If I Was Your Girl Review: Big-Hearted Novel About Being Who You Are By Meredith Russo

“For as long as I could remember, I had been apologizing for existing, for trying to be who I was, to live the life I was meant to lead.” 

Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Eighteen-year-old Amanda Hardy is ready for a fresh start at Lambertville High School. After being severely bullied at her old school and ending up in the hospital with multiple injuries, Amanda wants nothing more but to survive her senior year and move far away from the south after graduation. However, unlike her life back in Smyrna, Georgia, Amanda is the new it-girl and is finally creating genuine friendships. Yet, she has a deep secret that she is desperately trying to keep from ruining her new life. In her old school, Amanda was known as Andrew. After meeting the cute and easygoing Grant, Amanda’s resolve is put to the test as she gets closer to him.

This book is absolutely a page-turner from the very beginning. However, what makes this publication so beautiful is that it is a fantastic work of fiction by an actual transgender author. In her debut novel, Meredith Russo perfectly communicates the experience of being a transgender teenager very clearly, while indirectly highlighting the importance of being true to oneself and maintaining a level of self-worth. I enjoyed this story so much because of what Amanda Hardy had to endure. In high school, bullying is a social norm, and Amanda—being as different as she is—makes for an easy target. Yet, it’s usually how one deals with being bullied that will either help them to push forward or lead them to fall apart. At the beginning of the story, we meet Amanda who is extremely terrified and shy, crumbling inside when she receives awkward looks or hurtful comments. But towards the end, Amanda develops the courage to be proud of who she is and refuses to apologize for choosing to live her true self.

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Five Feet Apart Review: grab the tissues now!

Five Feet Apart Review: grab the tissues now!

Review

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Seventeen-year-olds, Stella Grant and Will Newman are cystic fibrosis (CF) patients who meet in a hospital where they experience falling in love for the first time while dealing with the uncertainty of their future. Stella’s a rule follower and control freak who is determined to increase her lung functionality in order to be approved for a lung transplant. She is meticulous in taking her medications and treatments, efficiently. Will, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. He’s a rule breaker who is tired of medications, treatments, and drug trials, which are often unsuccessful. Since he has also contracted B. cepacia on top of having CF, Will’s goal is to travel the world and live life to the fullest until his very last breath. However, as the two get to know each other, feelings are developed and the physical barriers of remaining six feet apart are tested.

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The Wicked King by Holly Black

“You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring. The first lesson is to make yourself that strong. “

It’s been five months since Jude Duarte successfully secured the royal crown of Elfhame onto Prince Cardan’s head, which in turn bounded his loyalty to her for a year and a day. However, holding on to her new power and role as seneschal to the High King is proving to be difficult when Jude learns that someone close to her means to betray her and threaten the lives of everyone she loves. With the political climate of Elfhame growing increasingly dangerous, how will Jude uncover the identity of the traitor, protect those she most dearly cares for and maintain control over The Wicked King?

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Children of Blood And Bone By Tomi Adeyemi

“You crushed us to build your monarchy on the backs of our blood and bone. Your mistake wasn’t keeping us alive. It was thinking we’d never fight back.” –Zelie

Seventeen-year-old Zelie Adebola is tired of the injustices against her people. Seventeen-year-old Zelie Adebola is tired of the injustices against her people. Under the king’s rule, Majis are targeted and killed daily for merely who they are. With the help of her brother, Tzain, and an unexpected friendship with a noble girl, Zelie is determined to bring back magic to all Majis in order to fight back against all the injustices. Will Zelie be able to bring back change for her people in time or will she be killed by the king’s guard trying?

Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book was absolutely terrific and an emotional read for me. For one main reason, this is a West African fantasy novel. I think it’s safe to say there aren’t many books out there in this genre that focuses on black cultThis book was absolutely terrific, and an emotional read for me. I think it’s safe to say that there aren’t many books out there in this genre that focuses on black culture or history. Tomi Adeyemi did a fantastic job of presenting the Orisha mythology while weaving together an undeniable truth of African American struggles in a heart-wrenching story.

One of the many things Adeyemi does well is catching the emotions of her readers with her beautiful writing style. There are many parts in this book where the rawness of her description utterly wrecked me. Here’s an example:

” She hung from a tree like an ornament of death in the center of our mountain village . . .”

(P. 501)

Adeyemi doesn’t just write to tell a story—she writes to touch the soul. I cried, laughed, and screamed countless times while reading.

Also, Adeyemi brilliantly mirrors the condition of African Americans to that of the Majis people.

“We are the people who filled the King’s prisons, the people our kingdom turns into laborers. The people Orishans try to chase out of their features, outlawing our lineage . . .” (P. 27)

After magic disappears, Majis are targeted and killed. They are forced to live in poor conditions, and when they enter the “stocks,” or prison, it’s hard for them to leave. Today, African Americans are facing a similar plight, such as dealing with living restrictions due to gentrification within their communities and along with battling the statistics showing that the prison system is primarily filled with African Americans.

“Those stuck in the stocks toil endlessly, erecting palaces, building roads mining coal, and everything in between . . . It’s no more than a state-sentenced death sentence. An excuse to round up my people . . .” (P. 28)

It’s hard to overlook the significant message Adeyemi was sending to her readers. The hate that separates the people in this novel is the same hate we experience and give in reality today. I was entertained and educated. I was able to see how we perpetuate our negativity to justify survival and superiority. You’ll learn, if you haven’t already, why movements matter, why taking power back matters, why change is worth everything you have to give.

Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely! This is definitely my first five-star rating of this year! If you’re interested in rich history, power struggles, and fantasy, be sure to add Children of Blood and Bone to your reading list!