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Girl Mans Up

Review

Girl Mans Up

M-E Girard’s GIRL MANS UP is the kind of book that has been missing in the young adult book world. The novel’s protagonist, Pen, knows exactly the type of girl that she wants to be, but her family and so-called friends all seem to have a problem with the way that she looks and acts. Pen is told she must show respect for her old-world European parents who want her to dress “like a girl," while her “best friend” Colby wants her to do his bidding to show loyalty, but all Pen wants is to be herself --- so she’ll have to man up.

"Girard has 'penned' a quick-paced, heartfelt story about the difficulties faced by LGBTQIA+ teens as they navigate the hard truths of life, true friendship, relationships, and family."

Girard has “penned” a quick-paced, heartfelt story about the difficulties faced by LGBTQIA+ teens as they navigate the hard truths of life, true friendship, relationships, and family. I appreciated the accessible language this novel employs to explore the complex issues of gender, presentation and sexuality. Pen felt like a real person I was in conversation with and I empathized with her struggling to be herself among less-than-accepting friends and family. Girard also carefully avoids using the word “normal,” opting instead for “regular” --- a small but effective and highly appreciated move away from a word that can be damaging to those who are so often wrongfully labeled as something other than society’s definition of the word. There were a few times where I was thrown by the Canadian colloquialisms and younger phrases, but perhaps it’s been too long since my high school days.

I am glad to see the number of books featuring realistic and relatable LGBTQIA+ characters, and I would consider GIRL MANS UP an excellent addition to this growing canon. This book deals with many issues including gender, sexuality, relationships, family and even sexual harassment, and all of these are dealt with in a way that is realistic, relatable and respectful. This novel was clearly written from a place of love and understanding --- I hope to see more novel from Girard in the future. I would recommend this book to any fans of realistic young adult stories, parents with LGBT+ children, and anyone looking for a poignant story about life, love, and friendship.

Reviewed by Katherine Szabo on September 28, 2016

Girl Mans Up
by M-E Girard