There is so much hype around this book that I knew I had to read it. And I will admit that I went into this book blind. I did not know the premise and I think that made a difference.
Amanda Hardy recently moved to a very small town in Tennessee called Lambertville. Her parents are divorced and she has chosen to live with her dad for a spell. While at school Amanda is approached by Grant, a boy who was actually asking for her number for his friend Parker. Grant and Amanda hit it off and they became instant friends. That seemes to be the only easy thing taking place in Amanda’s life right now. She has a very hard time figuring out who she is as she is a transgender adolescent. Amanda was born a boy, Andrew, and became a girl. Yet nobody in the town, aside from her dad, knows her ‘secret’ and she lives in fear that everyone will find out.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read this book. Yes, I was blown away because I haven’t read a story with a transgender MC before and this was the first of its kind. I do agree that this is an important book and it is one that will be talked about for a while, but I did have a few issues with the story. The author herself makes note at the end about a possible lack of realism with her story:
“I’m worried that you might take Amanda’s story as gospel, especially since it comes from a trans woman. This prospect terrifies me, actually! I am a storyteller, not an educator. I have taken liberties with what I know reality to be.”
I do understand all too well about how difficult it is to fit into a small town where most people are narrow minded and cannot see past the end of their nose. I grew up in a town just like that. However, I am a straight girl that grew up in that town, not trying to keep a secret. I just believe things were a little easier for Amanda to fit in as she came out of her surgery and medication looking 100% like a woman, but she also has the luxury of being an attractive woman. For the sake of the story, that had to make things somewhat easier than if she still looked more like a boy than a girl.
I do wish a little more had been done with the plot. I know that sounds vague but I think the relationship between Amanda and Grant should have been explored more. As it was, it felt a little cheesy and campy with the professing feelings so quickly. I wanted this book to show the realistic conflicts and issues that may come from being a transgender after surgery. What happened to Amanda in the beginning of the story was harsh, I will not disagree with that, but it felt like everything after moving in with her dad was just too easy going. I think that’s how I want to say it? Amanda still had some bumps in the road ahead of her and she finds out people that are supposed to be her friends really aren’t but in the end, Amanda still has her family that loves her and her support group of friends that have gone through the same surgery/trials/tribulations.
I will end with this – this is an important book and it will remain an important. I do think everyone should read it as a coming of age, trying to get through high school years with bullies, never give up on yourself book. Sadly, I just wanted a little more out of it.