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Birthday

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Boyhood meets The Sun Is Also a Star in this unconventional love story by award-winning author Meredith Russo! Two kids, Morgan and Eric, are bonded for life after being born on the same day at the same time. We meet them once a year on their shared birthday as they grow and change: as Eric figures out who he is and how he fits into the world, and as Morgan makes the diffic Boyhood meets The Sun Is Also a Star in this unconventional love story by award-winning author Meredith Russo! Two kids, Morgan and Eric, are bonded for life after being born on the same day at the same time. We meet them once a year on their shared birthday as they grow and change: as Eric figures out who he is and how he fits into the world, and as Morgan makes the difficult choice to live as her true self. Over the years, they will drift apart, come together, fight, make up, and break up—and ultimately, realize how inextricably they are a part of each other.


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Boyhood meets The Sun Is Also a Star in this unconventional love story by award-winning author Meredith Russo! Two kids, Morgan and Eric, are bonded for life after being born on the same day at the same time. We meet them once a year on their shared birthday as they grow and change: as Eric figures out who he is and how he fits into the world, and as Morgan makes the diffic Boyhood meets The Sun Is Also a Star in this unconventional love story by award-winning author Meredith Russo! Two kids, Morgan and Eric, are bonded for life after being born on the same day at the same time. We meet them once a year on their shared birthday as they grow and change: as Eric figures out who he is and how he fits into the world, and as Morgan makes the difficult choice to live as her true self. Over the years, they will drift apart, come together, fight, make up, and break up—and ultimately, realize how inextricably they are a part of each other.

30 review for Birthday

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lala BooksandLala

    Equally soul crushing and heart warming

  2. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    Meredith Russo, this book absolutely blew me away. Eric and Morgan have known each other since birth. That's not hyperbole—they were born on the same day in the same hospital, and there was a snowstorm, so both families were snowed in. Their families were close, at least until Morgan's mother died of cancer. But the boys have been best friends their entire lives. As their 13th birthday approaches, Morgan knows things are changing. What Morgan knows more than anything is that he isn't whom he's sup Meredith Russo, this book absolutely blew me away. Eric and Morgan have known each other since birth. That's not hyperbole—they were born on the same day in the same hospital, and there was a snowstorm, so both families were snowed in. Their families were close, at least until Morgan's mother died of cancer. But the boys have been best friends their entire lives. As their 13th birthday approaches, Morgan knows things are changing. What Morgan knows more than anything is that he isn't whom he's supposed to be. He's a football coach's son in a small, rural Tennessee town, and he's trapped in the wrong body. More than that: he's a girl trapped in a boy's body, and he doesn't know what to do. When you realize a fundamental truth about yourself, you want to share it with those you care about. But how can he share this truth? He's already bullied in school, so that doesn't worry him, at least not as much as the reactions of those he loves. Can he withstand losing his father? Or worse, can he survive losing Eric? Eric knows that something is wrong with Morgan. Something is different. There's more of a distance between them. He knows the insults that his father and his brothers say about Morgan when he is not around, but he is not giving up on their lifelong friendship. Morgan is more important to him than perhaps anything else. Told in glimpses spanning six birthdays, Birthday is a powerfully poignant, eye-opening story about self-acceptance, family, friendship, love, and grief, and all of the obstacles that stand in the way of trying to come to terms with who we are and the life we deserve to live. I read this entire book in a few hours, and it will undoubtedly be one that sticks with me for long afterward. Meredith Russo's prose is so beautiful and evocative, and the emotions it generated made my heart hurt. I'll admit there were times that I found myself reading while trying to cover my eyes at the same time because I was so worried for these characters and what might happen to them, wondered how close to real life Russo might take the plot. This is one of those books that I'd love to see a sequel for because I already miss the characters and want to know where their 19th, 20th, and subsequent birthdays will find them. I've commented many times before that I am so happy that YA books today deal with so many important issues. Birthday never feels manipulative or sensationalized, it feels utterly authentic and it touched my heart. I hope this book finds its way into the hands of those who need it most, and those who can learn from the journeys taken by the characters. Flatiron Books provided me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available! The book will be published May 21, 2019. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html. You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)

    I am crying so hard in this club 😭😭😭😭 TW: suicide, death of a parent, homophobia, transphobia

