A Book That “Will Change Minds and Open Hearts”

Lovely librarian friends, we are ecstatic that the e-galley is finally available for Flatiron Books’s very first YA title: IF I WAS YOUR GIRL by Meredith Russo.

This big-hearted novel about Amanda Hardy, a transgender girl at a new school, is both about being seen for who you really are and a love story that everyone will root for. Author Nina LaCour says, “This book will change minds and open hearts” and we completely agree.

Allow us to share a note from the author with you:

To my cisgender readers—which is to say those of you who are not trans:
Thank you for reading this. Thank you for being interested. I was nervous about what you might think of this book, though maybe not in the way you might think. I was, of course, anxious that people might not like it, but even more than that I was worried that you might take Amanda’s story as gospel, especially since it comes from a trans woman. This prospect terrified me, actually! I am a storyteller, not an educator. I have taken liberties with what I know reality to be. I have fictionalized things to make them work in my story. I have, in some ways, cleaved to stereotypes and even bent rules to make Amanda’s trans-ness as unchallenging to normative assumptions as possible. She knew from a very young age. She is exclusively attracted to boys. She is entirely feminine. She passes as a woman with little to no effort. She has had a surgery that her family should not have been able to afford, and she started hormones through legitimate channels before she probably could have in the real world. I did this because I wanted you to have no possible barrier to understanding Amanda as a teenage girl with a different medical history from most other girls. Amanda’s life and identity would have been just as valid if she didn’t figure herself out until later in life, or if she were a tomboy, or if she were bisexual or a lesbian or asexual, or if she had trouble passing, or if she either could not or chose not to get “bottom” surgery. Grant’s attraction to her in any of these scenarios would have been no less heterosexual, nor would Bee’s have been any less lesbian. It is easy to get hung up on these points if you haven’t lived our lives though, especially when the issue of genitals arises, so I wanted to set those aside. I hope that, having gotten to know Amanda, you will not apply the details of her experience as dogma other trans people must adhere to but, rather, as inspiration to pursue an ever broader understanding of our lives and identities as well as your own understanding of gender and sex.

To my trans readers: It’s okay if you’re different from Amanda. She isn’t real, and you are. I spent the better part of two decades trying to convince myself that I wasn’t something I knew myself to be because I didn’t fit a very specific, very toxic model of what society says transgender people are, and trust me when I say that my life story is radically different from Amanda’s. It’s okay to be trans and also gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, or anything else. It’s okay to be trans and not pass (and you can still be legitimately beautiful without passing), and it’s okay to be trans and pass and go completely stealth. It’s okay to be a trans man. It’s okay to be genderqueer, or to change identities more than once in your life, or to feel you have no gender at all. It’s okay to be trans and never pursue any of the medical aspects of transitioning, and it’s also okay to be trans and alter your body in whatever ways you want. There is no wrong way to express and embody your most authentic self! You are beautiful, and you deserve to have your body and identity and agency respected.

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IF I WAS YOUR GIRL will be available from Flatiron Books on May 3, 2016.

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