Debut author Ami Polonsky has written a simple yet beautiful telling of a transgender boy, called Gracefully Grayson. Few books exist about transgenders, which definitely needs to change, and even fewer transgender books are set in middle school. Ami Polonsky wrote this book with a simplicity that anyone could read this. Middle schoolers and high schoolers could read this book, and both can get something amazing out of the story.
The main idea of the plot line in Gracefully Grayson reveals Grayson’s story with how he becomes more comfortable about the idea of telling his family and friends that he is a girl. Grayson was always quiet and wanted to stay out of the limelight because he feared people finding out about his secret. As the story continues, Grayson becomes riskier; he becomes more comfortable with people knowing.
Grayson was a great narrator. His thoughts are more thought out than a normal middle schooler’s would be, typically. I could relate to Grayson easily, even though I am not trans-gender nor had I gone through the events he had. His thoughts are thoughts that everyone has thought at some point in his or her life. Grayson thinks about his parents’ deaths, his move to Chicago from New York, and how society would view him.
Even though Grayson was a phenomenally written character, I always have a thing for the secondary characters. Grayson’s Uncle Evan gets a million years of applause. Uncle Evan goes against his own wife because he completely supports Grayson in everything he does. When Grayson’s Aunt Sally did not want him playing a part in the play (I won’t give it away because of its importance to the storyline.) Uncle Evan fought with her. He even helped Grayson memorize the lines everyday after school. Who does not want an uncle like that?
My least favorite character is not the bullies at school. It might make me a terrible person, but I just could not get to liking Aunt Sally. She went against everything Grayson wanted, and she thought for him, even when her thoughts went completely against Grayson’s. She would talk over him and not even consider what Uncle Evan was saying. While I did not like the bullies at school, because they are horrible people, Aunt Sally ground on my nerves.
Finally, I will talk about the wonderful cover. I must have a thing for yellow covers (like The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider) because I loved this cover. The t-shirts on the front show the subtle changes that Grayson goes through in the story. It begins with an obvious male t-shirt, to the slightly curved t-shirt, and ends with an obvious female t-shirt. The typography is amazing as well. I will admit that it did not mean much to me before I read the book, but after I read it and look at it now, it has its hints. The curvy “y” was a good, subtle touch.
Overall, Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky was a quick, but impacting, read that would be perfect to educate teen-agers and preteens about society. It would especially help to educate kids on how to react and how their reactions come across to others.
(NEWSPA White Ribbon Award 2015)