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Girl Mans Up

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  5,148 ratings  ·  883 reviews
All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she’s always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she’s trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she’s not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will s ...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by HarperCollins
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Evelyn At one point her brother says "you're twelve", but I think he's kidding, as a way of saying she's being childish. She's 16.…moreAt one point her brother says "you're twelve", but I think he's kidding, as a way of saying she's being childish. She's 16.(less)

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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  5,148 ratings  ·  883 reviews

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Rick Riordan
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Girl Mans Up
M-E Girard

YA contemporary fiction, own voices queer rep.

Pen (don’t call her Penelope) Oliveira lives in a small Ontario town with her Old-World Portuguese parents and her big brother Johnny. As she heads into her junior year at St. Peter’s Catholic School, she’s got a lot more on her mind than just grades.

Pen has always just wanted to be the kind of girl that she is – not a girly girl, not a guy, but a girl who likes girls, and who presents as what is sometimes called ‘butch,’ though
Miranda Reads
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook

Happy Pride Month y'all! Click the link to check out my favorite PRIDE books
The Written Review

Introducing Pen - the antidote to all those cookie-cutter YA heroines

Pen's not a girly-girl, she's not a tomboy, she wants to be one of the guys but she doesn't want to become a guy.

Nobody around her can get that.

Her parents focus only on how she's not a graceful, perfect little girl. Her brother, her best friend and only confidant, is being pushed out of the family for not fitting their parents ide
Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)
Apr 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, contemporary

This was so good. Such a raw, authentic story exploring gender identity through the life of a young Canadian (yay!) butch lesbian. Definitely would recommend!
I have to admit I really didn't understand how badly YA needed a butch lesbian book until I read this one. There are a lot of nuances to gender identity I really didn't get until I read this, and for that I like it a lot. I also love that this might be the only f/f YA I've read where the two girls meet and stay together in a solid, healthy romantic (and sexual) relationship for the entire book. Plus I don't think I've ever read a character of Portuguese descent before, so that was cool, as is th ...more
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: wlw, lgbt-queer-rep
2.5 Too many things were not okay for me in this book, iIt was really difficult to get through.

Not only are her so called "friends" awful, but her parents are even worse. Sooo negative, by the end I skipped the very many conversations with her parents. And I get that some people are sadly like that but it didn't feel like much was being done about it for most of the book.

What hurt me the most though was Pen herself and how she talked about women.
She doesn't want to be a girl because to her, they
Sarah Elizabeth
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

“The thing is, I’m not a boy, but I don’t want to be that girl either. I just want everyone to screw off and let me do my own thing for once.”

This was a YA contemporary story, about a girl who had issues with her gender and identity.

Pen was an interesting character, and her issues with her identity were quite confusing for both me and her. She knew she was a girl
Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
4.5 stars

Girl Mans Up, M-E Girard’s astonishingly honest book, might just be one of the best things that happened to YA fiction in a very, very long time. There have been books about gay, lesbian and trans teens, but I don’t think there are many, and certainly not this good, about genderqueer characters. Written with a light hand and breathtaking emotion, Girl Mans Up shows us how damaging traditional gender roles can be.

Pen doesn’t quite meet the expectations of her traditional family or the t
Nov 09, 2016 rated it really liked it

"People should just be allowed to look in the mirror and see all kinds of possibilities. Everyone should be able to feel nice when they look in the mirror. They should at least be able to see themselves reflected in there, even if they look all weird."


What I Liked

Pen. I absolutely loved Pen. I thought she was a well-written ad well-developed character. I loved her relationship with her friends and especially her relationship with her brother. She was an extremely relatable character for me and
shady boots
--2.5 stars--

I don't know, I just didn't like this book as much as I wanted to.

I related to Pen, despite us technically being opposite sides of the spectrum with her being a butch lesbian and me being a fem gay, but I totally got her struggles with regards to her gender expression and her disapproving family. That and we're both pretty nerdy gamers. I couldn't relate to her naivete or docility though, and I know it was intentional for her character arc, but I just found it really frustrating whe
Dec 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, 3, starred-2016, ya, morris
I am happy to see that a YA book like this exists and is getting considerable attention. It shows yet another facet of human sexuality and gender identity that I had though I had an understanding of, but clearly I didn't, until M-E Girard explained some things to me.

