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Girl Mans Up

by M-E Girard

Published by HarperTeen, 2016
373 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-240417-6

Age 14 and older

Pen has been best friends with Colby since they were kids. Now in grade 11, Colby has Pen strike up a conversation with whatever girl he likes before he makes his move. Pen, who is out to Colby but not her parents, hasn’t really thought much about her role in his love life. But she’s interested in Blake, Colby’s most recent target, herself, and it turns out Blake is interested in Pen, too. Then Olivia, Colby’s previous girlfriend, reluctantly reveals she is pregnant, and that Colby has made clear the situation is hers alone to deal with. As Pen navigates new relationships—romance with Blake, friendship with Olivia, whom she wants to support—she sees her oldest friend in new light. She’d like to remain friends with Colby, but he’s accusing her of being disloyal, and, more hurtful, of wanting to be a guy. She’d normally turn to her older brother for solace. She and Johnny are close, navigating a divide with their Portuguese immigrant-to-Canada parents. Johnny faces constant criticism for his choices, while Pen takes grief from her mother in particular for dressing like a boy. But after a recent blowup Johnny moved out, and Pen feels abandoned. Pen is gloriously imperfect and increasingly fierce in a novel that is nuanced and bold, gritty and passionate as she finds her voice. (Age 14 and older)  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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