What does it mean to be a young adult in today's world? What does it mean to be a feminist? To be a girl?
Rachel Gold's fantastic Just Girls asks all these questions and more, and the answers are bound to surprise you while also resonating deeply with anyone who has ever felt insecurity, fear, or love.
I went into this reading experience unsure of what to expect. I mean, just look at the synopsis and how heavily this book focuses on trans issues. Well, my largest exposure to trans issues, until now, came via Isis on Season 11 of America's Next Top Model, and that provided a shallow representation at best.
Still, I was intrigued enough by the concept and the characters to dig right in. And, boy, did I grind my heels in, staying up late to read this in just a few short days! Not only is Just Girls an incredibly important book, but it's also a fun one. I related to Ella's insecurity and worry that others wouldn't accept her–even though I am not trans, I easily found myself relating to and rooting for her. And I LOVED Tucker, the out lesbian who also outs herself as trans, even though she's actually not. What a great character set!
This novel forced me to confront biases I didn't even know I possessed by raising questions in both engaging, emotional ways and in didactic ways. How does one define a woman–must she be born with the anatomy or simply the soul? Are feminists always the good guys? What does gender mean anyway, and is it possible to live life without ever picking one over the other? How are lesbian relationships different from straight ones?
I couldn't stop reading, and even though I finished over a month ago, I can't stop thinking about Just Girls. My closest reading experience came via Nabokov's Lolita–that book also forced me to confront biases and root for characters I may not naturally gravitate toward. That, too, was a book I can't stop thinking about and can't stop recommending to whomever will listen.
As the mother of a beautiful one-year old daughter, I was so happy to be able to expand my definition of “girlhood”, and I can't wait to share Just Girls with her once she is about a decade older. Tolerance is so important, and there's no better way to teach it than by putting yourself in the “other”s shoes and walking around for a few-hundred pages.
I highly recommend this book, especially to those who don't think they need–or want–to read it.
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.