I read one page of the novel George by Alex Gino, and was hooked. One chapter, and I fell in love. When the book was sad, I fought back tears. When it was happy, I pumped my fists in the air and shouted for joy.
George is a current story that sets out to tell the truth. The truth of a girl who knows she is a girl, but was born in a boy's body. This is a story of determination, courage and love. It is a journey of self-discovery and you as the reader are going through it alongside the main character, Melissa.
Melissa is a transgender girl in the fourth grade. To the rest of the world she is known as George. Melissa is the name she calls herself in the mirror. However, Melissa keeps this a secret from everyone in her life, including her mother and big brother, Scott, and her best friend, Kelly, because she is afraid that they won’t love and accept her. Therefore, Melissa goes through her days feeling alone.
When Melissa’s teacher announces that the class will perform a production of Charlotte's Web, Melissa really wants to be Charlotte, the spider. While she and Kelly practice Charlotte’s lines together, Melissa loves saying the spider’s lines out loud. She feels that if she gets the part of Charlotte she will not only enjoy the role, but she will finally get to show her school and her family who she truly is.
When the day of auditions finally comes, Melissa bravely begins to try out for Charlotte, beginning with the spider’s famous greeting, “Salutations.” Abruptly, Melissa’s teacher stops her and tells her that only the girls are allowed to try out for the spider’s role. Melissa is devastated, until she and her best friend Kelly hatch a plan.
All of the characters in this novel are incredible. Melissa is kind, shy and brilliant. Kelly, Melissa's best friend, is witty, funny and sharp. Mom is kind-hearted and stubborn. Scott, the older brother, is understanding and funny. Rick and Jeff are the big bullies in this story. Although it is sad to see your favorite character being pushed around, in the end, it is rewarding to see them stand up for what she believes.
It makes sense that Alex Gino chose E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web as the play in the book, because both Charlotte’s Web and George share the theme of friendship. Melissa and Kelly are the best of friends, just as Charlotte and Wilbur are. When Melissa finally tells Kelly that she is a girl inside, Kelly is confused at first, but she comes to realize that this is who Melissa is and it won’t change their friendship. This gives Melissa the confidence to take a bold risk in front of her everyone she cares about. Both George and Charlotte’s Web are incredible pieces of literature that show us how friendship can inspire acceptance and self-confidence.
Alex Gino is a fantastic writer who tells a story similar to their own. I am not surprised that George has won so many medals. If I were going to write a book, it would be like this one, because it is a beautiful story that shows its readers how to live honestly as ourselves. George has inspired me to be more open with gender and my emotions. It has changed my life forever, and it will change yours too!
George by Alex Gino. Scholastic, 2015. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!
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