Girard, M-E. Girl Mans Up. 384p. ebook available. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062404176.
Gr 9 Up –The expression man up refers to many things. It suggests that “real men” take responsibility for their actions. Real men act bravely in the face of adversity. For Pen (short for Penelope), 16, it is a little more complicated than that. She has a difficult time knowing how to man up when she cannot even classify her own gender identity. For her, the LGBTQ lexicon carries too much cultural baggage and too many expectations. Pen does not want to define herself too closely, especially when everything in her world seems to be crashing down around her. Her best friend Colby has recently become a terrible bully, her parents are more and more unsupportive, and her older brother has been kicked out of the house. On a positive note, her crush, Blake, has taken an interest in her. Pen tries to navigate all of this, while still figuring out who that person is staring back at her from the mirror. This is a fresh title in the growing sea of LGBTQ YA literature. Pen and her peers are neither quirky nor whimsical. They cuss, drink, smoke pot, hook up, and get into fights. There is no sugarcoating in this very real portrayal of an aspect of teen life that many experience. VERDICT Recommended for fans of YA urban fiction as well as those who prefer grittier LGBTQ lit.
This review was published in the School Library Journal July 2016 issue.