[Editor’s Note: Please welcome Hannah to BiblioSmiles! I’m really glad that Hannah struck up a conversation with Gabriele at BookCon and decided to contribute to the blog! I hope you enjoy her review of George, which is set to release on August 25th from Scholastic Press.]
This summer, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend both Book Expo America (BEA) and BookCon, two wonderfully nerdy book events that really just make me happy to be a reader. While there, I attended a panel discussing upcoming middle grade novels. Now I know I’m slightly above a middle grade reading level, but I truly love the stuff, so I couldn’t resist going to the panel.
Every book sounded amazing! One of them, presented by an almost tearful, gushing David Levithan, really got my attention. That book was Alex Gino’s George. Like so many books before it, and hopefully so many after, George sounded like one of those books Hermione Granger might even neglect her charms homework to read. I knew I absolutely had to get my hands on a copy, so I ran to grab myself an uncorrected proof before they ran out. And, I’m so happy I did.
George is about a little girl who just wants to be the person she knows she is. She was born into a boy’s body, but she doesn’t feel like a boy. However, because of her age and the negativity surrounding the LGBTQI+ community, she doesn’t know what she is supposed to do with this heavy knowledge. Transgender stories have become incredibly relevant stories in the news lately, but before George, I had yet to see it in many literary sources, and that wasn’t really fair.
George does everything she can to keep her secret, until one day she realizes that she really doesn’t want to anymore. She decides she’ll have to play Charlotte, the cunning and elegant spider from E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, and then everyone will know who she really is. But, she can’t do it alone. George enlists her best friend, Kelly, to help her on her quest to play Charlotte, and to be herself, and, as a reader, we get to join in and root for our girl as well.
George examines identity and acceptance in a way many children’s books do not. I wouldn’t say George is the best book I’ve ever read, but it certainly ranks high on my list. It’s perfect for anyone, whether they’re eight or seventy-eight, because it shows a perspective we rarely have the fortune, let alone the opportunity, to read. Alex Gino clearly spent a lot of care writing their characters, and it felt very special to share that with them. I’m looking forward to their future books, and I have high expectations to see more books like Gino’s in the near future.
Hannah Levine is a senior at The University of Michigan majoring in Creative Writing and Literature and minoring in Digital Studies. She grew up in Oakland County, Michigan and loved every second of it, although she would never pass up a trip to travel and see the world. Hannah is most proud of the moment she met J.K. Rowling and didn’t break into tears until after getting Rowling’s autograph. She is least proud of the time she walked past Mitch Albom at Campus Martius and was too nervous to say hi. You can check out more of Hannah’s random thoughts on Twitter at @hannah_levine or on her blog, Just Hannah dot Rose.