George by Alex Gino
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"She had genuinely started to believe that if people could see her onstage as Charlotte, maybe they would see that she was a girl offstage too.
Ten year-old George is a transgender girl who dreams of playing Charlotte in her class production of Charlotte's Web. However, the role of the kind and wise spider is a girl's part, and everyone around George sees her as a boy. George hopes that by playing Charlotte, people will see her for who she is.
This well-written story is as warm-hearted and kind as everyone's favorite fictional spider. George's journey toward being who she is meant to be is not easy. But she finds comfort in a few key characters -- the unabashed support of her best friend, the quiet acceptance of her older brother, and the calming influence of her principal. George's story is only beginning. The path to living her identity will be long. But the story builds around the hope that she will find others who will see her as who she is.
I was struck by one element of craft as I read. We talk about point of view as an authorial choice. First person versus third person is framed as the writer's preference, as if it is six of one and half-dozen of the other. However, Gino's decision to tell this story in third person seems as wise as Charlotte. As a result, George's thoughts are "she" instead of "I." The pronouns make all the difference and provide a gentle but unwavering reminder of George's identity. Who she is lives on every page because of this point of view. Kudos to them.
This story is lovingly told and age appropriate. It will change many young lives and fills a much needed hole on our children's bookshelves.
"She wished she could be Charlotte now."
I finished the story with a warm hope for George's future. We all wish we could instantly be the person we are becoming. Unfortunately, it's not that easy but, if we are lucky, we will have a best friend at our side as we try.
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