If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, LGBT+
Published by: Usborne
I was so desperate to read this book and I have been ever since it came out, but it was just one of those things where it was on a deal at Waterstones (buy one get one half price) and there wasn’t another book that I wanted! By the time there was If I Was Your Girl had been taken out of the offer, and I resolved that I’d have to find it in a library somewhere. THEN the next round of Zoella’s Book Club was announced and you’ll never guess which was the first book on the list?! And because I bought it when it was the featured book, it was half price! So sometimes waiting for the deals really does pay off! So, I’ve been hyped about this book for a really long time and I’m so happy I’ve finally got to read it because I LOVED it.
If I Was Your Girl follows Amanda, a trans girl who’s just moved back in with her Dad after taking a year off from school after her surgeries. Her dad’s still coming to terms with Amanda no longer being Andrew, whereas her mum has always been super supportive, so there’s quite a bit of conflict there. Amanda makes a whole bunch of friends and even starts to fall in love, but niggling just below the surface is the reminder that she needs to be careful everything she’s worked so hard for could be taken away.
The story jumps back and forth between Amanda now, with some flashbacks to when she was a child and then the incidents leading up to her transition. I really liked how the flashbacks weren’t linear, because it was just filling you in one the things that you needed to know, or would give you a deeper emotional connection with Amanda, exactly when you needed them. In the present day timeline weeks could go by in a matter of pages, so it was definitely glossing over the year maybe a bit quicker than I would’ve liked, but that’s only because I could’ve read 300 MORE pages about Amanda and her journey.
Let’s take a minute to talk about the characters, because they are wonderful. Admittedly, they’re a bit stereotypical, but Meredith Russo explains why in her note to readers at the end (so if you’re really curious then I suggest picking it up!)
Amanda is one of the sweetest more genuine characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. I think because she’s suffered a lot at the hands of other people, she really knows how her words can/will affect the people around her. I fell in love with her immediately, because all she wanted to do was be herself, even though people around her were trying to paint her as the Manic Pixie Dream Girl or The Girl Next Door or Little Miss Perfect. She knew who she was and that was The BEST Thing.
Bee is Amanda’s first friend in the new town, and she’s pretty eccentric. She’s the rebel and the rule breaker but she’s got secrets of her own. It’s always really odd to read characters who have the same name as you because you want them to be similar, but I had very little in common with Bee. She’s the kind of person who’s really fun to be around, but there’s something about her that just seems a bit…unsteady.
Next we have, Layla, Anna and Chloe, Amanda’s other group of friends. Layla is The Nice One, Anna is The Religious One and Chloe is The Sporty One. See what I mean about the stereotyping? But it’s okay because they too were genuinely lovely people, and I have to admit that Chloe was my favourite just because of the ONE scene where she’s an absolute bad-ass who’s taking no prisoners. Haha!
Amanda’s parents are really important entities. I found it difficult to like them at times because there were scenes where they were just making the entire situation about them, mourning their son even though they’ve got a SUPER FAB daughter in front of them. But I think it’s important to show that kind of vulnerability and confusion because not everyone’s going to understand or handle the situation in the same way. Whereas I was all pepped up for Amanda to be her best self her dad was more reluctant, but the relationship development was really something special.
And the last person we have to talk about is Grant, Amanda’s love interest! Grant is a bit of a mystery to begin with, but he likes Amanda and that’s the most important thing. I really liked him – I really like all of the characters – even though they didn’t always do the right thing or act the right way in the moment, they, especially Grant, knew when to say sorry, so the communication between all of these characters was really strong, and something I appreciated on a whole other level.
I liked that there was instant attraction between Amanda and Grant, but it wasn’t insta-love. I feel like just the right amount of time was given for their feelings to develop and I loved how we actually got to see them go on dates and learn more about each other. They didn’t go from not knowing each other at all to being in an intense relationship, it built up to it!
The majority of the plot works around Amanda trying to, or wondering whether she should, tell the new people in her life that she’s trans. As her relationship with Grant progresses she feels more pressure to say something and the first 200 pages or so were at absolute dream, but then things start to spiral. I was so happy to just read a book where nothing bad happened, but the truth will out!
If I Was Your Girl has definitely made it onto my list of best books of the year. It’s such an important read and I think everyone can get something out of it! I’m really happy that it’s part of Zoella’s book club because hopefully that means more people will read it, because it really is that special.