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lola

    Three years ago, I read Meredith Russo’s debut – If I Was Your Girl – and I enjoyed it, but I could not have predicted it becoming a bestseller and award-winning novel, because although I found it sweet and meaningful, it was not a page-turner for me. Birthday is very different from her debut, so different that I feel a switch was made in the author’s mind or she wanted to tell a heart-breaking story instead of a mainly heart-blossoming one. There is a lot of love in this coming-of-age story—it i Three years ago, I read Meredith Russo’s debut – If I Was Your Girl – and I enjoyed it, but I could not have predicted it becoming a bestseller and award-winning novel, because although I found it sweet and meaningful, it was not a page-turner for me. Birthday is very different from her debut, so different that I feel a switch was made in the author’s mind or she wanted to tell a heart-breaking story instead of a mainly heart-blossoming one. There is a lot of love in this coming-of-age story—it is not hopeless—but there is also much destruction. It’s told from two alternative POVs: Morgan’s and Eric’s, who are best friends and ready to tackle everything in life together. But the older they get, and the more Morgan struggles with her identity, the more distance opens up between them. Until tragedy strikes and they need one another more than ever. It is divided into six different parts—six different birthdays, starting at thirteen and ending at eighteen. I found that particularly original, having never encountered such a story structure before, and it was interesting to observe how the two characters’ lives and interactions with one another and the people around them progressed from birthday to birthday. Morgan’s character ARC is particularly emotionally-taxing, because she doesn’t know how to tell Eric and her dad that she is transgender, which is eating at her constantly. I was very moved by this novel. In my opinion, Meredith Russo has outdone herself, and this time I actually expect (or strongly hope) that this story becomes a bestseller and wins many awards. It deserves it. Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gabby

    Huge thanks to Flat Iron Books for the ARC! Holy crap, I loved this book. I loved it so much more than I thought it would. I finished it one one day and it’s been a while since I’ve done that. I just absolutely adored Morgan and Eric. The premise of this book is super vague so I’m going to try to keep this review as vague as possible - but wow. My fucking heart hurts and this book is so powerful and so important. I love the way this story is told, we get to follow these two characters every year Huge thanks to Flat Iron Books for the ARC! Holy crap, I loved this book. I loved it so much more than I thought it would. I finished it one one day and it’s been a while since I’ve done that. I just absolutely adored Morgan and Eric. The premise of this book is super vague so I’m going to try to keep this review as vague as possible - but wow. My fucking heart hurts and this book is so powerful and so important. I love the way this story is told, we get to follow these two characters every year on their birthday and only on their birthday for six years. It is such a great storytelling format and I think it works perfectly for this story! I felt so much for these characters and I cried at least five times during this story, especially at the end. 😭 I am such a sucker for the dead parent writing their child letters and this book had that and it made me feel ALL THE FEELS. I read If I Was Your Girl by this author a few years ago and I really enjoyed that book as well, but this one has become a new all time favorite. I’ll definitely be reading everything this author publishes in the future. This is one of the best YA books I’ve read in a while. It’s been a long time since a YA book has impacted me like this. I think the description of saying this book is Boyhood meets The Sun Is Also a Star is completely accurate, and I loved both of those stories as well.

  6. 4 out of 5

    chan ☆

    favorite book of the year, hands down.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine from How Useful It Is

    I started reading Birthday on 5/10/2019 and finished it on 5/11/2019. This book is a fantastic read! As soon as I read Morgan’s view I felt heartbroken for him because of his mom. Gosh, I cried so much reading this book! I also really like Eric too. Eric’s such a good person and a caring friend despite having those jerks for brothers and dad. Their struggles felt so real and the secrets they live with makes me ache for them. Both of the main characters are well liked. I love Morgan’s birthday le I started reading Birthday on 5/10/2019 and finished it on 5/11/2019. This book is a fantastic read! As soon as I read Morgan’s view I felt heartbroken for him because of his mom. Gosh, I cried so much reading this book! I also really like Eric too. Eric’s such a good person and a caring friend despite having those jerks for brothers and dad. Their struggles felt so real and the secrets they live with makes me ache for them. Both of the main characters are well liked. I love Morgan’s birthday letters from his mom. That is such a good idea to remember her by. This book is told in the first person point of view following Morgan and Eric. They have been best friends since birth and they have always celebrated their birthdays together. Both boys went through life doing what their dads wanted even though they felt unhappy with it. Eric wanted to play the guitar while Morgan struggled with who he is on the inside. This book is organized by their yearly birthdays, starting from 13 to 18. At each birthday, readers learned of their struggles, from feelings to friendships to family. Birthday is very well written and a heart-wrenching read! I’m actually surprised by Morgan’s dad toward the end and would have really love to have read their conversation when Morgan come clean to him about his secret. The self destruction was hard to read through as well as the bullying, but people do have their own opinions and they don’t like it when someone is different. I like Morgan’s worries about acceptance from the world when he decides to make a change so that he can feel comfortable with himself from inside to outside. This book is a couldn’t put down and I highly recommend everyone to read it. Pro: fast paced, page turner, friendship, family, couldn’t put down, identity struggles Con: none I rate it 5 stars! ***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Flatiron Books for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest. xoxo, Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details

