“I’m not brave,” I said, smiling despite myself. “Bravery implies I had a choice. I’m just me, you know?”
Amanda is the new girl in school and she’s trying to keep a big secret. Amanda is transgender and moves to Tennessee in hopes of keeping her head down and getting through high school. Soon she makes friends and meets Grant.
If I Was Your Girl was such a charming read. I really enjoyed it. The plot, characters and hilarious sense of humour just made this a really great book. I really loved how the narrative jumps between real-time events and Amanda’s childhood. It added great suspense and was equally heart-breaking. (don’t want to spoil but my heart broke at the diary scene)
I’m not a huge romance reader, which is why I put this book off for so long, and while their romance came across generic, I found it so sweet. Maybe my cynical self needed some adorable picnic dates and cute film dates. They were so lovable and dorky together that I didn’t care it cheesy. I also may or may not had become a mushy mess on the train when I read the Halloween scenes. (Spoiler: Grant goes as Boba Fett and Amanda dresses as Leia. IT’S SO CUTE I DIED)
What I really enjoyed was the happy ending. In our media, TV, films and novels, there are so many characters who are LGBT+ and are constantly killed off for shock factor. Amanda gets a happy ending, despite everything that happens, Amanda’s happy.
Overall, I admired this book. The biggest issue I could think of was pacing in certain scenes but I definitely recommend this to anyone and add this to your TBR if you haven’t! (Also, I loved the separate author’s note Russo adds at the end: one for her cis readers and one for her trans readers.)
I should note while it’s wonderful that anyone reads my reviews at all, but I should remind you if you don’t know: this is a story about a trans girl written by a trans woman and I am a cis reader. This obviously means my perspective is limited and I will point you all towards reviews written by trans writers. (edit: i thought I bookmarked them but it appears I didn’t so once I find them I’ll link them up)
Written in the Stars is a familiar tale that goes unspoken. A story that is real life for thousands of women who find themselves facing it every day. Naila’s parents have always given her a choice, but when it came to marriage, it was simple: they will choose her husband. Naila’s already fallen in love, and when her parents find out, she is has whisked away to Pakistan under the pretence that they are visiting family. But the truth is darker, and Naila doesn’t have a say in the matter.
Written in the Stars was such an engaging and compelling read. From the very beginning to the very the end, everything goes high-speed for Naila and towards the end, you’re left thinking, will she make it?
Naila is a great protagonist. I loved her hopefulness, her love for Saif and her faith in believing she will make it back home. There are moments when you think there’s no going back for her, but she fights back. The writing style is simple, but it works here. It was straight and simple to the point, so we’re not distracted by everything that happens to Naila. We, as the reader, are aware of her marriage from the very beginning, but to Naila, she’s completely clueless, and the tension rose with ever clue that popped up, unknowingly to Naila. My favourite parts were descriptions of Pakistan and its culture. Its markets, food and the houses packed to the brim with visiting family.
However, it didn’t read entirely polished, with some scenes happening too quickly and the ending could’ve definitely been slowed down a bit, considering what happens. But, nonetheless, this is a good book.
Also, the author’s note was perfect. Saeed mentions that forced marriages can happen anywhere, regardless of culture, country or religion. And I believe Saeed even wrote an article between the distinction between an arranged marriage and a forced one that many people aren’t aware of.
Every Heart A Doorway has one of the best concepts ever. We all dream we can be whisked away through a wardrobe door, fall down a hole and be transported to entirely new worlds. But Every Heart is about the kids that come back, whether they want to or not. Here come Eleanor West’s Home For Wayward Children where desperate parents send their children who they wish to go back to being ‘normal’. But Eleanor is someone who has also returned and commits her life to providing a safe place for them. Tragedy strikes the day Nancy enters the home, and with her new-found friends, they try to stop it before it gets them.
For a story so short, it tackles and includes so many topics: gender issues, what we perceive as wrong or right, mental health. There are so many lyrical and poetic lines in here, it was beautiful.
“Because ‘boys will be boys’ is a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Lundy. “They’re too loud, on the whole, to be easily misplaced or overlooked; when they disappear from the home, parents send search parties to dredge them out of swamps and drag them away from frog ponds. It’s not innate. It’s learned. But it protects them from the doors, keeps them safe at home. Call it irony, if you like, but we spend so much time waiting for our boys to stray that they never have the opportunity. We notice the silence of men. We depend upon the silence of women.”
McGuire knows how to write creepy. I went into this thinking it was like Miss Peregrine’s Home, but Every Heart is much eerier and strange. But you can’t mention this book without mentioning the diversity. It makes me so happy to see authors really understanding how important it is for our fiction to be diverse. While I was excited to see such a diversity of characters, and all of them have such well-built tales and backstories, I struggled to feel for them. I think it may be due to its length, but this concept was way too big to fit into such a small novel. I would’ve loved to have seen more worldbuilding. The High-Logic and High Nonsense confused me at first, but it interested me. There are so many concepts that are introduced, but not much of it is actually explained. But I believe the third novel will continue the events in this one, so I’m definitely excited to see what happens next!
Overall, I definitely recommend Every Heart A Doorway since it’s a strange yet entertaining read.