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George

George by Alex Gino
on August 25th 2015
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Family, GLBT, Realistic Fiction
Pages: 195

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Reaction Upon Reading: I wish this was something I could read to my class, without them reacting negatively. It has such a beautiful message.


“She’s always going on about how we’re not supposed to let people’s expectations limit our choices.”


Synopsis:

BE WHO YOU ARE.

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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“My point is, it takes a special person to cry over a book. It shows compassion as well as imagination.”


Likes:

  • This story is so beautiful. I don’t even know where to begin with explaining all of the things I adored. It is one of those books you want to put a nice bow on and give to everyone.
  • The book starts with George coming home from school and retrieving her hidden magazines from her closet. She locks herself in the bathroom to avoid getting caught looking at them, and unlike her brother assumes, they aren’t nude magazines. They are girly magazines. Why is this a big deal? George was born a boy.
    • Boom! What a great way to set up this book.
  • This book really made me think! 
    • So much so, that I talked to my friends and boyfriend a lot about the role that gender plays in our society. I started taking note of gender neutral bathrooms and how flawed some of our systems are for people like George. 
  • George’s brother.
    • He made my heart melt. I think about  my brother’s own reaction to something like this would be and I hope he would have been equally supportive and kind. I can honestly predict that my mother would react the same way as George’s, which helps me so that it is more out of fear for you child than dislike or discomfort. We live in such a cruel world, where being different is viewed so negatively. 
  • I love that the author used the name George with the pronoun her. This seems so obvious, but to those that aren’t aware of the use of the correct pronouns, it is a simple and powerful teaching tool.

Dislikes:

  • It was really short, which normally I would love…but I felt like some aspects of the story were rushed and I would have liked to see them drawn out and developed a bit more.
    • The relationship between George and her mum versus George and her brother.
    • Kelly and the Zoo trip.
    • What happens next?

“She looked in the mirror and gasped. Melissa gasped back at her. For a long time, she stood there, just blinking. George smiled, and Melissa smiled too.”


Reactions, Ramblings and Questions:

  • George is in 4th grade.
    • At first I thought this was great, really powerful that George is 10 years old when she is experiencing all of the emotional, physical and mental affects of being transgender.
    • There were times when I felt like the age didn’t match the experiences. George seemed so naive at times for 10 and then Kelly seemed so much older than ten, especially being left a lot of the time on her own by her father. 
  • As a teacher it is interesting to read chapter 2. George is stuck in a school system that is extremely gender based. She is told by the teacher she will turn into a fine young man and given the boys bathroom pass to clear herself up after crying over Charlotte’s death. – I find it interesting the students refer to her as girly but the adults are unaware. It really makes me question how much I take note of this in my own classroom. It is not something I have ever experience as a teacher, although I do know a few friends who have students who have begun their transition.
  • George wants to play Charlotte and do the character justice – I like the way this book brings to light gender roles without bashing people for being ignorant, it brings the issue to light in a way that makes you stop and think.
  • The teachers reaction made George feel stupid.
    • This was so heartbreaking! God I hope I have never done that to a child. 
  • His mothers reaction was unacceptable in my opinion, it’s okay to worry or feel confused and scared for your child, but how dare you put them down or make them feel like wanting to wear woman’s clothes is something to be ashamed of. We need to have a real cultural shift on how we view the transgender community
    • As I stated before, this book has opened up a lot of discussion about gender neutral toys, non gendered bathrooms, social norms and expectations we follow without ever questioning. 
  • George’s brothers reaction was everything a sibling going through this could hope for. Kelly is also being super supportive, as long as those close to you have your back I feel like that is the best starting point for anyone like George.

“George stopped. It was such a short, little question, but she couldn’t make her mouth form the sounds.
Mom, what if I’m a girl?


Overall Thoughts:

I think this is a very simple and powerful book that everyone should read.

