Book Review: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

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If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo Review

When I opened my copy of If I Was Your Girl I saw a long list of awards, recognitions, and reviews of praise. Now that I have finished the book, I can understand why. This novel is groundbreaking, painfully real, and makes a meaningful argument for representation. 

Amanda is an eighteen-year-old high school senior who has been through a lot in her short life. The story switches timelines from when Amanda was young to the present day so that the reader can begin to understand the journey she has been on. Amanda was born a boy but has known for the majority of her life that she wanted to be a girl. She attempted suicide a few years back, went through the transition process, and experienced a lot of bullying throughout her school years. Her mom thinks Amanda needs a fresh start, so Amanda moves in with her dad (who has lived in a small town ever since Amanda’s parents got divorced) for her senior year. Amanda keeps her secret to herself at the beginning of her stay, wanting to just live a normal teenage life. She quickly makes friends with a group of girls and she meets a boy she really likes. All this excitement makes Amanda feel good about her move, but she knows she’ll need to tell her new social circle about her past eventually.

This book inspires me to be more honest and accepting of others. There is a scene in the story where Amanda’s dad calls her brave and she explains that she doesn’t think she’s brave; she just thinks she’s herself. There are so many people out there who just want to live life as their authentic selves, Amanda’s story will hopefully bring hope to others. I was deeply moved by this story and I think it will have a great impact.

Review by Cathy Liebenau

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Song of Achilles

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The Song of Achilles an audiobook review

By Madeline Miller
Narrated by Frazer Douglas

The Song of Achilles is written from the perspective of Patrocles, beloved companion of Achilles. This is an interesting reimagining of Homer’s classic The Iliad. This is both an action adventure and a love story.

The ancient Greeks had a different outlook on sexuality and this book reflects that. So, if a same-sex relationship is not interesting or offensive to you, then do not pick up this book. If you are interested in The Iliad and other mythology, this book is worth trying.

The narration for the book is excellent. Frazer Douglas does a good job of distinguishing the various characters. At first it is weird to hear a confident and self assured adult voice for Achilles, but that is a great rendering of the character in the story. He is a half god after all.

Tom Taylor
Library Director

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Book Review: Human Touch by Mitch Albom

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Human Touch: A Story in Real Time by Mitch Albom

One of my favorite authors is Mitch Albom. When the coronavirus pandemic started Mitch Albom decided to write a real-time novel about hope. Each week he posted a chapter of the book. I read an interview where he talked about the process of writing this book. Unlike published books, this book was unedited, there were no rewrites, it was just his words typed out and put online. The book is about four families that share a single street corner. They have become close over the years and get together each weekend. One family is of Chinese descent and during the book, you see how hard it is for this family as criticism against their heritage arises. There is a doctor and his family. He faces many challenges as this virus progresses and eventually hits him personally.  The town preacher struggles when he is notified to shut down his church. Will he follow his faith and put other lives in danger? The fourth family runs the local mill in town. His shelves are empty and supplies are hard to get. He and his wife deal with rude customers and rebellion in his own family. The housekeeper of one family is the mother of a very special little boy named Moses. Why has Moses never been sick? What secret is his mother hiding and why does she think he is the answer to healing the world? Mitch Albom wrote this book to provide a ray of hope and I believe he did that for me.

By Karyn Schemm, Assistant Director

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Book Review: Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai

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Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai

Content Warnings: abuse (past/discussion of), war discussions, PTSD, assault (discussion), anxiety attacks

Former model and young widow, Katrina King, craves a low-profile life, but when she meets a cute guy at a coffee shop, she’s suddenly viral on Twitter. Desperate to escape before the identity of #CuteCafeGirl is discovered, Katrina’s bodyguard Jas Singh whisks her away to his family’s orchard. Will Katrina be able to keep her growing affection for Jas at bay? Will Jas’ long-running family dispute get in the way? Will Katrina keep her identity secret?

I settled down with Girl Gone Viral thinking it would be a fluffy, sweet romance with little filler, but was I wrong — Girl Gone Viral is so much more! This is the second in the Modern Love series by Alisha Rai, and while I haven’t read the first book in the series, I don’t think that affected my reading of Girl Gone Viral.

Both of the main characters struggle with mental health (depression, anxiety, and PTSD), and the discussions of therapy, how to support a friend that needs help, and complex family dynamics were handled well and with compassion. It’s not often that I find a fiction book that addresses mental health in such an everyday, commonplace way. I’m encouraged to see the beginnings of the normalization of mental health and therapy in contemporary fiction.  This is also the second book I’ve read recently (the previous was the YA book Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith) that dealt with online targeting, doxing, stalking, and harassment. I am pleased to see more contemporary novels address the issue.

The pacing of the romance was near perfect. I liked the slow burn and the will-they-or-won’t-they drama. I did feel, however, the ending was rushed and would have liked a few more pages fleshing that out.

Overall, I really enjoyed this quick read and will look for the first in the series.

By Sara McEachern

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