Welcome to the Q&A article of our Nerds and Beyond Book Club! This month, we read Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard. The book follows high school student Pen as she comes to terms with her sexuality and who she is as a person, friend, and some of her other relationships. The book has won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Children’s/Young Adult (YA) literature.
“That in order to be who she truly wants to be, she’ll have to man up.”
We had our Book Club answer some questions after reading this novel! Here’s what they had to say:
What was your initial reaction after reading this book?
Julia (@jahooliaa): I was pretty annoyed when I first started reading it. I was getting frustrated with Pen and why she would associate herself with someone like Colby. As I kept reading, I started to understand her viewpoint more and was able to focus on her story as whole, rather than focus on one detail like Colby. I was, however, intrigued by the character dynamics between the two. I also liked the way different concepts were brought up and handled.
Nicole (@nicmanz15): My initial reaction after reading this book was basically just “WOW!” because I just really enjoyed it. I especially liked how there were so many ups and downs that Pen, and the other characters go through because it made it seem so much more real.
Sarah (@WyldeFandom): I found it difficult to get past the characteristics of Colby, but once I was able to focus on Pen, it was difficult to put down. Pen’s journey and her story is not one you see a lot in books and media, so it was refreshing to see a character that readers can relate.
What is your favourite Pen moment?
Julia (@jahooliaa): I loved when she finally called Colby out. She put up with a lot from him, and I was glad she was able to stand up for herself.
Nicole (@nicmanz15): I have a lot of favorite Pen moments but one in particular is actually the last sentence of the novel when she says that the kind of girl she wants to be is just like Johnny, the person who has not only been a brother to her but a parent and friend.
Sarah (@WyldeFandom): I have two, the first being when she decides to be there and help Olivia. The second being the ending when Pen mentions she realizes the kind of girl she wants to be.
What scene stood out the most to you
Julia (@jahooliaa): The scene when Pen agreed to go with Olivia to her appointment stands out the most. Knowing Olivia’s history with Colby made everything more complicated, but I admired how Pen chose to help Olivia throughout the whole process regardless.
Nicole (@nicmanz15): The scene that stood out the most to me was the argument between Pen, Johnny, and their parents right before she left to stay with Johnny. Pen stood up for herself, against her parents even though it was a difficult thing to do.
Sarah (@WyldeFandom): During any of the times when Pen stood up for herself, surrounding her parent’s disapproval, friends being upset about her priorities, and classmates making fun of her. In those moments, the author gave us a glimpse as Pen got closer to discovering the girl she wants to be.
The words respect/respeito and loyalty were mentioned quite a bit in the book, do you think any of the characters portrayed those words? (Please briefly explain your answer)
Julia (@jahooliaa): I think mostly Blake best demonstrated both terms. She respected the privacy Olivia and Pen wanted regarding Olivia’s secret, even if it frustrated her. She never pressured them or tried to manipulate them. If Pen made her upset, she gave herself room to breathe, but never intentionally hurt Pen in the process. She stuck with her friends without making them feel like they were lucky to know her.
Nicole (@nicmanz15): I think Pen and Johnny both portrayed these words throughout the novel. Johnny was always loyal to Pen and respected her for who she was. Pen also portrayed these as well to Johnny, but also to Olivia and other characters that showed her respect. I feel like the phrase ‘give respect to get respect’ can be seen throughout the entire novel, especially with Pen and her family. Her parents always said that she had no ‘respeito,’ but in fact they didn’t have any towards her either.
Sarah (@WyldeFandom): This one is tricky, but I think it would be a tie between Blake and Johnny. Blake respected her girlfriend, Pens, privacy when she was helping Olivia. Her brother Johnny was there for Pen when it seemed no one else was, he protected her from their parents and random people that would make fun of her because of how she looked or carried herself.
If you want to participate in our Book Club, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Book Club” in the subject line. We’ll be emailing out discussion questions to be posted in an article at the end of each month.
We will be posting our book for the month of September shortly, so be sure to check back and join us!