I Love You Just the Way You Are

Rock Canyon Series Book 1

Fiction - LGBTQ
402 Pages
Reviewed on 06/27/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

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!

Nicholus Schroeder

I Love You Just the Way You Are: Rock Canyon Series Book 1 is a romance by Riley Rian. Maddie was working at her favorite café over the summer break and that is where he first saw her. Kellan was immediately blown away by the striking beauty before his eyes. She was unlike any girl he had met before: beyond the mesmerizing looks was a girl as real as the floor beneath him. For the first time in his life, all he longed for was to talk about everything and nothing with the prettiest girl he had seen. Kellan then made his move and was promptly rejected. This was a new experience for him, as being Rock Canyon High's star quarterback had certain perks. Kellan wasn’t going to give up, but all summer long his advances were rejected. Once the break was over Kellan found out that she went to the same school he did and, more importantly, that Maddie was transgender. Kellan had conflicting feelings, but he shook off those thoughts because he still saw her as the goddess that invaded his dreams and his waking thoughts. Maddie, however, wasn’t sure if he was honest about how he still felt and she didn’t want to get hurt. She had suffered enough by being her authentic self. What is in store for these two? Will taboo love bloom, or will a dark and uncaring society nip it at the bud before it blossoms?

I Love You Just the Way You Are was an emotional read! This is one of those rare books that leave you with a strong feeling of euphoria and elation after you read the last page. Riley Rian has woven together one of the most endearing love stories I've come across. It was heartbreaking at times, as I found myself invested in the story and characters. The scenes filled my heart with warmth. Riley’s writing kept the romance going and made it more adorable, scene after scene. The characters make or break a love story, and Riley's characters were phenomenal. Maddie and Kellan were so well-developed and polished that you could put them in any genre and they'd fit right in. Supporting characters were written with care. I enjoyed the hilarious jokes and sketches. Riley tucked in some great humor and I loved it! I recommend this book to readers who want to lose themselves in a story of true love!

Marie Duddle

I Love You Just The Way You Are by Riley Rian is a love story that transports us into the challenging world of a transgender boy named Jeff. Jeff, who becomes known as Maddie, is deeply unhappy but afraid to tell her family; this leads to an unsuccessful suicide attempt. She then comes out to her parents who immediately embrace and reassure her. Mustering all her courage, she eventually decides to attend school dressed as a girl. Fellow students recognize her as Jeff and mercilessly bully and harass Maddie till Kellan, the football hero and a guy all the girls swoon over, comes to Maddie’s defense. They met previously when Maddie worked as a waitress during the holidays and, smitten, Kellan tries to befriend her. Maddie, despite secretly mooning over Kellan for a long time, refuses his attempts, afraid of future rejection.

This story, bold and daring, verges on the threshold of shocking but deserves its place to ensure the story’s transparency and honesty. It is warm, frank, and witty; a reminder of how powerful love can be when a young couple stands united against inevitable disapproval. The youthful vernacular could be confusing to older readers, but Riley Rian does not leave us hanging, he follows through by explaining the lingo. Sadly, I apprehended the injustice done to those who society considers “different”; the isolation and loneliness. I Love You Just The Way You Are is worth a read as it is a reminder of the prejudice toward those who dare to be true to themselves.

Tiffany Ferrell

Coming out as transgender was one of the hardest decisions that Maddie had to make. She starts presenting herself as the female she is and within weeks catches the eye of the most popular guy in school. Realizing that he doesn’t recognize her, Maddie is unsure of what to think. One thing she knew for sure was that he went through girlfriends quickly and not to her liking. Feeling she’d only be a notch on his bedpost, she rejected him time after time. Hoping that no one would realize who she was after being homeschooled, she was heartbroken to see that they all knew what she was and wanted to make her life hell. Meanwhile, Kellan has been wanting to get close to this enigma of a girl since he first saw her at the coffee shop. While he was shocked to find out on the first day that she’s trans, he begins to realize that it doesn’t matter. It didn’t take him long to figure out that what he was feeling is the real deal. The only problem is that Maddie doesn’t want him, or does she?

I absolutely loved I Love You Just the Way You Are. This is one of the first novels that I have found with a transgender main character. It’s an amazing story of a brave girl who decides that she wants to live her life being true to herself, being the girl that she always knew she was. I also love the character development of Kellan as he finds himself falling hopelessly in love with her despite finding out what she is. I think both main characters are very well written and thought out. Myself not being trans or a part of the LGBTQ+ community but an ally, I love that this book puts you in Maddie’s shoes with her thought process, the trauma and struggle she faces, and the amount of hate. It really shows the real-life struggles these teens face daily and throughout their lives. Riley Rian has done a wonderful job with this book and I’m excited to see that it’s a series! I look forward to reading the next one!

Rabia Tanveer

I Love You Just the Way You Are is the first novel in the Rock Canyon Series by Riley Rian. A sweet tale of acceptance and love, the story follows the love story of Kellan and Maddie. Kellan has fallen in love with Maddie, a trans girl. Kellan is the popular star quarterback who streams on Twitch and draws manga art in his spare time. The moment Maddie transitioned into her true self, Kellan fell in love with her. The only issue is Maddie has a hard time accepting a guy like Kellan would ever fall in love with her. She is terrified of falling in love with someone and having her heart broken because of who she truly is. Can Kellan make Maddie believe he truly loves her? And once she does, will they handle the pressure of society?

You hardly find a novel where trans people get the limelight. These bold and important characters are either side characters or in the background, a simple filler piece in the story. Author Riley Rian does a great of creating a safe yet very realistic story of what trans people go through when they transition and have an issue with finding the confidence to be truly themselves. We get a good, wholesome romance, but we also get to experience self-hate, doubt, transphobia, abuse, and more that these vulnerable people have to go through. The narrative is simple, yet powerful enough to leave an impact on the reader. The author uses certain language that may make you feel uncomfortable, but it is scarily realistic. The fact that trans people have to face this language from the people they love the most is heartbreaking. Having friends like Destiny and Kellan truly helps. I Love You Just the Way You Are will be a huge help for people going through their transition because it is more than just a love story.