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Birthday is Meredith Russo's second novel, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. It focuses on the self-discovery of two young boys, Eric and Morgan, who were born in the same place at the same time and have been friends ever since. The story follows them both through their birthdays from their thirteenth, taking us on the journey of their friendship and them learning who they truly are.
This book broke my heart and put it back together again. It truly makes you feel all the emotions. It felt difficult to read at times due to its focus on tough issues, seen in the treatment of both boys by their peers and families, but it is important that these experiences are reflected as it is sadly what many people encounter every day.
One of my favourite parts of the book is towards the end (slight spoiler here, but you know this moment is coming from the offset) when Morgan finally reveals her true identity to Eric and the personal pronouns change from 'him' to 'her'. It is a subtle change, but in a modern day society it is so important, and paints Eric in a very positive light.
When I started the book, I was afraid it would feel disjointed as it is told in yearly intervals. However, there was no need to worry, as it still felt coherent and easy to connect with (or be annoyed by) the individual characters.
Birthday is very powerful and definitely worth a read due to its commentary on society, and how it can be resistant to change. It is also such a great story of loving who you truly are and how it is okay to be whoever you want to be. Russo does a great job of writing LGBT+ literature and it is amazing how accessible it is to a YA audience.