I don’t normally recommend books about elementary school kids to teens, but this is an exception. Especially a book about a hot topic in the news: transgender rights. See Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s recent speech here. From the speech, here's a quote that gets me in the feels:
“Let me also speak directly to the transgender community itself. Some of you have lived freely for decades. Others of you are still wondering how you can possibly live the lives you were born to lead. But no matter how isolated or scared you may feel today, the Department of Justice and the entire Obama Administration wants you to know that we see you; we stand with you; and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward. Please know that history is on your side. This country was founded on a promise of equal rights for all, and we have always managed to move closer to that promise, little by little, one day at a time. It may not be easy – but we’ll get there together.” Attorney General, Loretta Lynch
I think of the main character of the novel, George, when I see the Attorney General's speech. George is a sweet, sensitive fourth-grader with a secret. She's a girl. She's got a boy's name, and a boy's body, but George has identified as a girl for as long as she can remember. When her teacher refuses to let George audition for the role of Charlotte in the school production of "Charlotte's Web," George and her best friend, Kelly, figure out a way to get the right girl up there on stage. Along the way, George finds the courage to share her secret with her older brother, her mother, and, eventually, the whole wide world. George is a beautiful, thoughtful book about a transgender girl's triumph to be who she is, and to allow the world to see her as she sees herself: as a girl named Melissa.
I hope Alex Gino writes sequels about Melissa in middle school, high school, college, and beyond! Highly recommended.