Gracefully Grayson, by Ami Polonsky
Published by Hyperion in 2014.
Grayson Sender is a girl trapped in a boy’s body. Entering 6th grade, Grayson has never felt like he belonged. Living with has Aunt and Uncle after his parents died when he was in preschool, Grayson has struggled.
Everything changes after he makes a friend with a new girl named Amelia. Grayson starts visiting a thrift shop with her. This small positive change sparks confidence in Grayson and more positive changes, and Grayson goes out for the school play. This is where things get interesting. After all his thoughts about not belonging, and wishing he was a girl, he asks to audition for the female lead. He completes his audition and wows the directors.
Over spring break the directors pick parts, and Grayson’s aunt and uncle get a phone call. If he still wants the part, he can have it.
This story of a transgender middle school tugs at the emotional heartstrings. Fans of Wonder will love it. This story adds nuance to the lgbt conversation that our country is going through. This story is realisitic, and readers will understand Grayson and the story. In addition to navigating the dramas of the middle school social scene, there are loyal friends, and kids who struggle to understand Grayson.
Sometimes people get focused on the biological aspects of the transgender conversation. This story focuses on the emotional aspect and reminds readers to have empathy for Grayson.
“Well, I think to be brave, you have to be scared at the same time. To be brave means there’s something important you have to do and you’re scared, but you do it anyway.” (p 234)
“An old acting teacher of mine in college used to say that ‘risk taking is free.’ He was so wrong, it’s not free. You took a risk, and now I’m sure you’re contending with everything in its wake. Risk taking is not free, but I can assure you, it’s worth it.” (p.239)