You know the feeling when you just can’t put a book down and it’s making you all feverish and happy and scared that something bad will happen to the characters and laughing and crying at the same time? Birthday by Meredith Russo is that kind of book.
The topic of this book is heavy, dealing with things like the death of a parent, transgender, bullying and suicide, but Meredith Russo found a perfect balance between the hardship and struggles and still creating a hopeful story, heart-warming and oh so gripping story.
Birthday is about Morgan and Eric who are bonded for life after being born on the same day at the same time. We meet them once a year on their shared birthday as they grow and change: as Eric figures out who he is and how he fits into the world, and as Morgan makes the difficult choice to live as her true self. The story is told from both Morgan’s and Eric’s POV with snapshots of their birthdays from age 13 to 18. I really loved this concept of alternating POVs and how so much can be read into what has happened during the time between the birthdays. Over the years, they will drift apart, come together, fight, make up, and break up—and ultimately, when tragedy strikes, realizing that they need one another more than ever. While this novel hugely deals with Morgan being transgender, at its core this is definitely a love story. The relationship between the two is so beautiful and definitely one of my favorites ever.
I loved both of the main characters. My heart went out for Morgan already from the start, when he’s grieving his mother and having to go through all his problems without her to talk to. But I also really loved Eric too, he was such a genuinely good person and caring friend. It was so amazing how Eric supported Morgan, even before he understood what was going on with her. Meredith Russo did such a great job in describing how Eric subconsciously had feelings for Morgan as if she was a girl before she even knew if for certain herself. And then, when she came out to him, it was absolutely beautiful to see how Eric used immediately and completely natural used the she pronouns.
Meredith Russo has created a masterpiece in Birthday! I recommend it with all my heart. It’s such a realistic novel not avoiding any of the hardship (I cried so much!) but it’s also so full of hope and love and friendship, that it leaves you with this warm, happy feeling nevertheless.
I also loved, loved, loved Meredith Russo’s first book, If I Was Your Girl. It’s a story that has stayed with me since I read it, and which I will always remember. Both her books are such important eye-openers that they should be among required reading in school, but they are also such amazing, powerful, heart-wrenching and beautiful stories that deserves to be read on their own merits.
Find out more about the books and the author here: Meredith Russo