George, by Alex Gino: An Introduction to Young Transgender Life

BookendsCindy: I was in the middle of reading George (2015), by Alex Gino, when a rising sixth-grader visited my house. She saw the book on my table and exclaimed, “Oh, I love that book. It is sooooo good.” So I solicited a written review from Rachael King, daughter of Kalamazoo Public Library’s Kevin King, to share with Bookends readers—but first, some thoughts of my own.

GeorgeGeorge is a 10-year-old transgender girl. Her mom, friends, classmates, and teachers see a boy, but that is not what George sees when she looks inside. She sees a girl, named Melissa, who wants to play the female lead of Charlotte in her class production of Charlotte’s Web. What unfolds is a gentle, touching story to add to the noteworthy shelf of transgender literature for young people. This is a book that will give comfort and hope to a young child who is feeling alone while fostering understanding among others. This title is targeted for a slightly younger audience than last year’s Gracefully Graysonby Ami Polonsky, but both novels are perfect for teachers, parents, and other adults to read for the stories and for what might be an introduction to young transgender life. They are also worthy of highlighting while Booklist’s debut “Spotlight on LGBTQ Lit” is still hot off the press. That issue includes a Top 10 LGBTQ for Youth bibliography compiled by Michael Cart. One of my favorite pieces of ALA exhibit-hall swag was a button to promote George featuring the same rainbow lettering but urging, “Be Who You Are.” And now for my guest reviewer . . . .

This book made me laugh, cry, and smile.

Rachael King: I loved this book. I think it gives you a little inside look at the transgender community and what it’s like growing up in a world where you were born in the wrong body. I thought the characters were well portrayed. Every time I told myself that I needed to stop reading, I ended up reading three more chapters. Overall, the book has a great message about being yourself no matter who judges you. I think this book is a very easy read, but also very influential. People who are interested in the transgender community, or are questioning their sex, would be very pleased with this book. I am going into sixth grade, and I think that’s the right age to understand the message and really appreciate the story. This book made me laugh, cry, and smile.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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