Birthday by Meredith Russo was a rough read at times, though it was brilliant all the way through. Following two characters who share the same birthday, Eric and Morgan who have become best friends by the circumstance of their parents having met when they were both born, Birthday revisits them once a year on that same day as their relationship and lives fill with the many ups and downs of life, growing up, and changing.
Morgan has always felt as though she was born in the wrong body. Assigned the gender of male at birth, she is constantly at war with herself as she navigates the world’s expectations of her and who she feels she truly is. Eric, on the other hand, has an incredibly overbearing and cruel father who has already taken his wrath out upon his elder brother. This is the story of their growing up.
Honestly, it’s been a rather long time since a book made me tear up, but this one got to me. Brilliant in many different ways, one of the things this book does is grab you, tear at your heart, and then slowly build you up again. I don’t know if I could say it was a particularly fun experience, but it was definitely an experience I’m glad to have. Excellently told in alternating chapters between the two main characters, Birthday gives readers a glimpse into their lives once a year on their birthday. For such a quick peek into the lives of these two, I was rather impressed with how well I felt I knew the main characters by the end of it.
It’s the kind of book that keeps you thoroughly engaged the entire time you’re reading. I even managed to begin and finish it in just about a day’s worth of reading. You really grow to care about the characters and even as things go periodically up and down for them both, you feel like they could be real people. I’ll admit, it did feel a little cheesy near the end, but honestly I feel as though these two characters earned a little of that after all they went through. Definitely a book to put on your radar, Birthday is one that leaves an impression.
Content Warnings: homophobia, transphobia, suicidal ideations, alcohol abuse, violence.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.