Book Review: Just Girls

Just GirlsI signed up for this review tour through the Novel Publicity group two months ago, when I thought I’d have more time… And I’m still feeling like I wish I had more time to re-read and really digest the meaty topics Rachel Gold tackled in her book, Just Girls. The blurb was intriguing enough I decided I needed to learn a new perspective:

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 University, 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.

As a cisgendered woman, I’ve long reveled in my femininity, as well as loved confounding expectations about what I, as a woman, might be able to achieve. This book takes all the conversations I’ve had on the topic and turns them inside out by addressing the feminist perspective through the LGBTQIA lens. The things Gold has her characters say about finding strength in femininity through feminism resonated strongly for me–even though I’ve been lucky enough to live a heteronormative life.

Most of the time I know that Emily’s more of whatever a woman is than I am. She actually likes femininity, and isn’t that the basis of feminism anyway? Not just making the world safe for women but for femininity so it’s seen as something powerful and not artificial. I mean, don’t you ever feel like people don’t take you seriously because you look like a girlie girl?

In the shadow of Emma Watson’s speech kicking off her position as UN Goodwill Ambassador, this book crystallized the many different populations who would benefit from the kind of equality she so eloquently argued for.

The book is told from alternating first-person and third-person perspectives, which, while a subtle structural underline to the gender duality that is the central theme of the book, had me flipping back and forth in the early chapters to figure out why I was confused. On the other hand, the writing was elegant and evocative so that when I turned the final page my overwhelmed response was “wow”.

There were a bunch of teaching moments throughout the book–but not in any heavy-handed or preaching way. I finally understood the reason it’s disrespectful to ignore an individual’s self-identification as being transgendered–and it has everything to do with how easily women’s own boundaries are disrespected in our society. I have to own up to my confusion about how to name/refer to an old HS friend, and vow from here on out, he is a he. The introduction of an intersex character was even more philosophically challenging, but all the characters were so intelligent about what drove their motivations I couldn’t help but think any one of them would be a wonderful friend–mostly because of the strength of character it took to live their convictions.

I would unequivocally recommend this to anyone who’s interested in learning more about what it’s like to be at risk of being targeted by hate crimes, anyone who’s interested in watching complex characters evolve through the first phases of their new adult status, and anyone who’s interested in understanding the broader perspective of feminism. As I mentioned, there are many teaching moments in the story, making it wholly appropriate for a well-rounded curriculum in sexual identity.

Tour 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…

  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. 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!

Rachel001AuthorPhotoAbout 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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One Response to “Book Review: Just Girls”

  1. naimeless says:

    First, thanks for joining the tour.
    Second – I really enjoyed reading your review. You talked about all the things I thought about while reading as well. I wouldn’t define myself as cisgendered, but I know that’s what every single person looking at me does.

    Not only is it a great book, your review certainly did it justice and it doesn’t hold back from talking about the issues. Thanks so much for being part of what has been a really eye-opening and awesome tour.

    Just so you know, cross posting your review gets you entered for an extra blogger only prize at the end of the tour. Just email us/me the links and we’ll make sure you’re entered. 🙂

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