Melissa

Alex Gino

Book - 2022

"When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she's not a boy. She knows she's a girl. George thinks she'll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte's Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can't even try out for the part ... because she's a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte -- but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all."--

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jFICTION/Gino Alex
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Subjects
Genres
Transgender fiction
Social problem fiction
Novels
Published
New York, New York : Scholastic Press 2022.
Language
English
Main Author
Alex Gino (author)
Edition
First edition
Item Description
"Previously published as George"--Dust jacket.
"Hey folks, just a reminder that I made a huge mistake in the title of my first book, GEORGE. That is a name my MC never wants to hear again. She is fictional and it's in the narrative for a reason, but the title could have been just about anything different. I'm sorry, Melissa."--Tweet from the author, @lxgino, December 2, 2018
Author requested publisher to change name of title in 2021, previously titled "George."
Physical Description
195 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9781338843408
9780545812542
Contents unavailable.
Review by New York Times Review

PREPARE YOURSELF, Alex Gino: You'll be receiving lots of feedback when readers discover your timely, touching novel. School librarians will run to you at conferences, thanking you for writing a story that speaks to students like George. Irate parents will leave one-star reviews on Amazon, claiming your book has an agenda. And there will be children - you know, the actual intended audience for "George" - who will send you an email, politely demanding a sequel. You can't blame them for asking. The memorable central character of "George" is unlike almost any protagonist out there - even if others in the story are stock characters of middle-grade books. (A harried single mom, a macho older brother, a sassy best girlfriend - archetypes, I hasten to add, I've relied on in my own novels.) But "George" stands out for one contemporary twist: a fourth-grade production of "Charlotte's Web" in which George dreams of playing Charlotte, the female spider, rather than Wilbur, the male pig. It's not for political reasons; Charlotte is simply the role to which George most relates. With refreshingly little fanfare, Gino uses the "herself" pronoun to describe how George sees, well, herself - despite a birth certificate that says otherwise. "George" may be the most right-now book imaginable. How do you talk to children about Caitlyn Jenner? Give them "George" (and watch "I Am Cait" together). Also, trust that when you tell a contemporary child that some people are born into a body they don't identify with, most will blink, say, "O.K., cool," and ask what's for dinner. Gino beautifully describes how George thinks about holding the ladder for her best friend, Kelly, after Kelly gets cast in the high-flying role George wants: She "would be Charlotte's Charlotte, deeply hidden in the shadows." Elsewhere, Gino uses escalating variations on an everyday word - "Oh," then "Ohhh," then "Ohhhhhhhhh" - to brilliantly depict the dawning way George's older brother reacts to learning that his little bro is actually his kid sis. These moments are drawn with elegant restraint, even if other aspects of the book - like how George's mom watches soap operas and George's brother refers to "dirty magazines" - feel dated. Using the theater as a backdrop, however, is both age-old and inspired. If outcasts escape into the theater in order to "be" other people, the opposite is also the case: Theater is the only place some kids can be themselves. The "understudy must go on" theme is deployed to lovely effect as George steps into the arachnid role she was born to play. Gino's choice of "Charlotte's Web" resonates for another reason: Anyone who thinks children won't believe that a boy knows he's really a girl need only pick up "Charlotte" to be reminded that a barnful of talking animals never confused anyone. After reading "George," I pulled out my own dog-eared edition of E.B. White's beloved novel and read this line: "Wilbur felt queer to be outside his fence, with nothing between him and the big world." It brought to mind the ending of "George": Kelly lets Melissa (George's name for herself) ransack her wardrobe to get dolled up for a girls' day on the town. But unlike Wilbur, Melissa is thrilled to venture outside her fence, where she feels like her truest self. TIM FEDERLE'S first novel for young adults, "The Great American Whatever," will be published in March.

