BIRTHDAY by Meredith Russo


Age Range: 14 - 18
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Two best friends fall in love despite the changes in their lives and societal pressures that threaten to tear them apart.

Inseparable childhood friends, transgender girl Morgan and cisgender boy Eric spend every birthday together. A September snowstorm brought their families together in the hospital on their shared day of birth. As they navigate puberty and high school, Morgan struggles to understand and love herself. Cancer took her mother away, and she fears rejection from Eric and her football coach dad if she tells them she’s not a boy. On top of family tension and worries about his friendship with Morgan, Eric hides his own concerns about his sexuality and his future. In a narrative that follows Morgan and Eric from year to year on their birthday, Stonewall Award Winner Russo (If I Was Your Girl, 2016) captures the intense longing of two teens who feel trapped in their small, football-obsessed Tennessee town. Morgan’s self-acceptance is an intimate, honest journey with an ultimately hopeful resolution that acknowledges the diverse struggles and experiences of transgender people. While the story ends on a happy note, grief, economic struggle, abuse, discrimination, suicide, and divorce play significant roles in the narrative and the characters’ development. The slow-burn romance between Eric and Morgan is affirming and worth the wait. Apart from Morgan’s Latina friend, Jasmine, the cast is white.

An emotional, winning touchdown. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 21st, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-250-12983-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2019


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