Meredith Russo's YA novel is one that is close to her heart. Russo has dealt with gender identity issues, and If I Was Your Girl explores this topic with class and sensitivity.
Amanda Hardy is a new girl in high school, moving in with her father, after something happened while she was living with her mom.
Through chapters that are set in the past we find out what happened to Amanda that led her to have to start anew.
Amanda was born Andrew Hardy, but always felt like a girl. He expressed this early on. Now Andrew is Amanda, having undergone hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery.
Russo doesn't focus on the medical aspect, instead centering her novel around what it might be like for a teenager to attempt to change genders. Amanda wants to date, but her past as a boy isn't something most teenage boys would be able to handle. She wants to make friends, but the viewpoints and religion of some people she encounters at her school make being honest difficult.
Amanda wants a normal high school experience. However, it is hard to know who you can trust. Her own father still finds it difficult to deal with having a daughter and not a son.
This is a thought provoking novel about a topic that we are seeing in the news more and more frequently. Russo's author note at the book's end does highlight how she has taken some liberties with this story, making the surgery seem much easier than it really is. However, I can see this book as the start of many good conversations.