Even though I wasn't truly enchanted by the novel's pretty stock plot (bullying and difficulties of coming out to obtuse parents) and characters (they didn't have that X factor), I am glad I read it.
man, i was so looking forward to this, and then it was just okay. as a whole, i actually didn't like it that much, but there are some redeeming factors--the way Pen talks to Olivia about regretting things and feeling bad about things, for example. but sorry, i just don't like Pen as a character!!! i'm ascribing motivation that probably doesn't exist, but it FEELS like she was written to make a point about ~masc privilege and toxic masculinity~ in queer communities but then never even delivers on ...more
Pen Oliveira is a girl, no question about that. But she's always felt more comfortable hanging with boys, playing video games, wearing her brother's clothes, and dreaming about getting a girlfriend. Her brother and her friend Colby are cool with who she is. But her very traditional Portuguese-immigrant parents, especially her mom? Not so much. As she starts her Year 12 at a Catholic high school outside of Toronto, Pen finds herself facing a series of unexpected challenges ... and she's determine
Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries)
See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I got for review from YA Books Central.
*Pen and her family are Portuguese
*Olivia is half-Asian
*Pen is a lesbian, Blake is bi

Thanks to all sorts of psychological stuff I learned about in high school, bright colors on a book cover make me think a book will be happy and fun and sweet. Something something schemas, our brains are like Google AutoComplete, something something. Girl Mans Up has a bright red cover, but it’s really representativ
Louis Muñoz
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
"People should just be allowed to look in the mirror and see all kinds of possibilities. Everyone should be able to feel nice when they look in the mirror. They should at least be able to see themselves reflected in there, even if they look all weird." You're absolutely right, Pen; "you win everything," including our hearts. ...more
Gaby LezReviewBooks
Penelope ‘Pen’ Olivera is a teenager attending a Catholic high school and not following gender norms. It’s not easy to live in a small community in Ontario, Canada with her Catholic parents, who are first-generation Portuguese immigrants, while navigating rejection, experiencing first love, finding loyal friends and trying to discover her own identity.

This was a fantastic lesbian young adult audiobook, no wonder this novel got so many awards, it’s not only superbly written but it’s also a compel
Jenny Baker
3.5 stars

This book showed up on my news feed after one of my GR friends read it and rated it. It sounded interesting, so I impulsively checked my library and the audiobook was available on Cloud Library. It's a quick read/listen, but it's an important LGBT story, and definitely worth reading. I'm so glad I picked this one up.
May 06, 2017 rated it did not like it
Recently I realized my review may have come across as too harsh and misleadingly lesbo phobic. Let me be clear. I disliked this character with a gusto. She had several traits I disliked. She reminded me of somone I loathe with all my heart. But it does NOT mean I hate you all guys. Am talking ONLY about this MC. Am sure you are all lovely people. So I come in peace. ***
To clarify farther : I have been a lgbtqai ally my whole adult life. However I do dislike Pen. I have state
Kaje Harper
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book takes a place among my favorite YA LGBTQ books. There are books with more emotional impact or unique plot, but this one stands out with its realistic and relatable story of a butch lesbian girl figuring out how to live her life.

Pen doesn't fit the expectations of her traditional parents and extended relatives. She likes to wear her brother's clothes, crops her hair short; she hangs out with guys and video gaming is a big part of her spare time. And yet she hates when people ask if she
Jun 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm very torn on my rating for this. There are some things that don't sit well with me, that have also been mentioned in other reviews (bad rep of Portuguese family/language; Pen's mentality towards 'girly-girls'; etc.). But I still appreciated reading from a butch lesbian MC and reading about all the gender identity things.

Trigger warning for queerphobia (like a lot).
Dakota★Magic in Every Book
I think this is a really important book. I have my qualms and it doesn't handle everything deftly, but overall, it's a powerful book about an identity I hadn't seen before in YA books. Pen, the main character, is a young teen butch lesbian or gender-nonconforming, as it were. In every YA book I've read with sapphic women, or even just female characters, there's never been one with the struggle Pen deals with as people assume and try to direct how she expresses herself. Many assume that Pen wants ...more
Tiff at Mostly YA Lit
Review originally posted on Mostly YA Lit:

