Dara’s lived a sheltered life with her single mom, Mellie. Now, at eighteen, she’s dreaming of more. When Dara digs up her never-before-seen birth certificate, her world implodes. Why are two strangers listed as her parents?
Dara confronts her mother, and is stunned by what she learns: Mellie is transgender. The unfamiliar name listed under “father”? That’s Mellie. She transitioned when Dara was a baby, shortly after Dara’s birth mother died.
But Dara still has more questions than answers. Reeling, she sets off on a road trip with her best guy friend, Sam. She’s determined to find the extended family she’s never met. What she discovers—and what her mother reveals, piece by piece over emails—will challenge and change Dara more than she can imagine.
From rising star Jessica Verdi, this is a gorgeous, timely, and essential novel about the importance of being our true selves.
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⭐️ “Verdi’s respect and care are evident in every character in the book, no matter how brief their appearance, especially boy-next-door Sam and Dara’s wealthy, ultraconservative grandparents, who, although they do some terrible things, aren’t written off as evil. Verdi’s book is a triumph—an exquisite mirror in which trans parents and their children will see themselves. And for once, the reflection won’t break their hearts.” — Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“Brutally honest … unflinching … a compelling reading experience … a valuable addition to library collections.” — School Library Journal
“Both women’s flaws and growth ring true.” — Booklist
“This book puts transgender issues directly in the middle of the plot and does not treat them as a sidebar. It is a solid choice for all YA collections.” — School Library Connection
“A heartfelt tale.” — BCCB
“Verdi just gets better and better with every book. And She Was is a beautiful, multilayered journey of love, understanding, and empathy that made me want to be a better daughter, ally, and person.” — Dahlia Adler, author of Under the Lights
“A heart-tugging, powerful story of family, identity, and the struggle for acceptance. A beautiful novel that treats every moment with incredible care, Jessica Verdi’s latest is a different kind of love story—one about loving yourself, your family, and your life. And it features my favorite mother-daughter relationship since Gilmore Girls.” — Corey Ann Haydu, author of OCD Love Story
“An engrossing story about the collision of big, grand dreams and long-held life-saving family secrets. I could not stop turning pages and cheering for Dara.” — Caela Carter, author of Tumbling
“And She Was took me right back to my adolescence, a time when I was struggling to come to terms with my trans parent’s identity while figuring out my own.” — Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker Sharon Shattuck