  8. 5 out of 5

    Camryn

    I feel like crying. I couldn’t put this down because I fell in love with both Eric and Morgan. This broke my heart and twisted it and made me tear up. But it was also so triumphant. This is going to save lives.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Wow. This was some book. I loved the characters, i loved the concept and i loved the execution.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Hollis

    BIRTHDAY blew me away. "I don't think we have much choice in who we turn out to be, as much as we might want to." I honestly don't even know what to say. But my god. I was choking back the sobs by page thirty and that more or less was what I did throughout the rest of the book, too. And just thinking about the journey makes me want to cry. What do you do when you can't swim up, you can't swim down, and staying put will suffocate you? As always I went in with only a very very vague idea as to what t BIRTHDAY blew me away. "I don't think we have much choice in who we turn out to be, as much as we might want to." I honestly don't even know what to say. But my god. I was choking back the sobs by page thirty and that more or less was what I did throughout the rest of the book, too. And just thinking about the journey makes me want to cry. What do you do when you can't swim up, you can't swim down, and staying put will suffocate you? As always I went in with only a very very vague idea as to what to expect and as a result I was totally unprepared for.. everything. I loved the subject matter, I hurt from the agony of some of Morgan and Eric's experiences, their struggles, but their enduring connection, the evolution of it, was just so heartbreakingly beautiful. Equally lovely was the way in which the story was told. I've read a book or two like this before but never has it suited the story as well as it did for this one. I should have so much to say about this because I loved it so much but I'm honestly just at a loss and a puddle of feelings, so. Here's a great book with a terrible review to recommend it. 4.75 "I don't know if anyone will love me the way that I really am" stars ** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

  11. 5 out of 5

    Madalyn (Novel Ink)

    I’m just sitting here crying??? This was so wonderful, and I think Morgan’s story (and Eric’s) will resonate with so many people. The format— Birthday is told through snapshots of the two main characters’ birthdays from age 13-18– was executed to perfection. The Southern small-town setting was all-too realistic. Birthday is a great reminder that coming out stories are still important and that there are so many coming out narratives that still need to be told. Content warnings: death of a parent I’m just sitting here crying??? This was so wonderful, and I think Morgan’s story (and Eric’s) will resonate with so many people. The format— Birthday is told through snapshots of the two main characters’ birthdays from age 13-18– was executed to perfection. The Southern small-town setting was all-too realistic. Birthday is a great reminder that coming out stories are still important and that there are so many coming out narratives that still need to be told. Content warnings: death of a parent (not on page); suicidal ideation; suicide attempt; alcoholism; homophobia (challenged); transphobia (challenged); parental abuse

  12. 5 out of 5

    destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

    I might (read: most likely will) pick this up again someday, but not any time soon, because ffs, if I have to read the f-slur one more time I'm going to cry. It's so immensely triggering for me and I don't know why, I just know that I can handle a million other triggers but I can't handle this one right now.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    5/5stars this was perfect. i cried. please read this.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lea (drumsofautumn)

