Hey you should check out Meredith Russo's book If I Was Your Girl! It is sooo good!
Amanda has some serious secrets she is trying to keep at her new school. Amanda shows bravery, resilience, and strength as a transgender teen! It relates to trans people who are just trying to be loved, accepted, and find their sense of belonging. It normalizes the experiences. The plot doesn't focus on Amanda being trans, but on her experiences after her transition. It's almost too good to be true though! I didn't see that plot twist coming!
Ya? What's sooo good about it?
Amanda Hardy, formally Andrew, is the new girl in small town Tennessee due to some unfortunate circumstances. She is trying to stay on her guard and out of the spotlight, until she meets an unusual group of friends and a cute, easygoing boy. She wants to be honest with her new life, but is scared of how they will react. Eventually, she is outed through betrayal, but as soon as it seems the world looks dark for Amanda, it is brightened through her persistent attitude as she finally finds where she belongs.
Russo, Meredith. If I Was Your Girl. Flatiron Books, 2016.
"Not the way I am. I have a past, okay? And you really don't want to get involved in it (77)."
"But I mean...about me being complicated (77)."
"Everybody's got a past. That don't mean you can't have a future (77)."
"Everybody's complicated (77)."
"But I saved the best for last, y'all. Look at our homecoming queen...But guys, guess what: She's a he (222)!"
We need more books like If I Was Your Girl. I connected and fell in love with the characters and their relationships. I now have a better understanding as to how LGBTQ people feel and what I can do to help them as a friend and a teacher. I didn't care for how the book was written. I found the past information interesting, but not necessarily useful and slightly distracting to my understanding of Amanda. I felt like the story was almost too good to be true. It doesn't change that I love the novel, but it might affect the relatability. Russo did mention that she wrote the book with cisgender readers in mind so that Amanda would be as unchallenged as possible. I liked the normal-ness, and I felt like that is something many teens crave and desire.
Russo makes it clear that Amanda's story shouldn't be treated as gospel. Being a trans woman, she fictionalized some of Amanda's story to help reader's to have no barriers in understanding Amanda as a typical teenage girl.
Teaching Reading with YA Literature Complex Texts, Complex LivesIf I Was Your Girl is one of those books that Jennifer Buehler could use as an example to help create lifelong readers. This novel could help students feel important, known, and valued. A teacher could have discussions that are both personal and literary. It will build a teacher's knowledge as a matchmaker.
To Teach or Not to Teach?I believe that If I Was Your Girl should be read by everyone. I can't see a teaching aspect to the novel, but I think that is because it was such an eye-opening, personal learning experience. I would use the novel in a literature circle where discussions could be facilatated and colorful. Students can study the prejudice students who are LGBTQ face and discuss what they can do to help those students. I think it would be great to hear (and see follow through) on students creating a student organization to support those students.