Book Review by Aarene Storms: Girl Mans Up

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

Pen doesn't want to be a boy. And she isn't. So why does everybody have these weird ideas about her?

Pen likes to dress in baggy jeans and her brother Jimmy's t-shirts. She doesn't want to be her mom's "princesa." She doesn't want to get married to some guy and go to nursing school. She wants to hang out with her buddies -- guys like Colby, who plays first-person shooter video games almost as well as Pen, and who totally has her back.

Or ... does he?

Readers will see that Colby lacks the loyalty and respect Pen craves long before Pen catches on. But when Colby tries to sexually assault her, even Pen can see what a ratbag her "friend" really is. At that point, Pen has to make some changes. And none of the choices she might make will be easy.

This book features some fabulous allies, including an older brother and (to Pen's surprise) a couple of girls.

Three cheers for a strong gender-fluid protagonist, a teen romance that does not fly apart at the seams by the end of the book, and a sibling who is friend, brother, and parent to Pen. Recommended for readers 12 and up.

The events may not have happened; still, the story is true.  --R. Silvern

Aarene Storms, youth services librarian
Richmond Beach and Lake Forest Park Libraries, KCLS



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