    [Edit: Haven't stopped thinking about this book in two months so I'm changing my rating from 4 to 5 stars!] ♦ Video Review ♦ Birthday is one of the most heartbreaking and simultaneously hopeful novels I have read in a long time. Meredith Russo had a perfect balance between creating a realistic novel with all the hard hitting, devastating truths of life while giving us an ending that is so full of hope and light that it still leaves you with a wonderful, warm feeling. “Maybe that's what life is [Edit: Haven't stopped thinking about this book in two months so I'm changing my rating from 4 to 5 stars!] ♦ Video Review ♦ Birthday is one of the most heartbreaking and simultaneously hopeful novels I have read in a long time. Meredith Russo had a perfect balance between creating a realistic novel with all the hard hitting, devastating truths of life while giving us an ending that is so full of hope and light that it still leaves you with a wonderful, warm feeling. “Maybe that's what life is about: suriving what you can't control and clinging to the good things the winds whip up.” While this novel hugely deals with Morgan being transgender, at its core this is definitely a love story. Russo wrote this story in a way where it's very clear that Eric and Morgan fall in love with each other early on. Eric doesn't fall for Morgan all of a sudden because she tells him she's a girl or because she's taking hormones, the love has been there all along. It's just that as soon as Morgan comes out, it is like the puzzle pieces finally all fit together. The relationship between the two is so beautiful and definitely one of my favourites of this year so far. It was wonderful to see Eric always support Morgan, even before he understand or knows what's going on with her. It was also absolutely beautiful to see Eric use she/her pronouns immediately after Morgan comes out to him! “All I know is that I've never felt like this before, that under the things about her body she might not like, she is a girl, vibrating the same hue as any other. And she's more than any girl, any friend, any girlfriend. She's Morgan. My Morgan.” This book deals a lot with gender identity and presentation in a way that is so easy to comprehend, even for people who are not in any way involved in the queer community and don't know much about being trans. Sometimes I definitely had some issues with the way this book talked about gender, with things that seem typically female or typically male but at the same time I also always understood where the characters where coming from with their thoughts and feelings. There are tons of trigger and content warnings for this book and it is no way a book I would call fluffy. Again, the ending is wonderfully hopeful and leaves you with such a warm and fuzzy feeling but please be very cautious going into this book. Trigger and content warnings include transphobia, bullying including physical abuse, homophobia and the use of the f-slur several times, death of a parent (not on page but still dealt with heavily), cancer, parental abuse, depression, self-harm specifically in the form of hitting things and (not on page) overextensive physical workout, thinking being trans is a disease, alcohol abuse, suicide attempt and suicidal ideation. There's also a slight instant that reads like aro/acephobia because Morgan has issues figuring out her sexuality before she really understands she is trans and she thinks she's broken because she doesn't really wanna be with anyone. It makes a lot of sense in the context of the story and is DEFINITELY not meant to be aro- or acephobic but I wanted to warn people regardless! “Some girls are tall, some girls have broad shoulders, some girls have flat chests and I guess I never thought about it before, but if you're a girl, then some girls have whatever you have.” While Morgan's depression is obviously very tied to her gender identity, this is a novel that describes how depression feels so very well. I think that many people will relate to Morgan's mental illness and for me it was one of the best descriptions of depression I have seen in any YA novel. I also thought this book showed a really interesting issue that many queer people will have experienced or felt before and I've never really seen expressed in a book. There's this feeling of being scared to come out because even though you know the person will accept and love you, you've seen them act shitty towards other queer people or seen them laugh or make a joke about queer people and it just forever makes you scared. Even when you've come out to them and they have accepted you, this moment stands out to you forever and you will always question how accepting that person truly is. But we don't only see Morgan struggle. While her storyline is obviously a big theme in this book, Eric's homelife is much more complicated than it seems at first. While he comes from a wealthy family and has a seemingly great life, we realize quickly that it's not all fine and dandy. Both Eric's brother and dad are just plain assholes and behave terribly towards him and Morgan. I loved how the storyline diverged eventually though, where his dad just stays terrible and we realize that there are some people who don't want to and will never change but we also have the case of his brother, who comes around later in life. This perfectly portrays the balance between devastating and hopeful that I love about this novel. “It was kind of hard to be around them, at first. To watch them ignore the ways their bodies and voices betrayed them. But every month I see a little bit more of the beauty in these people like me. It feels like I'm on the cusp of something, a chrysalis just on the verge of cracking.” The one thing that was a little bit strange for me is that I don't really understand when this novel is set. Let's say if Morgan and Eric turn 18 this year, this novel starts in 2014, on their thirteenth birthday. But there are things referenced that honestly weren't a thing anymore in 2014, especially for teens, like CDs and DVD rental services that send you DVDs in the mail. Also Morgan's mother recorded video messages for Morgan's birthday and they're still taped on a VHS camcorder? This was just so strange to me and easily could've been avoided by just clearly saying which year it was. Without knowing, I was honestly just constantly thrown off. Also Morgan becomes a vlogger at the end of the book and while one of your videos CAN reach one million views even if you only have 5k subscribers, it is highly unlikely and certainly doesn't happen EVERY Sunday with such a small subscriber count. This easily could've been researched and changed. Overall I absolutely loved this book with all its ups and downs and flaws. It it so emotional and a beautiful love story with some truly devastating hits. If you can handle the content, I think this is a must-read! ♦ Booktube Channel ♦ Twitter ♦ Instagram ♦ I received an ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Neville Longbottom