There is no bias or propaganda, Alex Gino is not trying to make you feel a certain way or change your viewpoint. He is simply telling the story of young girl who was biologically born a boy. We feel George’s internal struggle and every frustration and obstacle she has to face in her day to day life. She is on a journey, that is going to last a lifetime. We are given such a small glimpse of her life and that in itself is what made this book an emotionally compelling read.

This book covers such important themes, that I am pleased are being brought to light in such positive ways. Reading this story with its powerful use of George’s name and the pronoun She unearths discussion and issues that we need to be addressing. The ‘act’ of being transgender is not new. Caitlin Jenner did not begin this ‘movement’, but it is becoming more and more accepted in society and discussed openly…which is such a beautiful thing!

I struggle to think about those people who were transgender 10 years ago, 30 years ago, etc…Society is so unforgiving. People have such strong and intense views about the trans community and I find it heartbreaking to read and see such hateful things about people who do not have a choice! That for me is one of the more important messages in this book. A 10 year old boy does not wake up one day and decide he wants to wear dresses. He is born that way. George was born a she! 

This is a book that should be in every school library and read to every class! This teaches acceptance, love, being true to who you are, bullying and the affect this has on others. I adored this book. Do not be put of by the fact that it is a middle grade story. This book is all heart and made for all ages!


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What did you think about this book?

Leave a comment below. Lets talk about it!

Rating Report
Plot
four-half-stars
Characters
four-stars
Writing
four-half-stars
Pacing
four-stars
Cover
five-stars
Overall: four-stars

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Series: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on February 21st 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 359
Format: E-Book
Goodreads
four-half-stars

A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be. - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Ari...

The unfiltered thoughts, feelings, wonderings and ramblings as I read ‘Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe’


This is a beautiful coming of age story that follows Dante and Aristotle, two friends on the path of discovery who they really are.


  • How amazing is this cover?
  • I love an underdog story and Aristotle sounds like an underdog
    • I think this is of his own choosing though, but never the less I am rooting for him
  • Enter Dante
  • I love that Dante is obsessed with his parents, how many 15 year old boys would ever admit this or feel this way about their parents
    • My brother is 15 and he just hangs out in his room and grunting is his form of communication
  • The relationship between Dante and his father actually had me laughing out loud. He called him a wise ass and then sat in his chair, brilliant!
  • Dante comes across like an old soul, while Aristotle seems to have lost all faith in the world and is happy to just be invisible and alone, or so he wants us to think
  • Okay seriously Dante is funny, like laugh out loud funny
  • Insrutable
    • Even I needed to look this one up, if I had been patient I would have got to the page where it was defined

      ‘Boys die of boredom while reading poetry’

  • Dante has TBR desk!
    • I need one of these
    • No wait, I lie. It would just become this messy ever growing pile 
  • I need a word journal
    • I want a little book I can write words I find when reading and sentences that stand out
    • I encourage my students to keep one of these, yet I don’t keep one myself, terribly modelling!
    • I am going to get one this week
  • Oh Dante is getting cuter and cuter
    • I hope when I have kids, their friends bring over gift for me…in the form of book mwahahahaha
  • I wonder how it would feel to be Aristotle. His friend has come over and won his dad over receiving 2 smiles. He has made more of connection with his father in the 2 minutes he has met him that what Aristotle leads us believes to be their relationship is
  • Is this a LGBT book?
    • I am getting the vibes it is, I have not even read the synopsis. I just judged it on cover alone. Naughty! Naughty! 

      ‘I knew that he would never grow up and say stupid things like, a girl is like a tree’

  • I like the idea of adopting other cultures. Imagine a world where we take the best part of each culture and don’t use just one culture to define our identify, but we use a bunch to define who we are a positive citizens
  • Oh what a life you could lead if you had one parent as your complete and utter ally
    • Dante your dad is the best! 
  • a 15 year old boy to care that deeply for an animal is amazing. Some would say it was just a bird! We need more Dante’s in the world

    ‘I felt alone, not in a bad way. I really liked being alone’

  • Dante is able to see right through Ari’s facade, I like that
  • Ari seems content to be sad and lonely, even though he claims not to be sad all the time. Yet his is jealous of Dante’s self assured attitude
  • I wonder if Ari’s brother would accept Dante
    • I hope so
    • Ooooh and his family…I am getting nervous 
  • I am 8 years older than my sister and 10 years older then my brother, I could never look at them and think that they were born a “little too late”

    ‘When do we start feeling like the world belongs to us?’

