*The book discussed in this post was gifted from the publisher*
As we have an LGBTQ+ Book Club, we’re always looking for more LGBTQ+ reads, especially from own voices authors. A couple of years back (long ago when we first started the book club) we read If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo, and i absolutely loved it. I had to get my hands on Birthday at some point to see how it compared, and to read something else from this wonderful own voices author.
I had very little expectation going in to this book. I knew the premise was two people who shared a birthday and it was split in to parts, each being a different year of their birthday. However i didn’t know the relationship of the characters or any of the plot points. I was completely surprised by this book. It follows Morgan and Eric, their parents meet at the hospital when both children were born, and they have grown up being best friends. As they’ve gotten older, life has taken them both in very different ways, but they both remain solid friends throughout the whole thing, which honestly is refreshing in a YA book.
The main plot point is that Morgan wants to transition from being born male to female. She is struggling to come to terms with being transgender as she grows up, and especially struggles with telling Eric and her father. To me, this felt incredibly realistic and the writing of these struggles was incredible. All the issues that Morgan felt towards her gender and her relationships tore at my heart, and i have to admit that this book made me cry a good few times. It was wonderfully emotive and really struck a chord with how much someone can struggle as a teenager with gender.
That being said, another huge part of this book is football. Morgan’s father is a football coach and with Eric on the team, she’s always being compared and offered the chance to train again like she did when she was younger. It was quite nice to see the strain on the friendship between Eric and Morgan due to football. Not only did it make Morgan quite uncomfortable, but with Eric making new friends from the team, it highlighted some of the issues that teenagers can have with friendship. Again this felt incredibly realistic watching two people grow apart and not really knowing how to deal with it.
There are quite a lot of triggers in Birthday such as mental illness, death, suicide etc that could be harmful to some people, so bare that in mind if you do decide to read Birthday. Luckily, i managed to enjoy the book without being affected by any of the triggering content, and i cannot say how much i really did love this story.
I want to keep talking about the characters and their relationship and the great parent representation and the wonderful setting of their home and how well Morgan was written as a character, but i don’t think i could do it any justice honestly. Birthday is one of the most beautiful books i’ve read since becoming a blogger and i cannot wait for it to hit shelves and get more and more people to read about Morgan and Eric.
Meredith Russo has grown in to a truly incredible author that needs so much more recognition than she gets. I already want to re-read this book and i think these characters are ones that i will take with me through my twenties.
Our book for our LGBTQ+ Book Club will be Birthday for the month of June. We will be meeting in the usual place at the usual time on the 27th of June 2019 to chat everything Birthday! Come join us if you can, there might even be some exciting things provided by Usborne.