Author: Alex Gino
Genre: Middle Grade
Length: 195 pages
George is a fourth grader. Her friends and family see George as a boy. However, George knows he is really a she, but doesn’t know how to tell her friends and family.
When her fourth grade class plans to a put on a performance of Charlotte’s Web, George wants to play the part of Charlotte more than anything. But Charlotte is a girl’s part, so she doesn’t know if it’s possible to even try out. But George believes by playing Charlotte, she will be viewed as a girl for the first time in her life.
I loved this book and breezed though it quickly. The language and content is definitely geared toward a young middle grade audience, but the story appeals to all ages, children and adults alike. (My twelve-year old liked it too.)
I am far from an expert on transgender issues, but I believe the story of George becoming Melissa was told in a realistic way. It was not easy for her to share this news with her friends and family. She had some support, but she also had to deal with bullies and a mother who was unwilling to hear what she was saying. The story hints that telling her friends and family is just the beginning of a long road ahead.
The characters were well-developed. George was a very likable protagonist and the author did a great job of getting into her head even though this was told in third person. Kelly, as her best friend, is the type of friend everyone deserves. The mother, the brother, the bully, the teacher, and even the principal all played unique roles and represent the variety of people one might encounter in real life with their varying levels of acceptance of transgender youth.
The story was sweet and held my attention, even as an adult. It an emotional read and moved me to tears a couple times, both happy and sad ones. I just wanted to reach into the book and give both George/Melissa and Kelly a big hug.
Although the story was about a transgender girl grappling with coming out as a girl to her friends and family, the message about being yourself can be applied in a much broader sense. I highly recommend George to both children and adults and hope eventually books like these will be on the shelves of all schools and libraries.
I am a member of two book clubs, and we read a variety of genres. Plus, as a Young Adult author, I read a lot YA and MG books to improve my writing. And as a mother, I am always on the lookout for good books for my children.
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