ARC Review: George by Alex Gino

Tuesday, 28 July 2015
George, by Alex Gino
Publication: August 25, 2015, by Scholastic Press
Genre: Middle-Grade Fiction, Contemporary, LGBTQ
Pages: 240
Format: ARC
Source: BEA/Publisher

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she's not a boy. She knows she's a girl.
George thinks she'll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte's Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can't even try out for the part . . . because she's a boy.  
With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte -- but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

My Thoughts:

Now that pride and books that feature LGBTQ subjects are all over the place, every teacher or young person has been searching for that perfect middle-grade read that just seems to get it. Alex Gino's George did get it, and it gave it its all to readers, young or old. As it was once blurbed—everyone needs a copy of this book, and I surely agree. It's not everyday when us readers are practically blessed with a beautiful novel like this, and the cover is just something to start us off with.

From when its cover was released to the bookish public, I knew that I wanted to read this book. 2015 is a mega-huge year for all things pride and queer, and I'm so glad that this can be that read that shows that people can be different from a young age. There's not only those teenage-finding-yourself situations that impact us, something with only 240 pages can make us so excited and happy. 

"Charlotte was dead, but George was alive in a way she had never imagined. She watched the remainder of the show from the side of the stage, in a heady post-performance glow. Soon the audience began to clap." (ARC, page 157)

I loved this book, and let me mention that it's super cute! George is in the fourth-grade and "she" feels like she's actually a girl. She wishes to call herself Melissa and be happy and wear makeup, read girly magazines and giggle with her best friend Kelly like a girl would. But she feels that it's not normal for her to feel the way she does, and when the Charlotte's Web play comes around, she thinks this is the perfect way to pronounce her feelings to everyone—by playing Charlotte, a girl role. This is her 240-paged adventure that takes us through the hardships of being different in this stereotypical, rude society, especially for a small fourth-grader.

We usually read about these kinds of stories from the perspective of a teenager. Things by then usually become more understanding, and although bullying does increase by that stage, I believe that people are more normal and okay by the situation of someone feeling different, or transgender for that matter. George basically had one of the worst-case scenarios thrown into her life: her being young and not understanding everything. Because by adolescence, we seem to understand being transgender and the actual definition of it. George once believed that it was "typical" of her to be stuck feeling like a girl. Sure, it isn't normal or ordinary, but it's okay and she hadn't thought it was.

I guess that this threw me into a puddle of feels from the start. I felt so much sympathy and guilt for George as her life was turning for the worst. Her dad's out of the picture, she doesn't have many friends because she feels like she doesn't fit in, and her best and only friend is a girl. NO ONE UNDERSTANDS THE POOR GIRL. Feels? Feels. I can't even count on my fingers and toes the number of times I wanted to jump onto my bed and bawl into my pillow, you know? Gino captures this story perfectly into a small bundle of hope. That's what this book was, to educate young people about something that's becoming more and more typical for everyone to see or read about. I love this subject.

"Reading the word transgender sent a shiver down George's spine. She wondered where she could find a safe space like that, and if there would be other girls like her there. Maybe they could talk about makeup together. Maybe they could even try some on." (ARC, page 125)

You might be suspecting that this is a new favourite book of mine: it's not. I see the clear hype around this novel and I ADORE it, but it's not my favourite middle-grade read, though it certainly is one of the better books of the year so far. What kind of throws me into a negative curveball is the fact that I saw this to be more childish, which isn't one of the book's personal issues, it's mine, the reader's. I normally don't read middle-grade fiction, and when I do, I always like to appreciate the younger characters and atmosphere of the story. A lot of this book was focused on the Charlotte's Web play instead of George trying to confide in others (like her mom or brother) until the ending, which I really would've enjoyed far more than a 4 star rating. It sure had that capability.

George is one of the most strongest heroines I've read about in a while. I'M SO PROUD OF MY CUTIE PATOOTIE! Want a load of character development? I think that you're already guessing what I'm going to say but I'll say it anyways: READ THIS BOOK. Want to see a character go from shy to speaking her words out loud? (And it's a tough thing to do, too.) George will grow to be your friend unlike any other character. Gino makes a character-to-reader relationship that feels that she's only telling her story to you and only you. Imagine sitting by a campfire eating smores with one of your friends and they tell you a story—it's like that. And you don't even have to relate to George to understand and love her story. It kind of just happens.

You know how there are some classics that you buy to add to your collection because you JUST KNOW that they have to be in your bookshelf? This is definitely one of them. Whether you're classified as a YA reader forever and always or an adult one, this is a read that you'll devour in an instant and one sitting. The book gods depend on you reading it. GO PRE-ORDER IT NOW, I'M BEGGING YOU. August 25 couldn't come any faster, I bet for you anticipating bookworms. 

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much!*

I think Alex Gino has done a first... but let me ask you: Are there any other middle-grade reads that feature some LGBTQ elements?


  1. This looks pretty great. Like you said, it's more normal to see books like this told from the perspective of a teenager, mainly because I think slightly older readers will be able to catch all of the emotional complexities. I don't think I've actually read a book about a character discovering he/she is transgender, but rather coincidentally the last book I read, Kafka On The Shore by Haruki Murakami, featured a transgender character, who I thought was very well done.

    I don't normally read ARC reviews because I prefer to let a book sit for a while before I decide whether to read it or not, but this one does look very interesting. I think the last time I read a middle grade book was back when I was actually in the target demographic so I'd say I could find the change a little jarring. Even still, the story does look very powerful, so thanks for the review.

    1. Definitely. I loved the way Gino portrayed this subject because it wasn't all hardcore where George wanted the surgery and everything. We never usually read about the early stages of when people realize the truth about their bodies/minds, and this is that chance. OOOOOH Haruki Murakami! I really want to read his book, 1Q84! It sounds fabulous. I just searched up Kafka on the Shore and it also sounds like something I'd enjoy!

      Ahh okay. I've always wanted to read this book since I've seen the cover and synopsis for it, and I'm so glad that I enjoyed it. I rarely read middle grade too, and this book originally was picked up by me for my younger sister but I knew I HAD to read this, hah. The perks! I really do hope you give it a chance, it kind of changed my viewpoint on diversity in literature, which is truly a benefit for all of us.

    2. I will say if you're looking to get into Murakami definitely start with Norwegian Wood. Kafka On The Shore ... it's really, really weird. And dark (I shit you not. There's a scene where someone cuts open live cats and eats their hearts). Norwegian Wood is much easier to follow and is generally accepted as his most accessible book. It also just happens to be really good. The characters are great and the writing is pretty beautiful. Definitely don't start with 1Q84 or Kafka On The Shore unless you're prepared for weirdness and/or not understanding what's going on.

    3. I'm really excited for his books, I'll get them soon! OH MY, live cats. *shudders* Thanks for letting me know haha! I love reading books that were originally written in foreign languages, it's so cool to imagine the translations and what has changed! :)


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