Source: Received for review (thank you!) ❤
Note: Grayson referred to himself/herself as a “he” for the majority of this book, so that is the pronoun I will be using in this review.
This book made me cry rainbow tears. It’s a fantastic book about the issues LGBTQ+ people face, and it’s truthful and raw.
Grayson is just twelve years old, but he’s already starting to feel the oppression from his family, friends, and classmates. He’s already a loner, and has been ever since his best friend, Emma, moved to Florida years ago. What I like about this book is that it hits the nail on the head. It’s really intended as a Middle-Grade Realistic Fiction book, but it doesn’t sugarcoat anything for younger readers. Nor is it assumed that twelve-year-olds are somehow sweeter and nicer than sixteen-year-olds; Grayson faces the same challenges that one would imagine a teenager revealing he is transgender would face.
His classmates all gave very realistic reactions, as did his teenage cousin, Jack, and the rest of his family. Not all of them hate him for being transgender, and not all of the people who hate him respond in the same way. There were both sides of the argument here, and Grayson was caught in the middle. He responds as any twelve-year-old would do: he gets scared.
The reactions each person gave turned into mini-arcs, and I loved ALL of them, especially Jack’s. Jack is a teenager. He’s in seventh grade (er… correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t you supposed to be twelve in seventh grade?) and just starting to cope with problems of his own. So when his little cousin sort-of-kind-of-maybe reveals that he’s transgender, Jack starts to throw him out of the “people I love category.” I loved the realistic way the word “gay” was used to describe Grayson. I’m not saying that it’s the right word–the right word to describe him would be transgender–but the way Jack and several other characters throughout the novel called Grayson “gay” just showed the misnomers and little respect we have for LGBTQ+ people in our community. I am lucky enough to attend a high school where we are encouraged to support and embrace LGBTQ+ people, but no matter how much education some people receive, THEY JUST DON’T GET IT. (I’m looking at you, Steven Moffat!)
Amelia was a… a… *insert strong swear word here*. At the beginning of the school year, Grayson makes friends with a girl named Amelia. And I can’t tell you what happens next, but I CAN tell you I just wanted to strangle her for the majority of the book.
A play is used, but in a very non-cheesy way. You know how some books use plays as major parts of their plots? Yeah, Gracefully Grayson is one of them. But it was just AMAZING. The cast of members in the play came to represent the wide range of reactions Grayson gets. And Paige, just AJSHFJWFHDWIUHA you’re the best. Also, I wanted more of Finn, the play director and teacher who helps Grayson. Not in the story, persay–it was pretty much perfect the way it was–but maybe a novella or short story about what happens to Finn? Pretty please?? *puppy dog eyes*
There are no plot twists, but CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT keeps you reading. Honestly, Ami, you were BORN to write this novel. It’s not like Fangirl or Since You’ve Been Gone, in which you don’t know the ending, and that keeps you reading, really. It’s more YOU NEED TO KNOW that Grayson is okay and that he can be a she and be accepted and that Jack and Amelia are going to stop being awful to him/her. All the character development was so beautiful, and I swear EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER had a little bit all to themselves. Excuse me while I go sob in a corner for a little while.
I loved the part Grayson’s parents played in the book. Although Grayson’s parents died in a car crash when he was little, Grayson still wonders about them often. He wants to know what it would have been like to have a mother and father, and if they would be different from his aunt and uncle, who raised him. He wants to know if they would accept him for who he is, a boy who is really a girl. I have seen so many YA novels where the protagonist’s parents are no longer around (or worse: when they are still around, in the same house), and they don’t devote a single line to them. But although Grayson can’t remember his parents, he has his mother’s artwork, pictures, and stuffed animals. And they play this beautiful part in his realization of who she really is, and… I can’t *wails*
OVERALL: *sniffles* Overall, this book was the epitome of perfection in a YA/MG novel. I am not a transgender person myself, and so I don’t know if this is a completely accurate representation, but I loved it.
5/5 Wagging Tails