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Ioana Budusan, Independent Usborne Organiser


Book Review - If I Was Your Girl

5th July 2017

Inspiring, heartwarming, tear-jerking, agonising; this novel takes you on a whirlwind of emotions and is sure to leave you thinking about its messages long after you turn the final page.

If I Was Your Girl tells the story of Amanda Hardy - a new girl at a new school. While starting any new school can be a daunting experience, Amanda is welcomed by her classmates and quickly has a solid group of friends and a boyfriend on the football team. But Amanda has a secret, and secrets always have a way of coming back to haunt us.

The novel is set in the southern states of the U.S., and it is soon clear that the ingrained prejudices of society prevent the characters from truly being who they want to be. Whilst the novel is ultimately focused on the struggles the main character, Amanda, faces as a transgender female, it highlights the struggles that every teenager faces in trying to conform to what society expects of them, especially in a small-town world.

According to a 2016 UCLA study, 1.4 million people in the U.S. identify as transgender, but the likelihood is that there are many more people struggling with their gender identity, and unable to acknowledge it in a seemingly judgemental society. This novel is a powerful reminder of what it means to be human, and the need to accept and embrace people for their differences, rather than ostracise them for things they cannot change.

The novel switches between past and present throughout, and we are able to see Amanda's journey to becoming her true self, and the intense difficulties that she faced with her identity throughout her life. At times the cruelty she was subjected to in the flashbacks is quite hard to take, but it would not have been realistic for the author to gloss over the realities that many transgender people face. 

If I Was Your Girl is a hugely relatable novel for any teenager, and an incredibly important novel to teach anyone about basic human kindness and understanding. It was hard to put down, and will certainly be hard to forget.

If I Was Your Girl was chosen by blogger Zoella, as part of her 2016 Book Club. Zoella is one of the UK's most successful bloggers, and a hugely popular role model for teenage girls. 

UCLA is a public research university dedicated to conducting vigorous independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity and public policy.

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