I was really excited to read Girl Mans Up by M.E. Girard because I’ve never read a novel with a gender-fluid character. I was fortunate enough to meet the author at an event at Harper Collins Canada a few weeks ago, and she’d given me the scoop: Pen is a girl who has no interest in being a boy. She happens to dress “masculine” and likes girls, but she’s not transgender. She’s okay in her body. It’s the people around her, including her parents and some of
Nay Keppler
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Out of all the LGBTQ+ fiction I've read, this is the one that comes closest to being representative of me and my experiences as a young adult (minus the family acceptance struggles), and I'm so sad it took me so long to getting around to reading it! Pen identifies fully as female, but she struggles with reconciling that identity and enjoying stereotypical "boy activities" and wanting to "look like a boy" (having short hair, baggy clothes that do not show off her frame, etc) and being the more ma ...more
(Four stars for its potential with an olderish teen audience, three stars for how much I personally enjoyed it.)

Despite the plethora of queer YA these days, there was something that I didn’t even quite realize that was mostly missing in contemporary LGBTQ+ YA, let alone Canadian LGBTQ+ YA: stories about butch/genderqueer lesbians and their gender journeys. Girl Mans Up, by M-E Girard, delivers exactly that. In that way, it’s a new and necessary story, especially for a big publisher (HarperCollin
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
This Canadian slice of teen life offers a portrayal I haven't seen much in YA: gender-fluidity. While there are a lot of good teen LGBTQ books and an increasing focus on making transgender and intersex characters more visible, Pen is harder to categorize. She's definitely a girl, but she doesn't at all feel "femme." She continually receives static from her traditional Portuguese family and from the usual window-lickers in her town about looking like a boy, and it's never been a secret that she's ...more
Good things about this book:
It has original, LGBTQ+ main character, great female friendship, it is set in Canada, and good relationship with brother and sister. These made this book tolerable. Plus it was refreshing to read about high schoolers without all the cliche stereotypes. And I was kinda curious to know how this was going to end.

The idea of the book was good, but it didn't really work out.
There were more than one problematic
feature, and issues that made me want to stop reading this book
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf, lgbt, owned-physical


DNF @ page 144

What's the matter with me?

Third book in a row I do not enjoy, second book I can't even find it in me to finish. This one wasn't even that bad, I guess i just found it boring. I mean, Pen was nice and all but... Meh. Her parents are assholes. Her best friend is an asshole. And I'm not in a good place in my life right now to read something filled with so much hate towards the LGBT+ community.

I might pick this one up again sometime in the
Nic Stone
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Long story short: EVERYBODY needs to read this book. It is one of the most poignant (and riveting!) examinations of the concept and importance of self-identification (aka how you label, and/or choose NOT to label yourself) and knowing who YOU are despite everyone else's opinions. I seriously feel more settled in my own skin now that I've read it. Probably going to read it again. ...more
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
2/22/17 So I've read this book twice in less than 6 months because I FREAKIN LOVE IT! (and also because it was chosen as the book for my book club). but honestly, i think this may be my favorite book of all time. I'm considering doing my first book-talk on my channel with this book, just so i can gush about it. Maybe even cry. I love Pen, Johnny, Blake, and Olivia so much. I want to be best friends with them. I can't WAIT to see what else M-E Girard is going to write. I'll buy whatever it is!

Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, queer, ya, music
Really liked it, and felt it! Surprised how rare masculine girls are in YA...

I applaud how the book deals with masculinity/ies. I loved how Pen is both not having any of that toxicity - and still falls prey to it. Her relationship with her brother is such a great one; and her GF the best. (I really want to punch a couple of characters, but welp.)

I just want this on my shelf, okay?
- ̗̀  jess  ̖́-
I feel like Girl Mans Up was a very interesting exploration of gender and sexuality that I did like reading about. However, I also felt really frustrated with the treatment of conventional girls and women throughout the novel and did think that it was misogynistic at times, something I don't think should be excused because Pen is a girl.

Pen was massively cool, though. Her character development throughout the novel was really nice, and I'm glad she learned a lot more about herself in the process
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M-E GIRARD is a Canadian writer of contemporary fiction---mostly young adult fiction, sometimes new adult fiction, usually queer fiction, and always about girls. Her debut novel GIRL MANS UP will be published in September 2016 by HarperTeen/HarperCollins and HarperCollins Canada. M-E was a fellow of the 2013 and 2015 Lambda Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices. Her writing has appeared in Plen ...more

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