“George” by Alex Gino— Be Who You Are


Gino, Alex. “George”, Scholastic Press, 2015.

Be Who You Are

Amos Lassen

George has a secret and he knows that when people look at him, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. (Sorry about the pronouns). George thinks that his secret will stay with him forever until his teacher at school announces that the class path that year is to “Charlotte’s Web” and George really wants the part of Charlotte. His/her teacher says that George cannot try out for the part because she is a boy. This pushes George and best friend, Kelly to formulate a plan so that George can play Charlotte and so everyone will know who she is.

What a wonderful surprise this is and written especially for middle school students. It is a delightful read with a strong message and it is just beautifully told with a lot of heart. George stole my heart and I am sure that others will also have stolen hearts while reading this.

“George” does things realistically as it looks at the issues that transgender youth face. George shows kids that being who you are and sharing your identity is possible and it can bring only good.
George’s transition between George and Melissa is heartwarming and wonderfully written about. The narrative brings about all kind of responses and everyone gets a chance to have their say.

As I sat down to write this I thought back to when I was in middle school. There were no transgender kinds there (or so we thought). To me that is the most fascinating thing about this whole subject. Up until just a few years ago the transgender child was not something we talked about except perhaps in whispers. We suddenly see acceptance of all kinds of children unless you are a fundamental Christian. The world is so much better informed that ever and now we are getting the stories that I wish we had been getting for the last hundred years.

What is it about George that makes him/her such a special kid? When he was home alone he would look in the mirror and see himself as Melissa but once his mother and brother were home he was George again. While George has no doubt she’s a girl, her family relates to her as they always have: as a boy. George hopes that if she can get the part of Charlotte, her mom will finally see her as a girl and be able to come to terms with the fact that George is transgender. George tries very hard to get the rest of the world to accept her as she is. There are children who already have a sense of their gender identity as early as three years old and what has been absent from children’s literature has been positive trans characters. In this book author Alex Gino has successfully conquered dealing with the pronouns (as you can see, I have not been so lucky).

This is so much more than an LGBTQ coming-out story, however. Now that we are becoming more and more aware of the trans community, that might change soon. George even tells us that in the last few years, gays and lesbians have achieved a certain amount of visibility and acceptance, while the trans* community is still far behind and by and large ignored and misunderstood. largely ignored and misunderstood. George’s mother even says that she can deal with having a gay child, she simply can’t accept her as “that kind of gay.” George’s coming out is a process that she must repeat until she is properly recognized. We feel the pain but we also know that tomorrow is going be better than today and so on.

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