Tuesday, 10 January 2017

George by Alex Gino

George is everything I could ever want in a children's book. It tackles real issues and more specifically gender issues, in a way that no other children's book has before.

You have probably heard about George. With its bright white cover and title text in the pride colours, it's hard to miss this book on the shelf. It's also hard to miss the controversy around it, because this book, placed in the 9-12 years of age range in the book store, is a book about a transgender child.

George had always known she was a girl, it's just that the rest of the world sees her as a boy. George is different from every other child, frequently bullied for being weak or girly for a boy. However, that is who George really is. Aged around 9/10 in the book, George is on a mission of self discovery. With a secret stash of girly pre-teen magazines stashed away in a private bag, George had been learning all about the world of girlhood and wondering how she can fit in.

At school, her class is learning about Charlotte's Web and as such, will be holding a play. Being deeply enamoured by the spider Charlotte, George longs to play her in on stage, but the teachers black and white view on gender comes into play, and sets in motion a series of events where George opens up to express who he truly is.

This book was so beautifully written. As an own voices novel, with Gino being transgender theirselves, this book offers an accurate look into the life of a transgender child. Though some images are clearly exaggerated in ordered to highlight the issues (overt gender structures, for example), it is children that Gino is appealing to here and thus the message is abundantly clear. I felt captivated by Gino'a words and the reactions of the characters that they wrote. Seeing the prejudices and fears that family and friends may have about these issues was certainly interesting and also eye opening. There is a great mix of reactions and solutions tackled that certainly open up a world of thinking that some- and children in particular- struggle to understand.

What I liked most about this book is that the transgender character is not used as a token. There have been a few books I've read where the transgender character is presented as a sensationalist character, where it is used as a plot twist *cough*Only We Know*cough*. This delicately and accurately handles the topic without reducing the novel to gimmicks.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was refreshing to read something to unique and interesting and something that so simply offers a way for people to understand the topic. Transgender rights and particularly those of children are fiercely debated and argued and to see thisnside, from someone whose been there, will certainly increase awareness and open dialogue. All children- all people- should read this book.


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