every. single. thing. matters.
"she's a girl. like me."
A long time ago, I wrote about the connections we forge with fictional landscapes and how sacred and personal they tend to be. The simple fact of my work, of any author’s, is this: once read, a book belongs to its reader. What happens next is between them and them alone. I rarely know the story I wrote for someone else, but every so often, I’m lucky enough to get a glimpse—
she’s a girl. like me.
And sometimes these glimpses—
They remind me.
Why these stories.
And why now.
Thank you so much to Goodreads reviewer Deziyah for giving me permission to share here, a condensed version of her incredible review of I’m the Girl.
“. . . i wish i could say all of this is unrealistic [but] it happened. it HAPPENS, every fucking day.
i read many reviews stating how dumb georgia was [and] i think what people don’t understand is, coming from the fact i’m georgia’s age right now, our life, what we see, what we hear, it rules us. even as a lesbian, you can see how much the male gaze haunts georgia. the length she will go just so she’ll feel beautiful, wanted, desired, love, not knowing that without those men, she can still be all of the above. it hurts reading this, as i see a lot of myself in her character. you can be aware and still played a fool, and it’s always the people the closest to you, the adults were supposed to trust, who promise us safety . . .
you’ll think being in georgia’s pov will get you to understand why she reacts the way she does. you’ll understand without victim blaming [but] many people will fail to see how the world around us, shapes us. the internet, what we devour on tv, our relationships-or non existent relationships with our parents. every. single. thing. matters. georgia isn’t a dumb character. she’s not an idiot who’s willing to do whatever it is she needs to feel worth it.
she’s a girl. like me. like so many others. young, naive, hopeful, too kind, trusting. throughout this all, after everything, she’s still just a girl . . .
[nora] is another girl. a girl who sees. a girl who will never stop wanting justice for the others around her [ . . . ] it’s easier as a nora to fight, but sometimes us georgia’s can’t, and we need a nora to help us along.
[I’m the Girl] left me with hope. with everything going on in the world right now [maybe] that’s dumb, look at how we’re going backwards, how can one hope in times like this? [there’s] hope in being heard, believed, loved. having a hand to hold, to tell you they’ll fight even if you don’t.
even if no one sees this, i want to write from my pov, from another young scared girl. maybe some adults think these types of books shouldn’t be read by people my age who can’t handle it, but many things happens to us as kids, teens, the ages where we can’t handle it. we shouldn’t have to be able to handle these types of things, but a lot do. they live it, it happens. you cant hide anyone from the pains & horrors of this world, but you can warn them, & help them. [I’m the Girl is] triggering, it’s nasty, it’s brutal, but it’s real.
but one thing i do want to point out though is that, yes it’s a man’s world, this books shows you the painful truth of that. but unlike what many are forced to believe, who give up on believing in anything else, it doesn’t mean we have to live in it. we don’t have to abide by anyones rules but our owns.
What struck me most about this review was less what Deziyah says about the book—though I’m very humbled by that—and more about what she reinforces about this world, and what she wants it to know.
even if no one sees this, i want to write from my pov, from another young scared girl.
I’m the Girl is a demanding book.
It’s deeply enmeshed in the perspective of a sixteen-year-old girl who does not always understand what’s happening to her, and does not always internalize the “right” or response to it. How anyone reacts to that is theirs to untangle—and just might reveal something in the process—but I can and will tell you it was important to me to honor the real experiences Georgia's story is based on, and experiences like it, by committing to a narrative that refused opportunities to use Georgia’s trauma and abuse as a framework for the text to “teach a lesson” for the sole purpose of assuaging its audience.
Here’s something it invites you to consider: if a victim of sexual assault has been groomed out of believing what is happening to them is abuse, it does not mean they endorse or consent to the violence happening to them. If I’d had Georgia assure readers she knows this as a necessary component of legitimizing her abuse, and legitimizing the book’s depictions of it, it would have real world repercussions: it would contribute to a culture that shifts accountability from abuser to abused by holding victims to a standard of response they might not always be capable of, to expectations we have no real right to place on them. I refuse to wield that kind of shame in a narrative like this to comfort others; Georgia doesn't have to be told what happened to her for anyone else’s sake, but to be heard and seen and understood for her own. And for the real girls like her.
Those are the stakes I'm writing to.
They are higher than they’ve ever been.
It’s a difficult world to move through with any amount of optimism, to believe that it can be made better than it is, that people can be better than they are. Stories like Georgia’s aren’t meant to make their reality easier to hold. Their purpose is to force you to bear witness and to relieve those burdens from the people they hurt the most. That can begin by simply—simply—rejecting the world I’m the Girl presents, and it continues in acts of solidarity and support that might seem so small, so inconsequential compared to the systems they’re up against, but make all the difference in the end. If we lose sight of that, we lose so much more.
As Deziyah so powerfully reminds us, “every. single. thing. matters.”
I’m the Girl releases in one month.
Pocket Books, one of the participating indies offering the pink edition of Jenifer Prince’s art print, uploaded this amazing reel about I’m the Girl. It feels incredible to not only have earned their support for the book’s campaign—but for the book to have also earned their recommendations. What a team. 💗 Also? If you preorder I’m the Girl from them, you get 15% off.
The Sadie ebook is only $2.99 for what remains of August. Get it while you can.
You can read the entirety of I’m the Girl’s prologue now: