Gracefully Grayson

During LGBTQ week of my Diversity in Youth Literature course, I picked by Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky, which felt like a sister book to George and they were published pretty close together.

Gracefully Grayson followers Grayson, a sixth grader, who is trying to navigate gender identity while living with extended family and auditioning for the school play. Like George, the school play and the casting process turns out to be the catalyst for Grayson’s journey to accepting that they have always felt like a girl. Throughout the story, even though Grayson is addressed using male pronouns and called “son” so many times it made my head hurt, Grayson recognizes internally that they FEEL like a girl, but don’t come around right away to saying, “I am a girl.” So unlike George, the female pronoun usage and self-awareness isn’t there from the beginning, it’s more of a journey. Also, there is a terrible adult in the situation who does not support Grayson and honestly makes everything worse, so if you’re sensitive to that,  be prepared. Overall, this book was fine. I preferred George, definitely, and am curious as to WHY Polonsky wanted to be the one to tell this story,  but it wasn’t bad overall.

I think the story provides an interesting counterpoint to stories like George and I Am Jazz where the protagonists know and accept their gender dysphoria from a young age but Grayson struggles a bit more, not knowing the terminology almost, and I don’t think the word transgender is even used once in the book. Instead, people assume Grayson is gay, but Grayson doesn’t grapple with that, he grapples mostly with how he wants to dress and perform in the play. Overall, it’s a good book. It’s fine. It’s not that groundbreaking, to me, having read George already, and I think some nuance was lacking from this book, but I’m glad I read it.

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