    Wow. I wasn’t prepared for this book. I’d read Meredith Russo’s first book If I Was Your Girl and thought it was pretty good, but I wasn’t blown away by it or anything. But damn, Birthday exceeded all expectations I had for it. Eric and Morgan have been best friends since they were born on the same day. The book takes place on their birthday each year from 13 to 18 as they grow, change, and struggle with things in their lives. Over the years Morgan struggles with her gender identity, she knows t Wow. I wasn’t prepared for this book. I’d read Meredith Russo’s first book If I Was Your Girl and thought it was pretty good, but I wasn’t blown away by it or anything. But damn, Birthday exceeded all expectations I had for it. Eric and Morgan have been best friends since they were born on the same day. The book takes place on their birthday each year from 13 to 18 as they grow, change, and struggle with things in their lives. Over the years Morgan struggles with her gender identity, she knows that she doesn’t feel like the boy the rest of the world sees her as. But she doesn’t know how to tell people or if she even wants to tell anyone. Eric is also working out how he fits into the world and trying to figure out how to support Morgan, even though he doesn’t really know what’s happening to make his best friend change so much. This story is beautiful and heart breaking. Morgan is struggling so much and it’s honestly hard to read at times. Her thoughts and actions get to such a dark place that you just want to hug her and tell her to open up to someone and let them help. Because this is a dual POV book, as the reader we know that Eric will be accepting whenever Morgan finally opens up, but she’s so full of fear and hating herself that she doesn’t stop to think that maybe she’ll have support. While there is a lot of heavy content in this book (homophobia, transphobia, violence, suicidal thoughts) I think it’s ultimately a hopeful story. While a lot of this book is very dark there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I’d highly recommend it for anyone, especially people looking to read an own voices story about a young trans girl. I listened to the book on audio and there was a bonus interview at the end between the narrator and the author which was a nice surprise. Meredith Russo talks a lot about the inspiration for the book, trans issues, and recommendations for other trans media. And the narrator, Dana Aliya Levinson, is also a trans woman and speaks about how the book is similar to things she experienced in her own life.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    This is an amazing book. More important is that this story taught me something.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alexa

    Buddy read with Jane & Madalyn! I must confess I was a little concerned to begin with that the format of Birthday (told in yearly snapshots on the date of the main character’s birthday) wouldn’t allow me enough time to truly feel for these characters and what they were going through. But dang, was I proven wrong. I still felt incredibly emotionally connected to Morgan and Eric’s stories, and this book is so difficult to read at times but will certainly be important and relatable for so many. C Buddy read with Jane & Madalyn! I must confess I was a little concerned to begin with that the format of Birthday (told in yearly snapshots on the date of the main character’s birthday) wouldn’t allow me enough time to truly feel for these characters and what they were going through. But dang, was I proven wrong. I still felt incredibly emotionally connected to Morgan and Eric’s stories, and this book is so difficult to read at times but will certainly be important and relatable for so many. Content warnings: homophobia, transphobia, parental abuse, parental death, alcoholism, suicide ideation and attempt

  18. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    I loved this. I want to give Morgan and Eric the biggest hug.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    tw: transphobia, homophobia, attempted suicide This is a lovely, important #ownvoices story. 3 1/2 stars A love story centering around Eric and Morgan throughout their birthdays on multiple years, I thought the exploration of sexuality and gender identity was on point. I loved Morgan's journey to coming out as trans, learning to love herself and see herself as deserving of love. The story unfortunately did fall a bit flat for me in terms of the characterization and story structure, and the writing tw: transphobia, homophobia, attempted suicide This is a lovely, important #ownvoices story. 3 1/2 stars A love story centering around Eric and Morgan throughout their birthdays on multiple years, I thought the exploration of sexuality and gender identity was on point. I loved Morgan's journey to coming out as trans, learning to love herself and see herself as deserving of love. The story unfortunately did fall a bit flat for me in terms of the characterization and story structure, and the writing only worked for me in parts. Not bad by any means, but I definitely found If I Was Your Girl to be a stronger novel. Not a new favorite for me, but I would recommend it overall!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Melanie (TBR and Beyond)

