Author: Meredith Russo
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published Date: May 3rd 2016
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Transgender
Audio Time: 7 Hour
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★.5
The book tells the story of Amanda Hardy, who moves to a small town in Tennessee to live with her father. She wants to make friends and fit in, but Amanda has a secret: she used to be Andrew, and fears that the truth could cost her her new life, and her new love.
Trigger warning: Book contains rape attempt, talk of rape, suicide attempt, & forced outing
“For as long as I could remember, I had been apologizing for existing, for trying to be who I was, to live the life I was meant to lead.”
Amanda is a young transgender woman who is switching schools in order to have a better shot at life. She is also going from living with her mother, to living with her father who she hasn’t had much to do with since her parents’ divorce.
Once she is moved there and starts school a group of girls befriend her and add her to their group. This turns out to be the best thing that’s happened to her in a while because these girls don’t care that she’s transgender they see her for who she is now and how she treats people. Then there is also a boy named Grant who she ends up falling for even though she promised her dad that her main focus would be on school and getting into a good college. After a while though her dad’s somewhat okay with the idea even though he is terrified that something will happen to Amanda if Grant or one of his friends would find out that she is transgender.
Sadly though everything goes horribly wrong towards the end and what Amanda’s worked so hard for almost gets taken away.
“I’ve seen trans people in movies and TV shows, but judging by how unrealistic and shitty bi characters tend to be, I’m gonna assume I know nothing."
Going into this book, I didn’t really know much about transgender besides the general information. So this was a very eye opening read and one that I enjoyed. I love learning things and seeing a different side of life from the one I’ve always known and with this book that is exactly what I got. We see Amanda not only struggle with fitting in but also feeling sorry that she wasn’t who she was born as. That she couldn’t please her parents and those around her by being a boy and doing boy things. This all starts from a young age and through flashbacks we get to see them and how she felt about them at that time and how they affect her now in the decisions she makes and how she acts towards those around her. I also liked how religion was also mentioned in this book. Amanda still believed and had payed attention as a child even though those around her in the church didn’t want her there until she was a boy again. (This was heartbreaking to read because it’s not how Christians are supposed to act, but sadly I know it was very realistic.)
“God wanted me to live, and this was the only way I knew how to survive, so this was what God wanted.”
I think for me what made this book more enjoyable for me was how we see not only Amanda grow as a person and start truly loving herself, but also her parents and how they were dealing with this change and how they grew as well. Through it all Amanda loved her parents dearly and to see them accept her as who she is now and love her for it was so nice to see.
“I wasn’t sorry I existed any more. I deserved to live. I deserved to find love. I knew now – I believed, now – that I deserved to be loved.”
The thing that got me the most though was at the end of the audiobook when the author came on and gave some background information on what was real and what wouldn’t have been able to happen until Amanda was older. I also liked how Meredith said that this shouldn’t be used for all of the facts about transgender just because the author is transgender. That things in real life most likely wouldn’t happen how they did in the book.
“I know it hurts. I know it hurts so bad you can barely breathe sometimes. I know because I’ve been there. Please don’t leave us. I promise life can be good, and we need you too much.”
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