“Alone at home, twelve-year-old Grayson Sender glows, immersed in beautiful thoughts and dreams. But at school, Grayson grasps at shadows, determined to fly under the radar. Because Grayson has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: “he” is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender’s body.
The weight of this secret is crushing, but leaving it behind would mean facing ridicule, scorn, and rejection. Despite these dangers, Grayson’s true self itches to break free. Strengthened by an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher who gives her a chance to step into the spotlight, Grayson might finally have the tools to let her inner light shine.
Debut author Ami Polonsky’s moving, beautifully-written novel shines with the strength of a young person’s spirit and the enduring power of acceptance.” ~Goodreads
Published: November 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
Length: 250 pages
Audience: Ages 10 & up; Grades 5 & up
Genre: Realistic Fiction; GLBTQ fiction; Young Adult; Middle Grades; Family; Contemporary
Gracefully Grayson (November 2014) interrupted my regularly scheduled reading. I had heard a bit about this book but it was my sister who went to the author’s book signing and immediately called me after she devoured this beautiful story. She raved about it and bought a copy for my 12-year old, so I did what I had to do. I picked up a copy at the library and put my other reading to the side.
Grayson’s story tore at my heartstrings and I held my breath for most of it. I knew what was going to happen to this 12-year old boy who felt like a girl since he was very little. I knew he would be bullied, misunderstood and teased. But I also knew that someone would understand. Someone would accept him and be by his side no matter what. That’s what made this story so special.
“I know it may feel like there are people who are against you, but I want you to remember that most people in the world are good. Look for the people who extend a hand to you. And when they do, take it.”
Just writing that quote makes my chest ache and I applaud Polonsky for writing such an important book geared toward the middle school audience. Not just for younger readers, but adults, parents and teachers can take away so much from this story. Without giving anything away, I also liked how Polonsky ended it. Totally open-ended without wrapping the story up neatly.
One of my goals for 2015 is to read more middle school books. I feel the audience for these types of books can be easily lost or forgotten. It’s that awkward time when things can get very out of control and it’s up to us adults as educators, parents, mentors and librarians to acknowledge diverse, rich literature.