by M-E Girard
Hardcover: 384 pages
Published by: Harper Collins in September 6, 2016
Available from: Amazon.com Amazon.ca Chapters/Indigo Barnes & Noble
* Links to purchase updated on September 7, 2016*
All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she’s always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she’s trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she’s not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty. But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth--that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she’ll have to man up.
About The Author:
M-E GIRARD is a Canadian writer of contemporary fiction---mostly young adult fiction, sometimes new adult fiction, usually queer fiction, and always about girls. Her debut novel GIRL MANS UP will be published in September 2016 by HarperTeen/HarperCollins and HarperCollins Canada. M-E was a fellow of the 2013 and 2015 Lambda Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices. Her writing has appeared in Plenitude Magazine. M-E is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and the Writers' Community of Durham Region.
Wow! Talk about pull hard at my heartstrings, yep, this book gave me all sorts of the “big feels”. First, let me confess that I do know the author. I met her in 2012 at a writers' event in Huntsville, called the Muskoka Novel Marathon. There we sat for 72 hours straight looking across the room at each other while we typed up the next bestselling Canadian novels. That year, we didn't win, but we both tied as runner-ups in the YA (Young Adult) category, M-E for Strings and Baggage and myself for Pushing Skinny. From there on in, we were friends, encouraging each other to write and write, until we both made it. Unfortunately, I’m still dangling in the wind, but this girl hit GOLD with Girl Mans Up. Seriously, this book deserves all the recognition it is going to get.
Honestly, I’m a straight girl, who has many gay and queer friends, who educate me on some of the gender-non-conforming people in the world. This book is brilliant in the way it tells the story of Pen, a Portuguese-Canadian gamer girl dealing with an identity crisis, being a Tom-Boy (silly reference, but we used that term it in the 80’s) on the outside (which I was referred to all the time) but inside, her heart was breaking with trying to deal with asshole friends and family who thought they knew best for her, when they ab-so-freaking-lutely didn’t. Everyone was pushing her to be something she didn’t want to be. Basically, she wanted to be with girls, well, one girl in particular. This story has secrets that Pen keeps from almost everyone, and as the plot slowly unfolds, one at a time, people discover her secrets and deal with them differently. Let’s just say, some people take it better than others. Pen is the perfect protagonist, stumbling at first, confused, until she finds something within herself that gives her confidence and allows her to feel comfortable in the choices she is making for herself. I loved this book, especially since my daughter is marrying a Portuguese guy (who is also a gamer, along with a couple of his brothers) surrounded by a whole close-knit family with old-school Portuguese thoughts and values, therefore making me laugh when I recognized so many phrases that Pen’s family were using (especially in regards to respect). It made the book feel authentic, which made me love it even more! You definitely need to read this book and I highly recommend Girl Mans Up being in EVERY SINGLE library across the country!
I loved this book because the world needs to hear Pen's story, because I loved reading about the relationships between Pen and her Portuguese family, because I loved reading about someone finding their way through life and being extremely happy with the outcome of finding out who they really are… and because I love my writing friends and I'm proud of everything they have accomplished. M-E Rocks! Can’t wait to see what she writes next.