    This description tells me all of nothing, but it's going to mine all the same!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    4.25 Stars This was just a fantastic read! First of all I really enjoyed the idea of the format that the author decided to use. Seeing the characters only once a year on their shared birthday was something unusual for sure, but I think it was very well done and everything that happened throughout the year was quickly explained. Let's talk about the great representation in this novel. Of course not every trans person will see themselves in Morgan's story since every situation is different, but thi 4.25 Stars This was just a fantastic read! First of all I really enjoyed the idea of the format that the author decided to use. Seeing the characters only once a year on their shared birthday was something unusual for sure, but I think it was very well done and everything that happened throughout the year was quickly explained. Let's talk about the great representation in this novel. Of course not every trans person will see themselves in Morgan's story since every situation is different, but this does not make it any less important and special. I personally think it was a great rep. (view spoiler)[ I was so sad to see Morgan go through all of this alone and I'm really happy that in the end she opened up with Eric and her dad and that they understood her. (hide spoiler)] Eric and Morgan's relationship intrigued me a lot throughout the whole book and I could honestly read another book about them and be a very happy person.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Heather~ Nature.books.and.coffee

    This book totally caught me by surprise. I hadn't heard of it until recently. Sounded really interesting! A book about two teens, Morgan and Eric, born on the same day, and families become friends at the hospital. The boys become best friends through the years. The story takes place over the span of 6 years, 6 birthdays! It is told in alternating points of view between the two. This was a wonderful coming of age story. The trials Morgan goes through threatens the friendship he has with Eric, but This book totally caught me by surprise. I hadn't heard of it until recently. Sounded really interesting! A book about two teens, Morgan and Eric, born on the same day, and families become friends at the hospital. The boys become best friends through the years. The story takes place over the span of 6 years, 6 birthdays! It is told in alternating points of view between the two. This was a wonderful coming of age story. The trials Morgan goes through threatens the friendship he has with Eric, but Eric is ALWAYS there, to try and help Morgan. Morgan doesn't know how to tell Eric, or her father, that she is transgender. This is making her emotionally distraught. I was very impressed with Meredith's writing and story telling. I really loved these characters! I was holding back the tears with this book. This is a very important, must read book!!  

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bee

    This is a difficult book for me to review. Not because I have mixed feelings, but because there is so much I loved that I only hope I can do it justice. Birthday is the story of two best friends, born on the same day, in the same hospital. On the night they were born a freak snowstorm struck the area and stranded their families together. From then their fates were sealed: friends for life. Their story is told in snippets, starting on their 13th birthday and continuing until they turn 18. By 13, M This is a difficult book for me to review. Not because I have mixed feelings, but because there is so much I loved that I only hope I can do it justice. Birthday is the story of two best friends, born on the same day, in the same hospital. On the night they were born a freak snowstorm struck the area and stranded their families together. From then their fates were sealed: friends for life. Their story is told in snippets, starting on their 13th birthday and continuing until they turn 18. By 13, Morgan has realized that something is wrong. Between the loss of her Mom, a struggling with a distant relationship with her father, and being the subject of her rural town's torment, Morgan can't imagine losing her best friend. She'll play it safe, even if it means hiding here true self from the person she cares about most. When my copy of Birthday arrived I picked it up with the intent of skimming the first few pages to get an idea of Meredith Russo's style. I read a page, and then a couple more, and then all of a sudden I was 100 pages in. Without exaggeration, this is easily the best YA book I have ever read, and certainly one of my favorites of this year. This own voices story is equal parts powerful, uplifting, and heartbreaking. I have so much appreciation for the way Morgan, a trans girl, is represented in this book and I cannot wait to pick up Meredith Russo's books in the future.  Going off initial impressions I don't think I would've picked this for myself, but I couldn't be more thrilled that I did. Even if you're on the fence, give Birthday a try. Let it surprise you in all the best ways. Content warnings: (view spoiler)[parental death, homophobia, transphobia, alcohol abuse, suicidal actions, violence (hide spoiler)] I received my copy of Birthday from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    AJ

