I’ve heard a lot about this book, so I was glad to finally have the chance to read it. It’s a thin book with lots of white space so I was able to read my library copy in one afternoon. And I had to read it in one afternoon, because I couldn’t put it down!
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.
George by Alex Gino was published by Scholastic Press in 2015.
This is the first time I’ve read a middle grade book with a main character who is transgender. I really felt as though I was seeing the world through Melissa’s eyes. This book had funny moments, sad ones, heartbreaking ones and hopeful ones. It made me think about the importance of respecting and accepting others for who they are. I think everyone should read this book. Even though it never comes across as trying to teach a lesson or send a message, it definitely makes you feel compassion and the need to stand up for anyone who is bullied for being different. I also really enjoyed the scenario of the Charlotte’s Web play, since I’m a big fan of that story too.
It was so effective to write this story from Melissa’s perspective as a girl even though outwardly she appears to be a boy. The idea that she hasn’t been ready or able to share this part of herself with anyone else comes across clearly in the novel. I’d love to read this book again to study the language and dialogue, which seemed so appropriate for the age group.
“George pulled a silver house key out of the smallest pocket of a large red backpack.”
“My point is, it takes a special person to cry over a book. It shows compassion as well as imagination.”
“The days passed George by in a haze of unhappiness.”
“But the world isn’t always good to people who are different. I just don’t want you to make your road any harder than it has to be.”
Alex Gino began writing George in 2003, and it was a long process with many revisions to create the finished novel.
I really liked what Alex Gino said about Melissa on their blog: “Melissa is who she is. The trouble is in how she is seen (and unseen) by the people around her.”
Alex Gino is currently at work on another middle grade novel, which incorporates issues of deafness, racism and police violence.
To find more great books to read, visit author Shannon Messenger's blog for a list of other bloggers who are featuring middle grade books today.