07 July 2018

George by Alex Gino

Series: N/A
# of Pages: 195
Publication: August 25, 2015
Source: Library Audiobook
Genre: Realistic Fiction
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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 read this book for my children’s literature class and thought that it was a unique and interesting book that really captures the feelings and emotions of a transgender child. If I’m correct this is the first time that I’ve actually read a book that featured a transgender main character. I know, shame on me; however, this really prompted me to expand my horizons when it comes to representations. This book was captivating and one of the best things about this book was that it utilized the correct pronouns for the main character. Although George is biologically a boy, Alex Gino focuses on using she/her/hers as the pronouns to represent how the main character identifies in terms of gender. One of the most difficult aspects about reading this book was listening to how defeated George became when she realized that even her mother did not understand what it meant to be transgender instead of gay. From hiding magazines in her book bag to dreaming of playing Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web, George grabs the attention of the readers and really gives them a first hand experience of what it means and feels like to be born into the wrong body.

While I did enjoy the concept of this book, there were two aspects that ultimately brought the book down to four stars instead of five. The writing was simplistic and the plot was not as complex as I felt it needed to be with such an intense topic. Although I know the book is written for a middle grade audience, I think that Alex Gino could have delved a little deeper into the core of George’s problems. Everything felt a little to service level for my taste. In addition to the writing, I did have a problem with the way that Gino assumes that all middle grade readers would know and understand the importance of using the correct pronouns for individuals who identify as transgender. Of course as an adult and someone who is an advocate for the LGBTQIA community, I knew automatically what was intended when Gino utilized she/her instead of he/him. However, I know that this could lead to some confusions for middle grade readers. I think that there should have been some explanation prior to the use of the correct pronouns that way children can be prepared and taught what is appropriate. It’s hard to assume that people know what is correct and incorrect.

Other than those two features, I thought that the book was definitely an important read. I recently fought to have it featured as one of the books for the children’s Battle of the Books at my library; however, I was out voted. If there is one book that features a transgender character in middle grade literature that should be read, I would definitely recommend this one. I heard Alex Gino speak at YallFest a little over a year and a half ago and it was phenomenal. If you’re interested in introducing middle grade readers to a transgender character I would recommend this book; however, I would also have some discussions prior to the book about what it means to be transgender and what it means to use the correct pronouns.


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