Sixth-grader Grayson realizes a dream but attracts controversy by taking the role of the female lead in the school play.
When Grayson was younger, it was easier to look in the mirror and see “the long shining golden gown and the girl inside of it.” Now, in sixth grade, “[m]y imagination doesn’t work like it used to.” (The book’s first-person narration neatly avoids the problem of choosing gendered pronouns for Grayson, who is perceived as male by classmates but whose identity as female sharpens over the course of the novel.) The story takes time to get started: Grayson gains and then loses her first new friend in years; then Grayson’s grandmother dies; and then, about a quarter of the way in, the school-play plot that quickly becomes central begins. Grayson’s doodles of princesses and daydreams of skirts sometimes feel a clumsily obvious way to indicate that gender is the issue here. In fact, many characters feel more like stand-ins for certain ideas (Grayson’s aunt’s resistance to Grayson playing Persephone, Grayson’s younger cousin’s childlike insistence that “[i]t’s just a play”) than fully imagined people. Still, Grayson’s journey is portrayed with gentleness and respect, and readers will root for the show to go on.
A kind and earnest look at a young transgender adolescent’s experience. (Fiction. 10-14)