just girls
Book Review

Just Girls: YA LGBTQ Book Review

Just Girls is a young adult LGBTQ novel that stands out to me as innovative and aware. Simultaneously, it touches on the topics that affect many teenagers as they enter the college scene for the first time. In other words, it isn’t just for the LGBTQQIA community. However, it doesn’t shy away from its role as part of the advocacy for that community.

The Story of Just Girls

Just Girls is the story about Ella Ramsey, a MTF transgender woman who is starting as a new student in college. She hasn’t come out to people there even though she has gone through the coming out process in her hometown. Therefore, she faces the challenge of coming out yet again, in a new environment.

Ella becomes friends with Jess. Jess is a cisgender lesbian who has overheard slurs and bullying comments about the transgender person on campus. She pretends that she is transgender as a way to raise awareness of trans and LGBTQ issues. She doesn’t know at first that her friend Ella is the person she’s defending in this way.

Just Girls is about their individual and shared experiences in these early days at a college campus.

What I Love about Just Girls

Author Rachel Gold does a great job of raising awareness of myriad LGBTQQIA issues in this book while still retaining the story itself as the primary focus. Reading it, I felt concern about the characters, their inner lives, and their relationships. I wasn’t focused on anything as a “trans issue”. Nevertheless, I noticed that there was a lot of information and advocacy happening in those pages. I love that Gold was able to balance her writing in this way. In other words, the book doesn’t shy away from trans issues. However, it also goes beyond that thanks to accessible characters.

A Memory while Reading Just Girls

Reading this book transported me to another time. When I was about the age of the characters in the novel, I would spend time browsing through the queer bookstore in my Tucson hometown. I had worked at a big box bookstore, but found all of my unique discoveries in the indie bookstore. I remember feeling edgy in there and also feeling at home, feeling curious and creative and inspired.

What I also remember is that I found the non-fiction LGBTQ books informative and interesting. However, I couldn’t find many fiction books that inspired the same feeling. The fiction was interesting because it was new, because at that time there weren’t a lot of LGBTQ books. (Heck, I don’t think the T was even on there at the time and I’m sure the Q wasn’t.) But the writing wasn’t great and the characters weren’t easily relatable in most of those novels. We’re in a different time now and Gold stands out as an author in this genre.

About the Author

Rachel says in one of her bios: “I’ve written stories since I was 10 (and would like to thank my early readers for their support!). After college, I went looking for a job where I could be paid to write and landed a spot as a reporter at a GLBT newspaper in the Twin Cities. I worked there for seven years and made many friends in the transgender community.”

This post is reprinted from the original archives of this blog.

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