Written by Alex Gino, George is the story of a child who is struggling in a world that doesn’t see her for who she is. All they can see is a boy when George knows in every part of her that she is a girl.
Early on, we learn that George’s greatest wish this school year is to play Charlotte in the fourth grade production of E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. She struggles against a teacher who believes that George’s audition is a joke, a classmate who is vicious and cruel, and a mother who doesn’t know what to do with a son who says he is a girl.
Throughout the story, George finds strength and encouragement in her best friend Kelly. The daughter of a musician, Kelly takes the revelation that George is a girl quite well. She still needs some time to think things through, but is ultimately both accepting and supportive of her friend going so far as to allow George to wear some of her clothes on a trip to the zoo and calling her Melissa, as George has requested.
Ultimately, George is able to take on the role of Charlotte, a performance that is surprisingly well-accepted by her peers and most of the school faculty. A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment is when the Principal quietly lets George know that her door is always open if George should need someone to speak to. Support like that is hard to find in the cis world and is nigh impossible to come across in the trans world.
While I could feel my heart breaking from the first moment that George has to hide in the bathroom with her girl magazines and the way she is subtly disgusted with her own body, this story has a happy ending that will leave readers with a sense of hope in the future.
One of the things I liked most about this story is that it is told from George’s point of view and George never once sees herself as a boy. From the beginning of the book all the way to the last page, George is a girl. Readers immediately understand that this is a girl who just happens to be in the body of a boy and, hopefully, will encourage tolerance and understanding in those who read this story.
This is a fairly short book, easy to read through in one sitting, and is perfectly relatable to the audience it was written for… It is of note that George is the first book of its type to be written for middle grade readers. It was an enjoyable read for me, as an adult, and was a great way to read about a child transgender character. The author has written an amazing book that will appeal to reader’s of all ages, but one that is also accessible to children and that presents the transgender topic in a way that is easy to understand.