Transgender Tuesday: Gracefully Grayson

Posted 4 November, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Transgender Tuesday: Gracefully GraysonGracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky
Published by Disney Electronic Content on November 4th 2014
Genres: Adolescence, Emotions & Feelings, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 256

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

What if who you are on the outside doesn't match who you are on the inside? Grayson Sender has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: "he" is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender's body. The weight of this secret is crushing, but sharing it would mean facing ridicule, scorn, rejection, or worse. Despite the risks, Grayson's true self itches to break free. Will new strength from an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher's wisdom be enough to help Grayson step into the spotlight she was born to inhabit? Debut author Ami Polonsky's moving, beautifully-written novel about identity, self-esteem, and friendship shines with the strength of a young person's spirit and the enduring power of acceptance

Aw, maaannnn y’all. It was possible that this book could go so wrong, but it ended up going so right. This is a beautifully written middle grade novel that really demonstrates the struggles and the agony that (I suspect) many transgender kids go through. It’s immensely readable and relatable even for those of us that are not a part of the transgender community. This is a story of bravery, family, and growing up. I read the whole thing in one sitting.

I felt like the adoptive aunt and uncle in the book reacted with a good juxtaposition of how a parent may react poorly to the ‘news’ that their child is transgender versus a ‘good’ reaction. The teacher was all wonderful reactions.

This novel could be great for teaching empathy and respect for all people and I would highly recommend it to parents of middle grade children. Other reviewers have criticized the lack of depth in Grayson’s transformation, it’s largely focused on being able to express himself by wearing female clothing, but I think this is all part and parcel of it being relatable to kids.

Look. This book is going to have a hard enough time getting into the hands of the kids who really need to read it – if Polonsky had gone whole hog and discussed sexuality and all the other issues related to being a trans person, I’m not sure she would have ever gotten it published for this age range. Add this to the list of books that I would love to see available and encouraged in schools, but in our current political climate – I am not optimistic.

The writing is beautiful, but not inaccessible to the age range it was written for. Definitely, definitely check this one out.

Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf has an eloquent and more in-depth review here. (Check that out too.)

So, Readers! Controversial question: Do you think you would let your kid (or hypothetical kid) read this book? Would you feel uncomfortable with it on a teaching syllabus? (No judgment, respectful dissent heartily invited.)


April @ The Steadfast Reader


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