I listened to the audiobook version
“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?”
The middle-grade debut by Alex Gino, George, tells the story of a girl whom the world identifies as a boy. When Gino’s heroine is not cast in the lead role for a fourth-grade production of Charlotte’s Web, she decides to reveal her true identity.
Born a boy, George knows in her heart that she is a girl. The emotional triggers in this are very well placed and you can’t help but be drawn into her journey as she tries to navigate what it means to be transgender. From scanning magazines for make up tips, to speaking her private name (Melissa) and trying to figure out how to tell her mum that she isn’t her little boy, Gino places George perfectly into the hearts and minds of the reader.
“She looked in the mirror and gasped. Melissa gasped back at her. For a long time, she stood there, just blinking. George smiled, and Melissa smiled too.”
I like that Charlotte’s Web was weaved into this book seamlessly as it was a great conduit for George to express her true self. It was also an interesting way to see how other characters would react to George presenting herself as a girl to an unsuspecting crowd. I also enjoyed seeing the dynamics between all the kids – even the horrible ones.
Kelly, Kelly, Kelly. Every child needs a best friend like Kelly. Full of life and incredibly supportive, Kelly doesn’t even bat an eyelid when George tells her that she feels like a girl rather than a boy. It was also really nice to see a kid of her age stand so strongly beside her best friend through this big life revelation. Cue adorable best friend moments that just needed a cheesy 80s movie soundtrack behind it.
I will say that there were things about this that I didn’t like. The teacher was very dramatic and felt very harsh to me. She reminded me of the drama teacher from the High School Musical movies minus all the nurturing. I also found the dialogue a little unrealistic at times. George and her classmates are 10(?) yet they sometimes speak as though they are adults – I think their vocabulary was better than mine at times.
But I digress, because at the end of the day this book isn’t about those things. This book is about acceptance. It’s about self-discovery. It’s about living your own truth with a proverbial fuck you to anyone who can’t accept you for who you are.
This is a very short read that I implore you all to pick up. If I could make one recommendation though it would be to read the book, not listen to the audiobook like I did. My issue with the audio version is that the narrator just didn’t seem right for this type of story.
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