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Girl Mans Up

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  3,606 ratings  ·  686 reviews
“Pen is an inspiration to anyone who’s struggled to be understood, and a vital addition to the growing world of genderqueer protagonists.” –The New York Times Book Review

Lambda Literary Award Winner * Entertainment Weekly Best YA Book of 2016 * Children’s Book Council Books Best Book of 2016 * Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Coming-of-Age Novel of 2016 and Best Teen Book of 2
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 16th 2018 by HarperCollins (first published September 6th 2016)
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Clarke Daniels People are citing lesbian sex as the reason it is not appropriate for 6th-grade students but there are multiple scenes of sexual assault/intended…morePeople are citing lesbian sex as the reason it is not appropriate for 6th-grade students but there are multiple scenes of sexual assault/intended sexual assault where a lot of manipulation and gaslighting happens. In my opinion, the swearing and teen pregnancy are not reasons to prevent 6th graders from reading this; in all likelihood, they already know all the curses in this book and understand that teen pregnancy happens. So I guess it depends on whether you consider sexual assault an off-limits topic for 6th graders. (less)
Bailee Kraemer She's sixteen. It states that near the end of the book. Maybe in the last hundred pages.
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Community Reviews

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4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,606 ratings  ·  686 reviews

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Miranda Reads
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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 ideals.

High School Sucks.
Figure 1: Pen - fierce, angry, with a killer haircut.

Pen is wonderfull
Rick Riordan
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)

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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt-queer-rep, wlw
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
(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, and sh
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
Maria (Big City Bookworm)

"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 | #WatchPOSE
--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: 3, 2016, starred-2016, ya
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.
Diversity Rating: 3 – Closer to Reality
4 (Pen and her family are Portuguese; Olivia is half-Asian; other minor POC characters)
QUILTBAG: 2 (Pen is lesbian, Blake is bi)
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 5 (perhaps not in the usual sense, but the nature of Pen’s story and its handling is excellent)

Thanks to all sorts of psychological stuff I learned about in high school, bright colors on
May 06, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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).
Kaje Harper
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
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-physical, dnf, lgbt


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
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
(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
Nay Keppler
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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.
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
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stumbled upon this book while searching for genderqueer representation in YA for my dissertation. It was a pleasure to read. There is a void in fiction for characters who do not adhere to the gender binary, and it was fantastic to find a character like Pen who treads the boundary between boy and girl. Additionally, it's great to see that that's not all the book talks about. It's also about culture, since Pen is from a Portuguese background, and what it's like to deal with parents who do not un ...more
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great contemporary YA book. The main character, Pen, is a girl who knows who she is and what she wants. It's great to read YA that involves gender presentation and sexuality but isn't a coming out story. Pen's conflicts are not internal at all - the tension comes from the reactions of others to Pen, especially those of her parents and her friend Colby.

Complicating the title "Girl Mans Up" is inherent to this story - what different people expect masculinity to mean is exactly what Pen
McKinlay Dennis
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 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
* * *
3 / 5

~review to come~

An interesting, gritty, and sometimes awkward read about being a tomboy, about culture, about liking girls and wanting to be "manly" without being a man
Vitor Martins
De todos os livros YA com protagonistas lésbicas que eu já li, nunca tinha encontrado um que falasse sobre uma lésbica butch, e eu fiquei muito feliz de ver esse tipo de representação aqui. A Pen é uma personagem muito segura de si mas, ao mesmo tempo, ela tem muitos questionamentos que são comuns na adolescência. O livro não entra tão a fundo na discussão de papéis de gênero, sexualidade nem nada disso mas a autora conseguiu levantar essas questões de um jeito sutil e diferente.

Minhas partes f
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
4.5 stars

I’ve said before how much I love books that surprise me. Sure, it’s always a delight to read a good book, and it’s fabulous when I pick up a book that’s one hundred percent up my alley that turns out to live up to its premise, but there’s something extra special when a book I’m not sure about and taking a chance out turns out to be completely amazing. I don’t have a great reason for why I was skeptical that Girl Mans Up might not be quite right for me as a reader, other than the title r
Melanie (TBR and Beyond)
Really enjoyed this book. There were a couple characters that I wanted to punch in the face often but it was a great book overall.

Review to come.
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YA LGBT Books: * Sept 2017 BotM - Girl Mans Up (possible spoilers) 15 72 Sep 23, 2017 01:54PM  
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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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“People should just be allowed to look in the mirror and see all kinds of possibilities.” 9 likes
“It's okay to feel bad about how things went down, but it's not okay to drown in guilt and regret every day for having made decisions other people don't agree with. At some point, we all have to man up and decide to do what we have to do, despite the people around us who try to get in the way.” 6 likes
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