Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: Girl Mans Up

Publish October 3, 2016

In M-E Girard’s debut teen novel, Girl Mans Up, Pen doesn’t identify with the traditional attitudes around being a girl. When she wears her brother Johnny’s stylin’ shirts, hangs with the guys, and cuts off the long hair that’s been weighing her down, Pen finally feels like her insides match her outsides. Harbouring a secret crush on the beautiful Blake, her friend Colby’s latest potential score, Pen is happily surprised when her wingwoman duties reveal Blake is attracted to her instead. But while Pen’s in a better place than she’s ever been, her growing self-confidence is continually criticized by her parents and attacked by one of her closest friends. And when her brother and fiercest supporter moves out, Pen is left to face it all on her own. While Pen isn’t an activist or crusader, Girard uses Pen’s story to inform readers that challenging gender roles can be about genuine self-expression. Girard acknowledges Pen’s many difficulties, while also capturing the intense joy Pen feels when those around her see and appreciate her as she is. The powerful sibling bond between Johnny and Pen is a compelling aspect of Girl Mans Up as Pen recognizes in her older brother a worthy role model she can emulate regardless of gender. Pen’s constant striving to be authentic and dependable positively affects her friendships and her intimate relationships, and Johnny’s unconditional love provides her with a solid foundation to do so. A thought-provoking read, Girl Mans Up leaps off the page and into readers’ hearts with Pen’s vital and grounded story, while also encouraging discussion about gender roles and expression.

Girl Mans Up

M-E Girard
Harper Collins Canada
ISBN 13: 978-1-443-447-041