If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo is a breathtakingly amazing book that I urge you to read! This book is such an important, eye-opener that it should be among required reading in school. But it’s also an amazing, powerful, heart-wrenching and beautiful story that deserves to be read on its own merits. This is a story that will stay with me forever. I loved this book to pieces and I recommend it with all my heart!
If I Was Your Girl is about Amanda Hardy, who is moving to a new school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda has a secret past; she used to be Andrew, and she has struggled growing up, being bullied, the whole gender identity issue of course and other hardship. But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself, including her past.
I loved this book! So much! It’s such a heart-breaking story. I was immediately drawn into it and read it basically cover to cover in one sitting.
It’s also a very important book, that normalizes trans experiences, and opens they eyes to what the life of a girl who has undergone the medical procedures is like. What I especially liked about the book was that it was not a coming-out book, but a book about the every day life of a transgender teenager, dealing with issues like finding acceptance amongst friends, how to start dating and being intimate with a boyfriend, how to work things out with the parents.
Amanda was such a lovable character. My heart really ached for her, and I so wished for her to get a happy life and be fully accepted for who she was. I liked that there were passages in the book that showed Amanda’s past, to give a feeling for the hardship and abuse she’d endured. It gave her so much depth and made me get even more attached to her. These passages were really emotional, both from Amanda’s perspective but they also gave some insights on the issue from her parents perspectives. I really loved Amanda’s mother in the book and how she handled the ‘losing-a-son-to- get-a-daughter-thing’, which was something I’d never thought about before.
In the book Amanda also made some good friends. I loved the friendship, and it really gave me hope for Amanda’s life onwards. Her friends were all amazing, especially towards the very end of the book. (Except for one, but talking about that one will be a spoiler alert.)
What I loved about the book was the overall positive feeling. Yes, Amanda has been through a lot of terrible things, and has struggled so hard (even trying to commit suicide) to come to terms with who she was, but when the book takes place, her life is good. Or at least starting to be good. She has become the girl she’s always been and is about to start a new chapter in her life. I think that is a really important aspect and a wonderful message to take with you from the book.
Also, do not miss the author's note at the end of the book. It really gives you an extra dimension to the book after reading it.
Find out more about the book and the author here: Meredith Russo
Life and Death is a ten years anniversary edition of Twilight where Bella and Edward are replaced by Beau and Edyth instead. Being an old Twihard fan, of course I had to get it! But it was quite a disappointment, sadly…
I liked Stephenie’s idea of a gender swap and a retake of the story, but it turned out to be... just meh. Boring, frankly. I hoped that there would be some re-writing of the most problematic parts, or some new additions to the story, but it was the exact same story as in Twilight, but with all the characters as the opposite gender (except Bella’s parents). Just in itself, this gender swap didn’t add anything really new to the story. Also, since all the genders were different, the names changed too and quite honestly, I didn’t know who was who most of the time. (And why change the gender of everyone except for Charlie and Renee? Would a female chief of police and a male carefree Renee really have been too unrealistic? Compared to vampires...?)
I can’t help thinking that it would have been so much more interesting and refreshing if it had been turned into a LGBT story instead, like between Beau and Edward, or between Bella and Edyth…
What I really loved about the book though was the foreword and afterword, you could really feel how much fun Stephenie had when writing it!
Find out more about the book and the author here: Stephenie Meyer
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst is such a cute YA fantasy with a girl-girl love story - a princess falling in love with her fiance’s sister.
I loved this story and the sweet romance, I am really happy about this kind of diversity in YA Fantasy books and wish for there to be more of it in the future. Hopefully by Audrey Coulthurst!
This is her debut novel, which is really impressive. The writing is wonderful, with distinct voices for the two main characters, Denna and Mare, and with a romance that is allowed to take its time. My favorite was actually Mare, over Denna. I loved Mare’s fierceness and her way of breaking all princess conventions.
I also love that the society described in the book was so open to women in general. There were women in positions of leadership and in the army, and it also seemed like there wasn’t any taboo in the relationship itself. The obstacles against it were more the circumstances, that Denna was already engaged to the Prince, not because it was two women falling in love. It was also good that Denna and Thandi (the Prince she was betrothed to) never had any romantic feelings for each other. It was not about Denna falling in love twice, or a love triangle, but about being torn between the duties enforced upon you and the wish to make your own decisions and be with your one true love.
Even though I loved a lot about this book, there was also a few things that disappointed me. The fantasy world and the characters could have been more developed, and it would have helped a lot with a better background (why was magic forbidden and why was there an alliance between two of the kingdoms that needed to be sealed by a marriage?). But overall it was a great read with an important topic and representation. I encourage you to check this one out if you're a fan of YA Fantasy!
Find out more about the book and the author here: Audrey Coulthurst