    This was such a fantastic book. I'm honestly trying to figure out how Meredith Russo took this unusual format that seems like it shouldn't work but made it work so flawlessly. TEACH ME YOUR SECRETS RUSSO!!! For real though, this book follows Eric and Morgan from their thirteenth birthday all the way to their eighteenth birthday. We get a glimpse into their lives only once every year, but this honestly works amazingly. It's established pretty early on that their shared birthday is a very important This was such a fantastic book. I'm honestly trying to figure out how Meredith Russo took this unusual format that seems like it shouldn't work but made it work so flawlessly. TEACH ME YOUR SECRETS RUSSO!!! For real though, this book follows Eric and Morgan from their thirteenth birthday all the way to their eighteenth birthday. We get a glimpse into their lives only once every year, but this honestly works amazingly. It's established pretty early on that their shared birthday is a very important aspect of Eric and Morgan's relationship, and that gives so much weight to each of the chapters, and each event that unfolds. Morgan's chapters were...they were brilliant but painful to read. The way her narrative takes us from her thinking she's ready to tell Eric about her being a girl, to feeling trapped in her body and her life, to finding inklings of hope...the whole thing is done fantastically. I also loved the way that Morgan's misgivings lined up in many ways with Eric's, or even Morgan's father, and Eric's family's. The narrative wasn't Morgan is trans and this leads to her having a difficult life, but that everybody does have to deal with some tough stuff and it's difficult to be yourself. Though, of course, Morgan coming to terms with herself is difficult because of other people. And everything that she goes through is honestly so well-written that I felt like her pain was palpable. This is definitely a must-read, though only if you're in the right mindset. It's not an easy read by any means, but also totally worth it if you're able for it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    4.5 stars. I really enjoyed this book. It was so touching and eye opening and I loved the unique way it was written - alternating between the two main characters POVs during their shared Birthdays every year from age 13 to 18. Eric and Morgan are best friends and share everything, except for a secret that Morgan’s been hiding. She is actually a girl. This story is so heartbreaking, especially while reading about Morgan’s despair and self hatred. But the story also has a lot of hope and love. Thi 4.5 stars. I really enjoyed this book. It was so touching and eye opening and I loved the unique way it was written - alternating between the two main characters POVs during their shared Birthdays every year from age 13 to 18. Eric and Morgan are best friends and share everything, except for a secret that Morgan’s been hiding. She is actually a girl. This story is so heartbreaking, especially while reading about Morgan’s despair and self hatred. But the story also has a lot of hope and love. This is a coming of age story and a love story. It is hopeful and honest and I hope that many more people will read it to raise awareness and acceptance.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    I only have a few words to say on this book. This is not an own voices review, so I don’t feel like I should say anything about the aspects of the book that I don’t understand. What I want to talk about is the friend. Eric. Eric is the exact definition of a bad friend. This entire book would have been so different had he communicated. Had he reached out. When your friend is clearly struggling, you reach out. It’s what friends do. That’s honestly the only thing that irked me. Otherwise, I thought I only have a few words to say on this book. This is not an own voices review, so I don’t feel like I should say anything about the aspects of the book that I don’t understand. What I want to talk about is the friend. Eric. Eric is the exact definition of a bad friend. This entire book would have been so different had he communicated. Had he reached out. When your friend is clearly struggling, you reach out. It’s what friends do. That’s honestly the only thing that irked me. Otherwise, I thought this was an incredibly powerful and important novel and I implore everyone to seek own voices reviews to see what they have to say about it. —- This book showed up in the mail for me yesterday, June 5th, which happened to also be my birthday. It was clearly destiny for me to order this.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ness (Vynexa)

