Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard tells the story of how Pen, a gender non-conforming teen at a private Catholic high school, learns how to stand up for her truth. On the way she struggles with unhealthy friendships, parental disapproval of her and the older brother she adores, and vile fellow students. Not to mention finding someone who seems to understand, support, and find Pen super irresistible.
Her biggest allies in the story are her older brother, Johnny, and Blake, a kickass, rocking bisexual character who Pen finally works up the nerve to talk to while scooping up girls for her odious friend Colby.
Girl Mans Up continues the discussion on gender presentation. Pen strives to figure out how to stay true to herself in the face of difficult friendships and a combative home life. The novel comes together in the end as a beginning and not an ending. Vague as that statement is, it will make sense when you finish the book!
As soon as I heard “narrated by Emma Galvin” I pressed pause on the audio sample, too excited to listen to the rest. Emma Galvin has a voice perfect for voicing teens. By random chance, I’ve landed on two audiobooks released this year that are narrated by Galvin. Her voice gives her protagonist a rough and emotional, and living between certainty and uncertainty. The rest of the cast is rich with characterization and it shows in the way certain characters inspire deep loathing.
Accents are a challenge for every narrator. Galvin does a serviceable job as Pen’s parents (immigrants from Portugal) and extended family. I felt like Pen’s mother sounded young, but I come from a line of youthful voices, so I can’t entirely discount her performance based on that. Pen struggles to coexist between the cultures of her Portuguese family and Canadian culture. There is a gap in communication between Pen and her parents, for a number of reasons, including her limited Portuguese language skills and gender identity.
You can learn more about the authors, narrator, and where to purchase a copy of this audiobook via the links below.
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