Gracefully Grayson, by Ami Polonsky (2014)

Genre: GLBTQ
Interest Level: 11-14
Gracefully GraysonIn this beautifully written middle school novel about gender identity and self-acceptance, we meet 12-year-old Grayson, who has a really big secret. On the outside, he is a boy; on the inside is a girl desperate to come out to the world. When no one is watching, Grayson holds up dresses and imagines the swish of the skirt while walking. Every day, he lives with the secret, using an oversized purple hoodie to hide the extra-long t-shirts he wishes were dresses over the skinny jeans he imagines are leggings. Polonsky does a masterful job of bringing this young person’s voice to life and give us an authentic sense of this dichotomous experience. Grayson’s personality slowly blossoms until he springs off the pages and you can imagine him in front of you, looking over the girls’ wear at the thrift store. Surrounding characters don’t get quite the same level of development: Grayson’s guardians, Uncle Evan and Aunt Sally, serve to provide contrasting reactions to Grayson’s deep desires, and two cousins remain largely flat. Grayson is an orphan who barely remembers his parents, but despite this they are pivotal to the story, which was a surprise to me. At school, Grayson faces bullies but finds a few allies, though we never learn much about their motivations, which I would like to see. Overall, this is a strong story about growth and courage by a character who happens to be transgendered, written for an audience that is unlikely to see much written on this topic. Watch for awards for this tenderly written story.
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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