Special price $17.06 Regular price: $18.57
Publisher: Flatiron Books / Raincoast Books
Reviewer: Melissa on May 22, 2019
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
From Meredith Russo
, the award-winning author of If I Was Your
, a story about family, love, change, and fate. Two kids, Morgan and Eric, become lifetime friends (and maybe more) when they are born on the same day in the same hospital. We meet them once a year on their shared 13th to 18th birthdays as they grow and change: as Eric figures out how he fits into the world and as Morgan slowly makes the decision to live as her true self. Over the years, they drift apart, come together, fight, makeup, and break up—and ultimately realize how inextricably linked they are.
Having read and fallen in love with If I Was Your Girl a few years ago, I jumped at the chance to not only read and review Birthday, but also to be part of the Canadian blog tour hosted by Raincoast Books. I just knew that it would be a touching and nuanced look at the life of at least one transgender character, and I was not wrong. Meredith Russo knows how to create characters who have a real depth, who make it impossible to not empathize with the characters, even if they are very unlike who you are, and ultimately, create a story that trans people may feel has always been missing from their lives.
In Birthday, the authorial decision to time jump from birthday to birthday through the POVs of both Eric and Morgan made it a story unlike any I had ever seen before. There is so much we miss over the intervening 364 days, but at the same time, the passing year does not magically change either character in unexpected ways. Sometimes their circumstances make them either unravel or start to put the pieces of their lives back together, but the changes are gradual, never a complete reversal of how we left them on the previous birthday. I found that the unique format made it impossible for me to put the book down, and I suspect that I won’t be the only reader who feels this way.
Speaking of the feels, Russo paints a portrait of the fear of coming out as transgender to your best friend and family, but that’s not all she does. Morgan’s story is also about the internal struggles she has as a direct result of keeping who she is a secret, and trying to, at times, pretend to be anyone but who she really is. However, Eric’s story also brings the feels: Eric constantly hears homophobic slurs about Morgan from his family, which ups the stakes for both teens when Morgan comes out. It’s also the story of two friends who go through the ups and downs of life, including the pressure of being stuck in a small, limited town, and a swoony, transgender twist on the friends to lovers romance trope. Because in the case of Birthday, the feels are of both the heartbreaking and heartwarming kind.
Make no mistake—this is not an easy book to read. There are moments that are awful, that may be triggering to some transgender or gender non-conforming people, that may cause you to have tears in your eyes or full-out ugly crying. But there are also moments that will make you swoon, that will delight you, and that ultimately, will have you knowing that it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
Whether Meredith Russo is a new-to-you author or one whose writing you already love, pick up Birthday today. You do not want to miss this one!
Buy Birthday today and benefit from 8% off the regular price!