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.

Pride Flag Book Tag!

It’s June which means it’s Pride month, I obviously wasn’t going to miss a chance to post about Pride! One of my closest friends is part of the LGBTQ community, I wrote an open letter about them coming out here. So I celebrate pride and I celebrate hard for all the wonderful people I know! So this tag that I watched on Books with Chloe seemed perfect (original creator Common Spence)! As always if you want to do this tag go ahead and make sure you let me know! So here we go!

1. Red (Life) – A book with a spirited protagonist totally proud of who they are. Someone who gives you LIFE

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I went slightly off here by choosing a non-fiction book. I also realised I need to read a lot more novels with LGBTQ protagonists. I adore Melanie Murphey and her book talks openly about her life as a Bisexual woman (and even has merch with the bisexual flag). She is confident, sure of herself and takes no prisoners. You can read my review here and catch her channel here.

2. Orange (Healing) – A book that made you, as the reader, find a deeper meaning or catharsis in your own life

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This is one of my favourite books of all time. I read it at 17 and I think it was one of the first books I read with the protagonist having a lesbian experience. This novel sparked a love for looking at the treatment of women, which went on to take over my degree once I got to university. I started looking at myself and the world around me. It made me re-evaluate a lot  in terms of myself too just before I went to university.

3. Yellow (Sunshine) – A book that fills you with so much joy it could brighten even your darkest day

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This might seem like an odd choice for some but the friendship in this was amazing, the resolution makes my heart happy and just the journey that they go on together. One of my best friends is gay, a lot of people used to think we were a couple or he ‘wanted something’ but it was, and still is, one of the closest friendships I have. This book reminded me of that and challenged what people ‘should’ want and be doing with their lives.

 

4. Green (Nature) – A book that is set out of this world — a reality different to our own

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Dreadnought is set in a world where superheroes are known and part of everyday life. Dani is struggling and feels, deep down, that she is a girl. When superhero Dreadnought dies, Dani is given her wish of a female body, but she also takes the cape and becomes Dreadnought. I loved this novel. Review here.

5. Blue (Peace) – A book where one of the characters finds peace with a difficult truth

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This novel follows Amanda, the new girl at school. Her plan is to blend in, that is until she meets Grant her feelings for him could ruin everything. At her previous school Amanda was Andrew. This is an own voices novel where Amanda needs to find herself and where she belongs in the world.

6. Purple (Spirit) – A book that deals with LGBT+ themes and religion

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Love is Love is a collection to benefit the victims of the Pulse shooting. This is a stretch for this part of the tag but there are elements within this talking about religion but from the writers themselves about how love is love, despite what any religion says.

 

 

 

Sunday Seven: Reasons to go to Brighton Pride!

This weekend I went to my first Pride Festival ever! Abbie and I trekked down to Brighton (in the middle of all the Waterloo closures, not fun) to celebrate love for everyone and to visit Ali while he was working the festival. So, why should you attend Pride? Here are 7 reasons…

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1.This oversized deck chair

Yes, yes I am putting this as a reason. I’m also grateful no one managed to get a picture of me and my tiny legs trying to get out of said deck chair.

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2. The People 

Everyone is happy at Pride and just lovely. Here are two amazing guys we met watching the parade, they also had pink sparkly batons. We shared glitter, spoke to random people, took pictures of groups. It was just a great friendly atmosphere.

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3. You can dance to great, cheesy music

Here I am dancing in the 1985 tent. Yep, there was a 1985 tent. The whole festival was full of incredible music but my heart was definitely with anything cheesy, I wasn’t disappointed. Even if I didn’t know that many of the tunes playing when I was in the tent.

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4. The Parade

Everyone in Brighton gets involved in the Parade. I’ve never seen anything like it, as well as a variety of communities, there were huge brands, all the emergency services. Everyone covered in glitter and stars and rainbows. The floats are huge and absolutely amazing, they also literally stop the whole city centre.

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5. Glitter and bright colours everywhere.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen more glitter in my life than at Pride. Above is how I started my day, pink and blue eyeshadow and multicoloured stars. I thought I was prepared. It was so glittery that even the floor on the street was covered in glitter, all the toilets, everything. All. The. Glitter.

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6. To have a great day with your friends 

Abbie and I got to have a great time being silly, drinking wine and just having a damn good time at the best party we’ve ever been to.

 

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7. To celebrate love and remember those who can’t 

This is the whole reason for Pride. We’re celebrating all kinds of love. We’re also remembering those who have died for their love, those who cannot be open in love and more.

 

A big thank you to my best friend Abbie for taking a lot of these photos while we were trying to say phone battery ❤

Book Review: Dreadnought – April Daniels

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After witnessing a superhero fight between the ultimate hero, Dreadnought and a new unknown villain, Danny’s life is going to change forever. As Dreadnought dies he gives Danny a gift like no other, his powers and the body he’s always longed for. Daniel, becomes Danielle.

Yes everyone, we have a transgender superhero and about time too! I heard about this book from CeCe at Problemsofabooknerd over on Booktube and immediately went and put in a request to Netgalley,which I was lucky enough to be granted. I wanted to read this on holiday and did so in less than 24 hours. If that’s not enough to get you excited for this book, then I don’t know what is.

