To everyone, George is a boy. But George likes to think of herself as Melissa. As if middle school wasn’t difficult enough, Melissa is a very brave girl who is dealing with the complications of revealing herself to the rest of the world. We see how she deals with her friends, her mother, her brother, teachers, and schoolyard enemies. For the most part, she is surrounded by well-meaning people who are simply struggling with how to acknowledge her.
I have read that this is the first middle grade book with a trans protagonist so I feel that this is an important book. Though at times it can feel a bit didactic, I believe that is the point. This book is an opportunity for us to try to get a taste of how someone struggling must feel.
It is a window into the life of a transgender person. It allows us to see the assumptions ingrained in us by society that can marginalize someone like George. It is a mirror allowing us to see our reaction to someone we care for revealing themselves. I asked myself many questions. How would you react as a parent? Which of these characters am I? Most importantly, which of these characters do I want to be? I loved how open, accepting, and encouraging Kelly was to George. Should a child of my find themselves struggling with identity in this way, I would wish them a friend like Kelly.
This is a wonderful story about true friendship, exploration, finding yourself, accepting yourself, and being brave enough to do what feels right to you. George’s struggles can speak to many other middle grade issues and also give us a valuable insight into ourselves and how we treat others.
This would be a wonderful book for a book club to prompt discussion and critical thinking!