Book: George by Alex Gino
Published August 2015 by Scholastic Press|195 pages
Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
BE WHO YOU ARE.
When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.
George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part…because she’s a boy.
With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.
I’ve heard really good things about George, and I randomly picked it up from the library one day, figuring it was time to see what everyone was talking about. If you haven’t read George yet, it’s definitely worth checking out!
What I liked most is that George is that it introduces transgender as an identity in a middle grade book- I don’t know of any other middle grade books, and I feel like we see transgender characters in YA, but not middle grade.
I found myself getting really angry at Melissa’s teacher (by the way, Melissa is the name George wants to go by, so I’ll be calling her Melissa), for not giving the role to Melissa, even though she auditioned for it, and she really wanted it. Her reasoning was that there were too many girls who wanted the part, and that’s why it couldn’t go to Melissa, but part of me thinks that part of why she didn’t want to give it to Melissa is because Melissa is a girl, even though the world sees her as a boy. Maybe the teacher worried about what others would think, but it seemed like Melissa was the perfect person to play Charlotte. When Melissa’s best friend let Melissa play Charlotte, everyone thought she was great in the role, and no one seemed to have a problem with it except for the teacher. It made me sad to see that and yet, it wasn’t surprising.
I really felt for Melissa, who struggled to come out to both her mother and her best friend Kelly. I loved Kelly, who was really accepting when Melissa came out to Kelly. And even though Melissa’s mom had a different reaction (she seemed to think Melissa was gay, and not a transgender girl at first, before Melissa told her), she does seem to love Melissa a lot, even if she doesn’t seem to understand that Melissa is a girl. I also felt for her because of the bullying that she has to deal with. I can’t imagine dealing with everything that Melissa has to deal with.
I really liked how Melissa’s story is told- it’s simple, and right from the start, Melissa is a girl in a world who sees her as a boy. She is not stuck in the wrong body, and she is not a boy wanting to be a girl. She’s a girl in a world that does not see her a girl, which I think is an important distinction to make, because we see that Melissa is a girl right from the start, and that Melissa has known for a long time who she is.
George is one of those books everyone should read, no matter who they are. It’s a book about accepting who you are, and it’s hopeful and heartwarming and lets the other Melissa’s in the world that they are not alone and that they have options.
4 stars. I really liked George, and it’s a book everyone should read.