George by Alex Gino
Published by Scholastic Inc. on August 25th 2015
Genres: Young Adult
Buy on Amazon
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.
George stopped. It was such a short, little question, but she couldn’t make her mouth form the sounds.
Mom, what if I’m a girl?
This might be the most important novel released this year. George is a sensitive, honest, and much-needed story about a girl who – biologically – was born as a boy.
The simplicity of the story makes it even more emotional. Alex Gino never tries too hard to turn this book into a lesson, and there is no attempt to make us cry, but – personally – I think the subtle sadness, frustration and loneliness of George’s tale is what makes it so incredibly powerful and moving.
It’s an important subject, but like all great stories, this novel’s strength comes not from what it is about, but how it is told. One might think a first person narrative would make us feel closer to George and her story, but the clever third person narration immediately introduces George in female pronouns – a fact that completely changes the way we read the book. George is not a boy wanting to be a girl, but a girl in a world where no one else can see it. It’s an important distinction.
George is a middle-grade book, but that didn’t put me off in the slightest. It follows George as she longs to play Charlotte in her school play but is told she cannot even audition for the part because she is a boy. But she knows that she’s a girl. And she wants more than anything for the rest of the world to see it.
The story is sad and eye-opening – partly because of the bullying George endures, but even more so because of her loving mom’s inability to understand:
“You will always be my little boy, and that will never change. Even when you grow up to be an old man, I will still love you as my son.”
Though, ultimately, this is not a depressing book. It’s a heartwarming tale about learning to accept who you are, and it also educates the reader. It tells other Georges out there that they are not alone, that they have options, and that there is a support network available to them.
We should be giving this book to all children – male, female, transgender, intersex, genderqueer, or otherwise.
I'm Emily May - a twenty-something year old book blogger from the North of England. Currently going wherever the wind or the storyline takes me. Find me on Goodreads
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