We have made a decision, here at The Read HQ, not to publish any reviews in the magazine. But occasionally a book we read will be so astounding that we’ll feel compelled to write about it here on the blog…
I have just read George by Alex Gino. A wonderful, touching, subtle and utterly magical book.
There is a lot being published at the moment looking at the theme of gender identity and honestly, I have to say it, in much on offer I find the story buried under the theme. As a reader (and an editor) I do admire books in which the theme is part of the story rather than dominating it.
In George Alex Gino has nailed it completely. A novel aimed at younger readers, the delight of the book is the subtle way in which the very central issue of the book is handled. George is a transgender girl who was assigned male at birth. She knows she should be a girl. When the school is looking for players to take part in a dramatisation of Charlotte’s Web, George wants to be Charlotte. That is the part that will allow her to tell everyone the truth about herself.
The delight of the book is the direct honesty of the story telling and the wonderful relationships that help George be the person she wants to be. George’s friend Kelly is a delight. Just the person we all want on our side no matter what is going down. There is a whimsy and lightness of touch too which I think puts Alex Gino up there with a writer like Louis Sachar.
This is a book that transcends issue and by doing so makes the importance of the theme of the book hit home to the reader. It is always better to entice and delight than harangue and preach. I feel so much better informed and so much more engaged with the issue of a transgender child now and I found it all out by reading a really wonderful novel.
I read that it took Alex Gino twelve years to write this book. I really hope that it won’t take that long for the next one.