December 12, 2017

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George by Alex Gino | SLJ Review

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Gino- GeorgeGino, Alex. George. 240p. Scholastic. Sept. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545812542; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9780545812580.

Gr 4-6–Before her mother and older brother Scott come home, George has a few, treasured moments to experience life as she’s always wanted to live it. She looks in the mirror and calls herself Melissa, combs her hair over her forehead to mimic the appearance of bangs, and reads glossy magazines full of ads for lipstick, perfume, and tampons. Once her mom and brother come home, however, the magazines must go back to their secret hiding place. While George has no doubt she’s a girl, her family relates to her as they always have: as a boy. George hopes that if she can secure the role of Charlotte in her class’s upcoming production of Charlotte’s Web, her mom will finally see her as a girl and be able to come to terms with the fact that George is transgender. With the help of her closest ally, Kelly, George attempts to get the rest of the world to accept her as she is. While children can have a sense of their gender identity as early as the age of three, children’s literature is shockingly bereft of trans* protagonists, especially where middle grade literature is concerned. George offers more than the novelty of an LGBTQ coming-out story, however. Here, what is most remarkable is the use of pronouns: While the world interacts with George as if she is a boy, the narrator only refers to her with female pronouns, which gives her girl-ness a stronger sense of validation. In addition, George comments on the fact that, in past years, gays and lesbians have achieved a certain amount of visibility and acceptance, while the trans* community is still largely ignored and misunderstood. George’s mother remarks that while she can handle having a gay child, she simply can’t accept her as “that kind of gay.” For George, as is the case for many LGBTQ youth, coming out is a process that she must repeat until she is properly recognized. There is pain in George, but not without the promise of a better tomorrow, even if tomorrow doesn’t arrive as soon as it should. VERDICT A required purchase for any collection that serves a middle grade population.–Ingrid Abrams, Brooklyn Public Library, NY

This review was published in School Library Journal‘s July 2015 issue. 

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Comments

  1. Barbara Fiehn says:

    I loved George. Well written and only 159 pages. Perfect for 4-6th grade readers. An easier read than Gracefully Grayson. 2014. Hyperion which requires a bit more mature 5th -7th grade reader. George is amore advanced read than I AM JAZZ and much needed for the age group.