Girl Mans Up
Author: M-E Girard
Genre/Themes: YA, LGBT, Contemporary
Release Date: September 6th 2016
Page Count: 384
All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she’s always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she’s trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she’s not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty. But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth–that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she’ll have to man up.
“People should just be allowed to look in the mirror and see all kinds of possibilities. Everyone should be able to feel nice when they look in the mirror. They should at least be able to see themselves reflected in there, even if they look all weird.”
What I Liked
Pen. I absolutely loved Pen. I thought she was a well-written and well-developed character. I loved her relationship with her friends and especially her relationship with her brother. She was an extremely relatable character for me and I’ll be expanding on that in the next paragraph.
How relatable Pen was. I was able to relate to Pen quite a lot. I’m not Portuguese, and my parents were born here in Canada, but I do come from an Italian family. My grandparents immigrated to Canada from Italy. My grandparents would take care of my sister and I after school so we grew up in a pretty traditional European setting. Our family is pretty much just as large as Pen’s and although I’m 24 years old, I still get seated at the kids table during holiday get-togethers. No, I don’t wear men’s clothing all the time, but I would much rather wear a formal outfit that consists of pants rather than a skirt or dress. I’m definitely not on the same level as Pen, but I’ve never really felt comfortable as a stereotypical girly-girl type either. I’ve always enjoyed things that are darker in nature or maybe things that aren’t the “norm”. I grew up collecting Hot Wheels, watching Hockey and falling in love with the Fast & The Furious movies. Pen really spoke to me as a character and I was able to understand where she was coming from and the way that she was feeling.
The writing style. Although I’m no longer in high school, and I haven’t been for about 7 years now, the writing style is perfect for that demographic. It was very casual and I can definitely see my teenage self speaking in the same way that Pen and her friends talk to one another. I think that M-E Girard perfectly captured the voice of the teenage demographic.
What I Didn’t Like
The repetitive-ness. There were a few moments that felt a little repetitive. The multiple arguments between Pen and her parents felt a little too similar and there wasn’t really any benefit to them. The first one or two were okay because they set the tone in the relationship between Pen and her parents, but after a while it started to feel a little repetitive for me.
Colby. He was just vile. He pissed me off so many times and I just could not stand him.
Overall, I really enjoyed Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard. As you may have noticed, it was extremely relatable. I loved Pen and I loved her character development. I thought the writing style was fantastic. Girl Mans Up is a wonderful debut novel by M-E Girard and I’m super excited to see what she’ll be coming out with next!
About The Author
Thanks for reading!