Having recently made it most of the way through the audiobook version of a certain ‘award winning’ Young Adult novel with a transgender character which was quite possibly the most offensive thing I’ve seen the genre offer so far, it took me a while to work up the courage to start reading Just Girls, by Rachel Gold. But I had made the commitment before picking up the Awful Book Which Must Not Be Named, and it’s a good thing I had because I may have passed up on a wonderful book.
Just Girls is gorgeous. It did everything right that the other book did wrong.
The story follows Ella and Tucker, two girls just starting college. One day, Tucker overhears some girls talking shit about a new transgender student. Apparently, one of these girls saw some paperwork while working at the admissions office that stated a new student was a trans girl. Basically all the horrible misconceptions about transgender people come out of these girls’ mouths. Incensed, Tucker turns around and shouts “You have anything to say to my face?” before even realizing that she has effectively come out as a trans woman. Tucker is not transgender, but she keeps up the pretense, deciding that she can take whatever abuse comes her way. She was an out lesbian in high school, how much worse can it be?
Tucker learns that it can indeed be worse, but instead of crumbling under the abuse, she sticks to her guns.
When Ella meets Tucker, and realizes what she’s doing to unwittingly protect her, she is in awe that anybody would do what Tucker did, risk their own safety for someone she doesn’t even know. The two girls become friends, learning about each other and protecting each other from haters, angry TERFs, and shitty relationships.
Rachel Gold does a wonderful job of giving life to every character in Just Girls. Ella began transition early in life, taking hormone blockers to prevent male characteristics from developing in puberty. She has a supportive family, which is a refreshing change. While a lot of trans and queer kids face rejection from their families, and that is a serious problem, not all of them do, thankfully. Ella is petite where Tucker is tall and strong. It’s easy for people to believe Tucker’s claims, and easy for tiny Ella to avoid any suspicion about her history.
I fell a little bit in love with Tucker. Her strength, selflessness, and courage felt real. The story switches point of view between the two girls, with Ella’s chapters narrated in first person and Tucker’s in third. It took me a little while to even realize this was happening, because it just works.
Surrounding Ella and Tucker is a motley group of college students from all walks of life. Notable among them is Nico, a genderqueer long-time friend of Ella’s. Nico’s pronouns keep changing from one chapter to the next as yo tries out different things to see what feels right, and this is handled seamlessly in the narrative. Nico’s assigned-at-birth gender is never revealed, and while one of the friends keeps trying to find out, this serves more to point out how Nico has no need to reveal this.
I think everyone would be entertained by this book, and may also learn things they didn’t know about gender politics without being lectured about it. Gold does a FANTASTIC job weaving the debate between the radical feminists and the transgender community into the narrative.
Most importantly, perhaps, the book is fun. Yes, bad things happen, but good things too. It’s life, with all its bumps and twists. And as in real life, friendship and love trump fear.
About the Book – About the Author – Prizes!!!
About the prizes: Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of Just Girls! Here’s what you need to do…
- Enter the Rafflecopter contest
- Leave a comment on my blog
That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win the first gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found HERE. The other two prizes will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official Just Girls tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!
About the book: Jess Tucker sticks her neck out for a stranger—the buzz is someone in the dorm is a trans girl. So Tucker says it’s her, even though it’s not, to stop the finger pointing. She was an out lesbian in high school, and she figures she can stare down whatever gets thrown her way in college. It can’t be that bad. Ella Ramsey is making new friends at Freytag College, playing with on-campus gamers and enjoying her first year, but she’s rocked by the sight of a slur painted on someone else’s door. A slur clearly meant for her, if they’d only known. New rules, old prejudices, personal courage, private fear. In this stunning follow-up to the groundbreaking Being Emily, Rachel Gold explores the brave, changing landscape where young women try to be Just Girls.Get Just Girls through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
About the author: An award-winning marketing strategist and author, Rachel Gold also spent a decade as a reporter in the LGBT community where she learned many of her most important lessons about being a woman from the transgender community. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and Religious Studies from Macalester College, and a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Hamline University. When she’s not “translating English for English-speaking people” or working on her novels, you can find Rachel online checking out the latest games. Connect with Rachel on her website, Facebook, Twitter,or GoodReads.