  • Someday…
  • I wonder why Ari’s brother is in prison – it must be bad if no one talks about it
  • Dante is a giant marshmallow
  • I like the dialogue, it sounds like good hearty banter
  • There is a lot of swearing. I was hoping I could recommend this one for my school library…nope

    ‘I wondered what that was like, to hold someone’s hand. I bet you could sometimes find all the mysteries of the universe in someone’s hand’

  • Why is Aristotle so dark and cruel inside? What has made him this way?
  • Oooooh Ileana you just showed so much kindness. I love people like you. Just because someone gives off an ‘I don’t care’ attitude doesn’t mean they don’t need peoples kindness and compassion from time to time
  • I love how it can go from silly banter to the deep inner thoughts of Ari. The way the story twists and turns is very fluid. Light moments bleed into the the darker ones.
  • Just googled the ‘Nighthawks’ by Edward Hooper painting
  • Ari why must you be so difficult? Dante is a friend, write him back!
  • Oh more paintings to google
  • There was no excitement for that kiss
  • I think that Gina might like him, or she knows he’s gay and is trying to let him see he isn’t alone, that he has a friend in her
  • Well that all happened very quickly – she kissed him, has a boyfriend, drops out of school, gets married because she is pregnant. Silly girl, I liked you!
  • The worlds most casual kisser…bah, if only – someone always catches feelings
  • I love Gina and Suzie, seriously such amazing friends
  • I want to drive to the desert and lay in the bed of a truck stargazing – add to bucket list
  • Ari, Ari, Ari – why do you fail to see how many people in your life love you?
  • Dante, I feel for you. Unrequited love is awful, but unrequited love with your best friend is the worst kind.

‘Another secret of the universe: Sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of nowhere’

  • Ari stop being a dickhead!
  • I feel like Ari’s relationship with his father has improved astronomically since the start of the book
  • Oh the feelings! Warm fuzzies
  • Now I am mad. I truly don’t understand why men/boys feel the need to beat up someone when they discover they are gay. I just don’t understand what their purpose is or what they are trying to gain from it. If you do this, you are a monster. It absolutely breaks my heart that people have to suffer such ignorance.
  • TEARS
  • Dante is always confessing secrets and is always sad after his revelations
  • Oooooooooh I could just gobble up this ending!

Gay 1

I had no idea when I originally picked this up that it was an LBGT book. I was pleasantly surprised. What a beautifully written well crafted story. Being a teacher, I kept thinking about how amazing this book would be to give to my students who are struggling with finding their own identity. It has such powerful messages of acceptance, love, forgiveness, diversity and honesty.

It is something I would definitely by for my classroom if my students were just a year or 2 older. Because it has quite a large amount of swearing and talks of masturbation, it would probably upset a few of my parents. Nevertheless it was written in a way that I couldn’t put it down. The chapters were nice and short, there was no part of the book that I felt was unessesary. Every aspect was crucial to the development of Aristole and Dante.

Lets be real, I could use an Aristotle and a Dante for a friend.

I laughed, I cried, I cheered, I gasped and I booed. Just brilliant!

Well played Benjamin Alire Sáenz.


“I renamed myself Ari.

If I switched the letter, my name was Air.

I thought it might be a great thing to be the air.

I could be something and nothing at the same time. I could be necessary and also invisible. Everyone would need me and no one would be able to see me.”


 

Side note: I just discovered there is going to be a sequel *runs around screaming*

four-half-stars
Rating Report
Plot
four-half-stars
Characters
five-stars
Writing
five-stars
Pacing
four-half-stars
Cover
five-stars
Overall: five-stars