by Alex Gino
read in January 2017
review contains minor spoilers!
I finished my very first book for Diversity Bingo 2017! George is an own voices story. One topic down, 35 more to go! (I know I won’t be able to do them all, but I still want to try.)
Whenever I read books about LGBTQ characters, I often feel anxious. You know there is going to be a lot of heartbreak, even though the character deserves the world. I am generally not a fan of fluffy books, but when it comes to books like George, I am glad I got exactly that!
Someone who tried to add me on Goodreads, wrote a negative review of George and deliberately used the wrong pronouns to refer to the main character. Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinions BLABLABLA, but I seriously do not understand how people can 1) completely miss what this novel is about and 2) be so vicious that you cannot even refer to ‘George’ using the correct pronouns, even though it is done throughout the entire novel. An opinion is not the same as refusing to accept someone’s mere existence. So, out of spite, I had to read George right away and naturally, I did not accept that person’s friend request.
Besides the trans representation, there are some (side) characters who are people of colour! Kelly, who is Melissa’s best friend, is biracial and her skin is described as “light-brown”. Mr. Jackson, who is a teacher, is black.
I loved that Alex Gino used the she/her pronouns throughout the entire novel. Whenever someone referred to ‘George’ as “he” or “boy”, it felt very odd!
I hope every trans kid grows up with a friend like Kelly! She did everything she could to make Melissa’s dreams come through.
As for some other side characters, I have some less positive things to say (they were written in a less likeable way intentionally though, so this isn’t criticism). As a future teacher, I found Ms. Udell’s behaviour completely unacceptable. I also find it hard to forgive Melissa’s mother. Even though she is doing an effort now, I can’t excuse her past -horrible- behaviour. She thought her child was gay and never once had a conversation about it with them? Instead, she blames the victim and tells her she shouldn’t be “that kind of gay”. Furthermore, when Melissa says she is trans, her mother laughs and says she’ll feel different in a couple of years.
Even though I’m still not the biggest fan of middle grade novels due to their writing style, I really did enjoy George and I would recommend it to everyone!
As you can see, I did not rate this novel. That was done intentionally. I always write lengthy reviews and I think those convey my opinion much better than a star rating. So, that’s how things are going to be from now on.