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Reviewed by Kim Anisi for Readers' Favorite
Maddie, the hero of the young adult novel "I Love You Just the Way You Are" by Riley Rian, is a transgender girl and has to deal with all the problems that come with it. It becomes a lot harder when Maddie decided to return back to a normal school instead of learning at home - and to do so as a girl. Everyone at the school only knew her as Jeff, a boy. Maddie knew it would not be easy, but it turned into an even bigger challenge because something happened during the summer holidays: Kellan, Maddie's crush, noticed her while she was working in a café. And he wanted to get to know her. But Maddie did everything she could to discourage him because she was sure what would happen if he found out who she really was. The first day at school turned into a small catastrophe. Fortunately, Maddie has a great best friend and an incredible family - but soon, everything would become even more complicated.
I Love You Just the Way You Are is book one in the Rock Canyon Series by Riley Rian. The story is told from the point of view of Maddie and Kellan, which gives readers an interesting insight into how both sides think. We get to know why Kellan reacts the way he does to the realization that the girl he fell in love with over the summer was born as a boy. Through him, we also learn more about why other people have a problem with transgender people, and how it can all spiral out of control. But we also learn how someone can change their mind. Maddie, on the other hand, shows us the challenges a transgender girl goes through, and even though I sometimes wanted to yell at her, I couldn't help but just cheer for her, hoping that things would turn out kind of okay in the end. It is a story woven together with a lot of love and care from the author's side. It is a very authentic story, and you can tell it's not just one cliché after the other (which so often happens in LGBTQ stories). The language was beautiful, the story was engaging and I absolutely loved that it was a long story. Every page had its purpose!