My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group
Publication Date: November 4th, 2014
Point of View: 1st Person & Masculine
Recommended Age: 9+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, School, Contemporary, Gender Fluidity, Courage
Alone at home, twelve-year-old Grayson Sender glows, immersed in beautiful thoughts and dreams. But at school, Grayson grasps at shadows, determined to fly under the radar. Because Grayson has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: “he” is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender’s body.
The weight of this secret is crushing, but leaving it behind would mean facing ridicule, scorn, and rejection. Despite these dangers, Grayson’s true self itches to break free. Strengthened by an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher who gives her a chance to step into the spotlight, Grayson might finally have the tools to let her inner light shine.
Debut author Ami Polonsky’s moving, beautifully-written novel shines with the strength of a young person’s spirit and the enduring power of acceptance.
GRACEFULLY GRAYSON belongs to that particular category of books that make you both happy and sad.
Grayson is a boy. But he likes all things initially made for girls – dresses, skirts, bracelets, necklaces, hairclips, etc. This is a part of him that he feels he needs to keep secret, but he hates the secrecy, because it eats at his heart and soul.
So he decides to audition for the role of Persephone in the school play. But what if he gets the role? He will have to wear a dress… What will his aunt and uncle say? What will his classmates say? What will happen then?
Written in a simple but admirable language suited for young readers, GRACEFULLY GRAYSON explores themes such as gender fluidity, acceptance, belonging and courage. Part of me finds it slightly underwhelming that the author only mentions Grayson’s preference for girl clothing without expressly mentioning anything about gender fluidity, especially since this is a gender identity that young people should be aware exists and understand the meaning of.
But another part of me is perfectly at peace with Ami Polonsky not labelling Grayson in any LGBTQIA+ way, since Grayson himself does not exactly know why he likes girl clothing and mentally associates more with girls than boys.
In any case, this is a beautifully moving novel. It made me realize we should indeed publish more diverse stories for pre-teens. A little bit repetitive, but the lyrical writing was enough to lessen my notice of that.
I’m really happy I gave this book a chance, especially since I did not particularly enjoy this author’s new release THREADS, so I sure hoped she would redeem herself to me with this. And she did. Go Ami Polonsky! I’m curious to see what you will entice us with next.
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