I’ve been enjoying a phase of reading lots of YA fiction recently, and that trend has continued with Birthday by Meredith Russo.
I found it in our local Little Free Library book exchange and am so glad that I picked it up.
Birthday is a coming-of-age YA romance novel, based around two best mates, Eric and Morgan. They were born at the same hospital on the same day, and their families have been friends ever since.
We re-visit Eric and Morgan on their birthday each year; the books starts on their thirteenth and ends on their eighteenth birthday. Each chapter alternates between Eric’s and Morgan’s narrative, so we hear the story from their first-person perspectives.
We soon learn that Morgan is transgender, but she hasn’t come out to anyone yet. We see her struggle with coming to terms with her identity; trying to find a way to tell Eric and her dad. Things are even more emotionally complicated because Morgan’s mother has recently died.
Eric and Morgan live in a small town in Tennessee, where the main social activities are football games and high school parties. Morgan’s dad coaches the high school football team; a team on which both Eric and Morgan play.
As the story progresses, we witness Eric and Morgan go through their teenage years with Morgan carrying the burden of her secret trans identity and going through grief, and with Eric grappling with surviving his parents’ break-up.
This is emotional stuff, and the book comes with trigger warnings for self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
At the heart of Birthday, though, there is a romance which pulls it all together.
Russo is herself transgender and also from Tennessee; you may have heard of her bestselling previous YA book If I Was Your Girl.
Birthday packs and emotional punch which will keep you hooked until the end.
Other YA novels I’ve read recently: