Julie Anne Peters’s books hold a very special place in my heart. When I was a young teenager, I read them over and over again, hungry for a book about girls who liked other girls, like me. Every time I was in a bookstore, I checked the Young Adult section to see if she had any new books out. Even if I knew she didn’t, I liked to walk by them just to see them on the shelf, the queer books there with all the other books.
Sadly, I haven’t read Peters’s last few books. I suppose I’ve outgrown them a bit. But as I was walking through the library the other day, my eyes landed on grl2grl, and I decided to pick it up.
grl2grl is a book of short stories—just glimpses, really—about girls figuring out their sexual and gender identities. There’s one about a girl who just barely works up the courage to attend her high school’s GSA (gay-straight alliance) meeting; one about a trans boi who is brutally assaulted outside his place of work; one about a girl who falls in love with another girl over the internet. All of the stories are thought-provoking and touching, and I really loved the characters, despite the short amount of time I had to get to know them. It always shocks me a little bit to read about people who went through a lot of the same things I did. It takes me back to my early days of coming out, an exciting and terrifying time in my life.
I wanted each story to be longer. A lot of them leave off just as they are getting good, or right when something really exciting happens. I would’ve been willing to read each of these stories as a full-length novel. Sometimes I wanted them to be fleshed out more.
My only real complaint about the book is that sometimes Peters tries too hard to use slang, or to write in what she thinks is a “teen” voice. It doesn’t always ring true, and sometimes it’s distracting. I don’t remember her doing this in her earlier novels, and I don’t think she needs to do it now. Her characters’ thoughts and feelings are so true to life that the slang is unnecessary, in my opinion.
I think I’ll try to pick up the rest of Peters’s books in the next few months and catch up on what I’ve missed.