Book Review: Birthday – Meredith Russo

Two kids, Morgan and Eric, are bonded for life after being born on the same day at the same time. We meet them once a year on their shared birthday as they grow and change: as Eric figures out who he is and how he fits into the world, and as Morgan makes the difficult choice to live as her true self. Over the years, they will drift apart, come together, fight, make up, and break up—and ultimately, realize how inextricably they are a part of each other. 

After reading Meredith Russo’s first novel and absolutely adoring it I knew I had to pick up this one as soon as I could get my hands on it. And, as I hoped, the book did not disappoint.

The fact this book is spread out across 5 years just adds to how impressed I was by it. It’s not easy to have characters show growth in such a short space of time and it was pulled off really well. Both Eric and Morgan evolve throughout the novel but also keep the essence of who they are when we meet them in the first chapter.

I think the book could have been double the length and I’d still have loved it. I can understand why it wasn’t but the issues within are so complex I wanted to know even more. In particular, I wanted to know more about the relationship between them both when they were small, more about Morgan’s mother and their relationship.

It’s undeniable that this is an incredibly tough read at times, I fought back tears while reading and wanted to reach through the book and hug both of the characters. That said, most of my love went to Morgan, I can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a body that isn’t mine and have to pretend around the people you love. It also made me consider the fact that we really don’t know what’s going on in a someones head and the need to be kind to people.

Meredith Russo herself is a trans women and I think this only adds to what we can learn as a reader. Russo is writing Morgan’s struggle with her body through the lense of someone who has been through it. We definitely need more own voices novels and Russo is one to watch.

I don’t think it’s going to be any surprise that I gave this 5 stars. This was incredibly well written and I felt very emotional reading. While I am not trans, I can appreciate that as Russo writes, she is writing from the heart. I’ve recommended this to so many friends already as soon as I finished it.

Feminist Fridays: Including All Women

girls-women-happy-sexy-53364-large

Feminism is about equality. Equality for all women to be treated the same as women. There are two key words in that sentence equality and all. When I was 18 I wrote a project on ‘The image of African-American women in post-1900s literature’, while writing it I read a lot about black feminism, I found it interesting but didn’t really understand it at the time. Recently I’ve noticed the distinct lack of inclusion of women of ethnic minorities when I read about feminism. So many of the great feminist writers and speakers are white, and often middle class. There’s nothing wrong with hearing their experiences, but they cannot speak for all women. I am also a white, educated young women and the important thing is that I realise other women have opinions and stories and we need to listen to them. We need more diversity.

For a long time I thought wearing a hijab was oppressive, how dare a religion tell a woman what she can and cannot wear. That was until I met a friend of mine at university, Salma, as well as speaking to other girls in my class about why they chose to cover their heads. Now Salma is one of the most kick ass people I met at uni, we spoke a few times and it isn’t a big deal to her. She wears a scarf because she wants to. Good for her. It doesn’t stop her being who she is, funny and kind, but instead of feminism trying to tell her what she does it wrong, we should stand up for the right for women to wear what they like. I’ve heard countless accounts of black women I’ve known being treated unfairly because they are black and female, or I’ve read about black women not being allowed to wear their hair naturally at work. We should be working together to beat this discrimination.

I also can’t understand why some people,I’m looking at you Germaine Greer, won’t accept Trans women into feminism. They are women, they have been born into the wrong body. Hell being a woman is hard, anyone who’s willing to go through the immense pressure and change of making your body how it should be is a kind of hero to me. Why can’t people accept these women into feminism and fight for their rights, the right for them to use the damn bathroom or get access to good medical care.

I completely understand that different women will have difference issues and opinions but we’re all women. If we work together, respecting each others choices and personal feminism think of how much we could get achieved and how much we could learn too. I’m a feminist and I care about ALL women’s rights, regardless of race,choice or sexual orientation. Who’s with me??