Amanda Hardy has just moved to Lambertsville, Tennessee. She’s harbouring a big secret and all she wants to do is keep her head down and graduate before leaving the South for good. But then she meets Grant and her best laid plans all fly out thewindow.
So, firstly I want to point out that If I Was Your Girl is a super important book. It’s about a trans girl, written by a trans woman with a trans model on the cover. This is awesome: we need to see more of this kind of representation and YA publishers are being slow in catching up. So for this alone I’d be prepared to forgive a lot.
Luckily for me, I don’t have to because I actually really enjoyed it. Don’t you just hate it when you read an ‘important’ book and it doesn’t really float your boat and then you feel like a gobshite for wanting to only give it a couple of stars? That wasn’t the case here. Amanda was super relatable and her story was in turns heartbreaking and hopeful.
Apart from the part where Amanda describes how she has to ‘dilate’ one day. I didn’t know what that meant, so I Googled it. Holy crap. I developed a whole new level of respect for trans women. Aside from this, though, I breezed through the book. It’s everything it promises to be: an uncomplicated, hopeful story about acceptance and friendship.
The only thing this book suffered from was a lack of tension. Amanda’s life once she moves to Lambertsville is pretty charmed. She passes easily and instantly makes some good friends and attracts a wonderful boyfriend (they have a relationship that’s incredibly sweet, bordering on cheesy). Her parents are working hard to be accepting and for a southern Baptist town, the townsfolk don’t seem too hellfire and brimstone. I’m glad the author included flashback chapters that highlight the problems Amanda had in her previous hometown because without these the book would have lacked bite.
Oh, and there was a bit where a homecoming dance is announced, and Amanda’s boyfriend asks her to come. She says yes. ‘Idiot!’ I wanted to shout. ‘Have you never read a YA novel? Nothing good ever happens at the homecoming dance!’ I saw the big denouement coming a mile off (because whenever a book centres around the MC having to hide a big secret, the secret obviously has to come out) and when the homecoming dance was announced I saw what was going to happen.
If you’re looking for a story that gives a gritty (and probably more realistic) representation of being a trans teen, then this might not be the book for you. The author herself says that Amanda’s experiences aren’t typical of most trans people. However, if you want a nice escapist story with an unfeasibly wonderful love interest and an MC who just happens to be trans, then I’d definitely recommend it.