I agree with Meredith Russo when she says that Amanda’s story was simplified (since Amanda was overtly feminine, liked only boys, and decided to use both hormones and surgery to help her body to match her gender identity). I also agree with Russo’s *reason* for simplifying Amanda’s story — to remove some of the barriers that might keep readers from understanding and empathizing with the struggles of a young trans girl. Despite the fact that the story was more simplified than it could have been, nonetheless, I think it still has the potential to really open some people’s eyes to the more hidden struggles of trans youth. How most trans youth grow up hating their bodies because they don’t match what their brains are telling them. How they have to worry whether their friends and family will support or abandon them when they try to live as their authentic selves. And, especially, how they have to worry about whether this sensitive information will be leaked to people who would make them a target of hatred and violence. My heart was broken when Amanda’s dad tried to explain how hard it was for him to think about what could happen if the wrong people learned the truth. But this book was not all heartache and pain. There was also a good amount of love, both friendly and romantic. Yeah. This book had #AllTheFeels!
After the end of the audiobook, there is a note from the author that she reads herself. Meredith Russo provides a plea for suicidal people to seek help. She even provides hotline information for transgender- and GLBTQ-sensitive hotlines. Since this story might be triggering to people who have felt suicidal, especially if they are a member of the GLBTQ community, I think this was a very important addition. I also appreciated how Russo goes on to talk about how every person is entitled to his/her/their own choices in how to reflect (or not) their gender identity. Every trans person is a valid trans person, whether they choose to have surgery or not. To take hormones, or not. Whether they are gay, straight, bisexual, or asexual. There is no one “right” way to be trans, just as there is no one “right” way to be human at all. Every person needs to be true to his/her/their identity and should feel safe enough to live life as his/her/their authentic self. I hope that young trans people will find and read this book to know they are not alone… and I hope that young people who are not trans will find and read this book to better understand the struggles of the trans community and so they can become allies.