George by Alex Gino

book   earnest

Okay you guys. I’m going to write a lengthy post about George by Alex Gino. Probably similar to one of my my first posts (about Wonder). This book has been generating SO MUCH buzz (I put links at the bottom because there’s just so many). If you haven’t heard about it you probably don’t work in the book world. So for those of you who don’t work in the wonderful world of books here’s a summary from Goodreads,

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.

So. This is a book about a transgender fourth grader. I liked it overall. Some parts of it felt overly informational to me. For example, “A boy could become a girl… you could take girl hormones that would change your body, and you could get a bunch of different surgeries if you wanted them and had the money. This was called transitioning. You could even start before you were eighteen with pills called androgen blockers that stopped the boy hormones…” The italicizing of transitioning made me feel like there’d be a glossary at the end. This is not the only word that was italicized btw. The inclusion of the name of the pills was also weird to me. They have made such a grounded publicity campaign about how this book is for everyone and yet I feel like that particular part (and some others around it) is tailored to kids who are transitioning and not to everyone who’s reading to read. Throughout the whole book George refers to herself as her, never he (although others in the book do refer to her as he). Only when she actually puts on girl clothes does she refer to herself as Melissa, the girl name she’s chosen. I didn’t like that the thing that made her feel complete as Melissa was just the clothes. Trying on girl clothes doesn’t always mean you want to BE a girl.

SPOILER ALERT: That being said I really LOVE the part where George comes off the stage after being Charlotte and is bombarded with reactions from her classmates, teacher, principal etc. I think it was the perfect representation of the multiple reactions anyone, including kids, would get in society about transitioning but in a way kids would understand. Some told her she was awesome. Some said, “You can’t just do that!” and “It’s disrupting to the other actors.” Which was responded to with, “Why not? He was good.” In life, a lot of the reactions would be the same (on a different scale in some cases I’m sure) but there would be people who would say, you can’t do that or you’re disrupting my child etc.

In the end I think this book did a great job with a hushed subject, esp in children’s literature (which I define as younger than age 12). Also, everything did not end hunkey-dory for George/Melissa. Her mom did not hug her and say, oh everything will be great let’s go buy you some dresses. She said, let’s go to counseling for ME and you, not in order to change her but to understand. It was handed well and I enjoyed it. I can’t wait to find another book person who’s read it so I can chat it out with them! Let’s chat it out in the comments y’all!

“The Buzz” about George

New York Times

The Guardian

Christian Today

NPR

Entertainment Weekly

School Library Journal

Publisher’s Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

 

 

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4 Comments

Filed under book review, children, current news, fiction

4 responses to “George by Alex Gino

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