Written by Meredith Russo
Published by Flatiron books, May 21, 2019
My star rating – 3.75 stars
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. Find it on Goodreads
If there was ever a book that was difficult for me to review….. it’s this one! I have so many thoughts about this book. Most are good and positive! Some are painful. And some are confused. Either way, this was a really great and well written story about two people coming to realize who they are, what they want, and how they’re going to get it.
Two boys are born on the same day and in the same hospital. This sparks a friendship between Morgan and Eric’s parents, and the lives of these two “birthday boys” begins. I LOVED the format of this book! It’s told in 5 parts – all of which are on the days of their birthday, beginning at age 13. Morgan is dealing with the loss of his mother from cancer, and also realizes that he’s a girl. Eric is the youngest in the family to parents who aren’t happy together and a father who is VERY set in his ways. Each year we get a snapshot of their lives on their birthday. And each year we see them struggle to find out who they are. Morgan wants more than anything to tell Eric and his father that he’s a girl, but in a small football town in Tennessee, this isn’t something that he feels comfortable just coming out and saying. So, year after year, he attempts to come to terms with this realization and if it’s something he wants to take action on.
Originally I though “How in the world am I supposed to relate to this story?” Well…. I’m not! This was a wonderful, beautiful, painful, eye opening experience. These two people are trying to come to terms with what they want from themselves amidst all the pressures in their lives. Parents telling them what they should want or be doing. A southern town that is set in their ways and traditions. And neither Morgan or Eric want what they “should” want. They’re different from the “norm” and it’s a beautiful thing! I have a daughter that’s 13 years old and I see a lot of her struggles in them. This is such a tough age! It feels impossible at times. Life is a lot of trial and error as you’re trying things out and see what fits. To be honest though; i’m 37 and still haven’t figured that out! But it was a really beautiful thing to watch these two find their way together!
Along with the themes of coming of age, transgender, LGBTQ, and a few other things – there was also grief. Morgan lost his mom to cancer at a young age and she seemed to have been a pinnacle in his life. I’m going to be truthful here – I didn’t read these parts. It was a little too close to home. Throughout the book, Morgan watched videos, read letters, and opened presents that she had left for him to open as he grew. I was diagnosed with cancer in 2016. Literally the only thought I had as I was sitting in the doctors office as she told me I had cancer was that I needed to start writing letters to my 2 kids so they could read them on their birthday’s, when they graduated, got their drivers licenses, got married, had kids….. I didn’t want them to feel like I wasn’t there on those big days. I’m now cancer free, and I never needed to write those letters, but this was something I wasn’t ready for. I’m sure these parts of the story were fantastic, but I couldn’t handle it.
I really enjoyed the writing style, the pace, and the format of the yearly birthday. I’ve heard so much from this author and it was nice to finally see what all the hype was about! The one thing that I didn’t like (understand) so much about this book I can’t even talk about. It would spoil the ending completely! I wish that I could talk about it because it would explain my rating, but I don’t want to spoil anything. But all in all, this was a great read, well formatted, full of emotion, and 100% enlightening and eye opening! This is the first book that I’ve read where a character was transgender (and I referred to Morgan as Him/He throughout this review because she was still identifying as male throughout the book) and I really loved learning from that perspective. I’ve known a few transgender women over the last few years and I would say that this was very close to the experience they explained to me as well.
Thank you so much to Flatiron Books and Raincoast Books Canada for the chance to read this in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and are uninfluenced.
Until next time, happy reading!