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Books & Chocolate

I love to read just about anything, as long as it's fiction. I read for me - that means I read what I want, when I want. My reviews tend to mostly be based on how I'm able to personally connect with the story/characters. They are not intended to influence someone to read, or not read, a particular book. I always encourage people to take a chance and make up your own mind.

 

Oh, and I love chocolate.

Gracefully Grayson

Gracefully Grayson - Ami Polonsky

This is the first book I've read with a transgender character, so I don't have much to compare to. That said, I thought the book was very well done. Grayson is a 6th-grade boy who identifies as a girl on the inside. It's intended for younger readers, however, I think adults can also gain from reading it. 

 

One of the things that struck me throughout the story was how much this was on Grayson's mind. It was in every thought - from what clothes to wear, to what pen to use, to what bathroom to use, and ultimately to what role to audition for in the school play. It consumed Grayson's mind, and that's no way for anyone to live, especially a child. 

 

This book covered what I'm guessing are the high points of a child trying to emerge through a different gender - from bullying to lack of understanding in his family to support from some unexpected people. I loved the way Grayson's teacher Finn handled the situation, as well as the mother of one of the other children who befriends Grayson.

 

There is one thing that struck me about this book that I struggle with -- it seemed as though Grayson's primary way of identifying as a girl was based on liking princesses, wanting to dress in skirts/sparkly clothes, liking pink, wanting braided hair, etc. I don't personally know anyone who is transgender, and as I said above this is my first book on the subject, so maybe these things are the primary identifiers. If that's the case, then I wish our society could get to place to just let all that go. I mean, the only reasons dresses and princesses and sparkly things are associated with girls is because our society has decided that's the way it should be. I guess I feel that if we accept it's OK for girls to wear pants and play football and 'do anything a boy can do', then why don't we have the same expectations for boys? Why does someone have to feel incomplete or defective just because they like something that society has told them they shouldn't like? As Grayson's little cousin said, "Why does it matter?" If only we could all be as accepting as young children.

 

I feel as though people who identify with the opposite sex they were born to experience more conflict than just these things, but that's what this book focused on so that's what I had a reaction to. To me, boy and girl should simply refer to the physical body of a person. If you have certain parts, you're a girl. If you have the others, you're a boy. What you like and what you want to wear should not be defined by those labels.

 

This is a book I intend to have my 11-year-old read -- and discuss with her afterward.