If I Was Your Girl
by Meredith Russo
read from 19 to 20 November 2017
Goodreads rating: ★★☆☆☆
actual rating: 2.5 stars
(for review with spoilers: see Goodreads)
meaning behind rating: It was okay. However, there were some things I didn’t like. At times, I didn’t even enjoy reading it. (x)
diversity: transgender main character who used to be depressed, bisexual side character (who is a rape victim), transgender side characters and lesbian side character
disclaimer: I am a cisgender, bisexual (though closeted) woman
It pains me to give this a low rating. It really does. If I Was Your Girl is such an important novel: it’s about Amanda, a transgender girl and it is written by a transgender woman! Own voices are so valuable. In my opinion, every author should do an effort to include trans characters. However, I think trans authors are the only ones who can tell stories like Amanda’s. Meaning that their portrayal will be much more accurate than what a cisgender author would write, because they experienced much of it themselves. Sure, cisgenders can do research, but it still won’t be as accurate and probably be filled with stereotypes.
Having said that, I didn’t actually enjoy reading this. The blurb says that secrets have a way of getting out. I was constantly feeling anxious, afraid of Amanda’s secret being revealed. Perhaps that was done intentionally, but I don’t like having that feeling while reading. I want to enjoy it, not cause me to stress out.
Furthermore, I have major issues with the way the bisexual character was written. It bothered me so badly, I wanted to DNF it, even though there were only a couple more chapters left. But I will get to that later.
If I Was Your Girl is a diverse read (though seriously lacks people of colour). Unfortunately, I can’t love something based on that fact alone. And trust me: I really wanted to love this. I do not enjoy the kind of contemporaries that are set in high school and revolve around a boyfriend, friends, prom… Yet that’s exactly what If I Was Your Girl is about.
The romance was a huge part of the story. I generally tend to not be a fan of most pairings and If I Was Your Girl wasn’t an exception. Amanda is 19 years old, yet was already imagining a future with Grant. It’s naive! No, not because she’s trans, but because they had only been dating for a couple of weeks and he was her very first boyfriend. It made her sound so much younger than she actually was. Honestly, she reminded me of Ariel from The Little Mermaid. I love her, but she was an idiot when it came to her feelings.
Would I recommend this? It features great trans representation, but a very shitty bisexual one. I constantly felt anxious, but perhaps that was the point. I want to say yes, because Amanda’s story is so important, but that would honestly be the only reason. However, do make sure to read the author’s note!
conclusion: Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy If I Was Your Girl as much as I had wanted. I have a major issue with the way the bisexual character was portrayed and wasn’t a fan of the romance/high school setting. Furthermore, it gave me anxiety and didn’t actually enjoy reading it. Ugh, I really hate that I didn’t love it, I feel like a bitch!