Daniels is a brilliant writer, she doesn’t make this a disney-type happy story. Danny has to deal with a lot through the novel and her transition. She deals with transphobia, an abusive parent and sexism after transitioning, all of that on top of getting some of the most powerful super powers ever known. Just what a 15-year old needs to deal with while going to High School.

One of the best things about this novel, which has been mentioned before, is that this sets out to show that superheroes aren’t instantly good and uncomplicated people. Within the novel Danny does struggle with the judgements of others because of their own prejudices because her transformation includes a transition of gender. This was really interesting as it challenges the idea that superheroes all being instantly accepting. On the other hand, Daniels also explores that not everyone with powers wants to be a well known super-hero, something that not many of us would have considered.

I have so much love for Danny and another character, Calamity, although I won’t spoil too much other than she’s an amazing character and persona, I could see her in my head so clearly. The relationship that evolves between them is just something that the novel needed. I cannot love it any more than I already do.

If you love superheroes, action and diversity then Dreadnought is one for you. I gave this wonderful novel five stars, a rare score but it truly deserves it. So much has been packed into this book to set up a series and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next in the series, Sovereign which is released THIS MONTH. I honestly can’t contain my excitement to see what’s going to happen next to Danny after that ending.

As always thank you to the publisher and April Daniels for this copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Book Review: The New Girl: A Trans Girl Tells It How It Is – Rhyannon Styles

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Imagine feeling lost in your own body. Imagine spending years living a lie, denying what makes you ‘you’. This was Ryan’s reality. He had to choose: die as a man or live as a woman.

Rhyannon is brilliant, to put it simply. Throughout her life she has been a light in what sounds like quite a bland place to live for someone so fabulous. After being assigned male and named Ryan at birth, Rhyannon knew she was different. From her earliest memories she wanted to be a girl. At the age of 30 her dream finally came through, this is her story.

I’m a huge fan of reading about people’s journeys and how they have faced adversity. I listened as Rhyannon narrated her story, the highs and the lows and what it was like growing up in a small town and labelled ‘gay’ to living in the city and realising who she really was.

What makes this stand out for me is how Rhyannon adresses her family and their reaction to her transition. I appreciate the honesty that she has about how she and her family differed about her being Trans, how families can struggle and feel the need to grieve the person they thought they knew. I feel this could really help young people who go through a similar experience not feel so alone.

The only issue I had with this book is that it seems to be divided in two, but not in an obvious way. Rhyannon has decided that she would first tell her story in relation to happiness and light-heartedness but later reveal her ‘b-side’ as she calls it. With this there was a bit of a risk that people would give up before that point, I know I wondered if the story was sugar coated until I got to this point. It’s not a case of wanting misery, rather I wanted to know more about how Rhyannon felt prior to transition.

I gave this 4 stars. I found Rhyannon to be intelligent, insightful and show her feelings well throughout the book. There is also humour in the book as Rhyannon looks back and considers both the good and the bad in relation to her experience. I’d definitely recommend for an informative read.

Feminist Friday: Born or Becoming a Woman?

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If you’ve ever studied Feminism or Women’s writing you’ll know the quote I’m thinking of when I started to write this post. It started in France with one of the greatest feminist writers of all time; ‘one is not born, but rather becomes a woman’ Simone de Beauvior argued and how right she was. There’s a lot of debate in feminism about what feminism means to each and every one of us. I enjoy debate, it’s healthy in an intelligent society as long as we are willing to listen to each other.

I truly believe that no one is born into a gender. I wrote essay after essay in university about how gender is socially constructed, it’s not in our DNA. I loved those classes, because I really passionately believed in de Beauvior, in Judith Butler etc, I also wanted to apply it to a modern problem. Something that many wanted to ignore. I 100% believe we need to include Transgender women in the fight for equality and feminism. A few years ago Germaine Greer made very unfair and uneducated assumptions about Trans women.

While I myself am I white Cis female, I care very strongly about the LGBTQ community. I truly believe that all women, no matter what, have a right to equality. There’s no one shape for a woman, no one idea, that’s what feminism is about! Being ourselves and being respected. In each culture there is an idea of what a man is supposed to be and what a woman is supposed to be, it’s not hard-wired because of our genitals. It’s who we feel we are.

If someone goes through the experience of living in the wrong body, having to tell that to the people they love in the fear of rejection and then try to fit in with other women then, damn, they’ve tried harder than me. If they are not a woman then I am certainly not. I have my own struggles, problems and issues, we all do but to be insulted after all that and be told you’re still not accepted? I don’t believe in it, to me it goes against everything feminism stands for. We are what is in our hearts, not our pants.

We each become who we are, who we feel we are inside. Some become women, some become men. We, hopefully, become who we are inside.

I’d love to open up a conversation with you all in the comments below or on Twitter about this! If I have any trans readers who maybe want to talk privately DM me (@chloemetzger) or drop me an email on chloefmetzger@gmail.com, as always I’d love to hear from you all!

 

 

Feminist Fridays: Including All Women

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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??