girl.

The book starkly alternates chapters between Amanda's previous life and her current one, written beautifully by Russo, as she renders the idyllic small town life with the same care as she does Amanda's harrowing life  before, giving each equal emotional weight, whether it's running away to avoid getting beaten , or going to friends for her first sleepover.

Amanda's journey is typical, she's not conquering an empire, or dying due to sunlight exposure, she wants a life we assume we are entitled too. A normalcy that comes from knowing who you are. Amanda wants to be the normal American girl she always was and in the reading of this fantastic book, for this extraordinary girl - we want it for her too. 


So read If I was your Girl, because it's not normal,
it's brilliant.