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [September 6, 2015]
Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Ten-year-old George has a secret. Everyone thinks she is a boy, but inside she knows that she is really a girl named Melissa. When her fourth-grade class prepares to mount a dramatic production of Charlotte's Web, George knows that more than anything in the world, she wants to play the part of Charlotte. After all, who cares if she plays a girl's part? Hasn't her best friend Kelly told her that, in Shakespeare's time, men played all the parts, even those of girls and women? But things aren't that simple, not even when George summons the courage to dramatically show her single-parent mom the truth. Gino's debut novel is a sensitive, insightful portrayal of a transgender child coming to terms with gender identity. George is an appealing, thoroughly believable character, and her best friend Kelly adds humor and zest to this gentle story. Gino does an excellent job introducing factual information into the narrative without impinging upon the accessible and appealing story. Pair this important addition to the slender but growing body of transgender fiction with Ami Polonsky's Gracefully Grayson (2014).--Cart, Michael Copyright 2015 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-Before her mother and older brother Scott come home, George has a few, treasured moments to experience life as she's always wanted to live it. She looks in the mirror and calls herself Melissa, combs her hair over her forehead to mimic the appearance of bangs, and reads glossy magazines full of ads for lipstick, perfume, and tampons. Once her mom and brother come home, however, the magazines must go back to their secret hiding place. 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 secure the role of Charlotte in her class's upcoming production of Charlotte's Web, her mom will finally see her as a girl and be able to come to terms with the fact that George is transgender. With the help of her closest ally, Kelly, George attempts to get the rest of the world to accept her as she is. While children can have a sense of their gender identity as early as the age of three, children's literature is shockingly bereft of trans* protagonists, especially where middle grade literature is concerned. George offers more than the novelty of an LGBTQ coming-out story, however. Here, what is most remarkable is the use of pronouns: While the world interacts with George as if she is a boy, the narrator only refers to her with female pronouns, which gives her girl-ness a stronger sense of validation. In addition, George comments on the fact that, in past years, gays and lesbians have achieved a certain amount of visibility and acceptance, while the trans* community is still largely ignored and misunderstood. George's mother remarks that while she can handle having a gay child, she simply can't accept her as "that kind of gay." For George, as is the case for many LGBTQ youth, coming out is a process that she must repeat until she is properly recognized. There is pain in George, but not without the promise of a better tomorrow, even if tomorrow doesn't arrive as soon as it should. VERDICT A required purchase for any collection that serves a middle grade population.-Ingrid Abrams, Brooklyn Public Library, NY © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

George is, outwardly, a boy. But inside, she is a girl, and now that she is ten, that disconnect is becoming impossible to endure. She tries to tell her (single) mother, but Mom doesnt seem ready for that conversation. Desperate, George decides to try out for the part of Charlotte in the school production of Charlottes Web: maybe if Mom sees her playing a girls part, Mom will be able to see who she really is. There are setbacks along the way (the teacher refuses to let a boy audition for Charlotte; Mom discovers and confiscates Georges cache of girls magazines; bullies harass her), but with the help of a few supportive allies, particularly best friend Kelly, George prevails. By the last chapter, George has become Melissaall girl, at least for one perfect day on an outing with Kelly, and clearly a preview of what life has in store for her. George isnt without flaws: the mothers sudden about-face is too sudden, and author Gino can employ a heavy hand (Moms response to one of Georges early overtures: You will always be my little boy, and that will never change. Even when you grow up to be an old man, I will still love you as my son). But the heart of this novelfor slightly younger readers than Ami Polonskis similarly themed and plotted Gracefully Grayson (rev. 11/14)is Georges achingly poignant struggle to be herself, and that heart beats strong and true. martha v. parravano (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Melissa George reached the end of Charlottes' monologue and was ready for the dialogue with Wilbur that followed. But George didn't hear her cue. She opened her eyes. Ms. Udell was frowning, and a thick crease had formed across her forehead. "George, what was that?" she asked. "I . . ." started George, but there were no words to finish the sentence. "I . . ." "Was that supposed to be some kind of joke? Because it wasn't very funny." "It wasn't a joke. I want to be Charlotte." George's voice sounded much smaller now that she was speaking her own words. "You know I can't very well cast you as Charlotte. I have too many girls who want the part. Besides, imagine how confused people would be. Now, if you're interested in being Wilbur, that's a possibility. Or maybe Templeton -- he's a funny guy." "No, thanks. I just . . . I wanted . . ." Excerpted from Melissa (formerly Published As GEORGE) by Alex Gino All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.