    TW: Body Dysmorphia, Misgendering, Gay Slurs, Alcohol Abuse, Suicide Attempt Morgan and Eric have been best friends since the day they were born. A snow storm caused their parents to get stuck in the hospital together this creating an unbroken bond. But when Morgan’s mom dies when they’re eleven, things start to change: from bonds to self discovery. I listened to the audiobook of ‘Birthday’ and I am so glad that I did. the book follows the birthdays of Morgan and Eric from age thirteen to eighteen. TW: Body Dysmorphia, Misgendering, Gay Slurs, Alcohol Abuse, Suicide Attempt Morgan and Eric have been best friends since the day they were born. A snow storm caused their parents to get stuck in the hospital together this creating an unbroken bond. But when Morgan’s mom dies when they’re eleven, things start to change: from bonds to self discovery. I listened to the audiobook of ‘Birthday’ and I am so glad that I did. the book follows the birthdays of Morgan and Eric from age thirteen to eighteen. on their thirteenth birthday, Morgan wanted to tell Eric that he is actually a girl. yet couldn’t because she knew that no one would understand, not even her best friend. Eric has been confused about his feelings for Morgan. he’s never had to question his sexuality, but he sees his best friend as a girl and questions his feelings towards Morgan. Meredith Russo has a such a way of making my heart hurt and feel love at the same time is like no other. I really enjoyed ‘If I Was Your Girl’, but this book tore me apart, especially in Morgan’s perspective when she decide to force herself to be the boy everyone in her life has wanted her to be. I love that this novel has therapy incorporated. not just singular, but family therapy as well. I’m always shouting that we need more therapy in books, especially in YA. it’s so important to show young people that seeking therapy when needed is completely okay and there should be no shame. the audiobook narrator is a trans person and I love the audiobook even more for that. after the story, there is an author Q&A with the narrator which I suggest everyone listens to. I love love love love this novel and want everyone who is in a stable mental state to read it. please keep the trigger warnings in mind before jumping in to it. ⭐️5 STARS⭐️

  28. 5 out of 5

    Exillior

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Content warning tags for this book: homophobia, transphobia, violence, abusive parent, bereavement, depression, self-harm, alcoholism, suicide attempt. I took two stars off because there were no content warnings. Nowhere. Not on the book, not on the reviews I saw (goodreads and twitter), not in the marketing that I saw, all of which focused on how this is an unconventional but powerful love story. The thing is, content warnings do matter. Especially since this is an #ownvoices story with a transg Content warning tags for this book: homophobia, transphobia, violence, abusive parent, bereavement, depression, self-harm, alcoholism, suicide attempt. I took two stars off because there were no content warnings. Nowhere. Not on the book, not on the reviews I saw (goodreads and twitter), not in the marketing that I saw, all of which focused on how this is an unconventional but powerful love story. The thing is, content warnings do matter. Especially since this is an #ownvoices story with a transgender mc, and especially since it's branded as a love story, many trans people looking for an authentic love story will come to it, and deserve to be aware of the many triggering topics explored in depth here. I'm not asking for everything to be rose-tinted. Especially since life isn't rose-tinted for so many LGBT people. But content warning tags help us prepare, help us decide when and where we will read a story. I wouldn't have read it while in the midst of PMS/PMDD, which already makes me feel suicidal. I thought I could do with a happy, affirming love story that will help take my mind off the intolerance, bigotry, hatred and darkness I am surrounded by, but it was 185 pages of exactly the latter. The last 20 pages couldn't change that. I feel that especially since this is an #ownvoices story, we should have received more consideration than we actually did.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gigi H

    Omg. This book totally crushed me and took me by surprise actually. The description was pretty vague, so I wasn't sure if it would be a good fit or not. But I ended up loving it more than I thought I would! I'm gonna tell him I'm supposed to be a girl, that I can't stand being a boy anymore, that I feel like I'm dying a little bit more everyday. Morgan's rollercoaster of emotions was so raw and real! I really enjoyed the alternating POV'S between Eric & Morgan. I thought it was genius that Omg. This book totally crushed me and took me by surprise actually. The description was pretty vague, so I wasn't sure if it would be a good fit or not. But I ended up loving it more than I thought I would! I'm gonna tell him I'm supposed to be a girl, that I can't stand being a boy anymore, that I feel like I'm dying a little bit more everyday. Morgan's rollercoaster of emotions was so raw and real! I really enjoyed the alternating POV'S between Eric & Morgan. I thought it was genius that Meredith Russo chose to write the story on the birthday of these two characters between the ages of 13-18. A very well written book that I highly recommend. 👏 Thank you Raincoast Books & Flatiron Books for my ARC

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amber Loyacano

    As with If I Was Your Girl, Meredith Russo has created a beautiful story of transgender representation. I appreciate how acceptance is always a focus of Russo’s stories and while her characters struggle there is always hope and there is always love.

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