Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

This book broke my heart, and mended it back together. I may have teared up. That’s entirely possible. And that would have been okay. Cuz jeepers, what a book this was.

Grayson is a 12 year old who lives two lives – the one in public, a shy and timid boy, and the one she really is, the one when she’s home alone and can be a girl. And in this way, she lives. Until she auditions for Persephone in a school play, auditions for a girl part, and gets it. And rocks it.

This book has amazing character development, an amazing plot rife with social battles and at-home issues and bullying and transgender rights, and just everything. After she gets the part, it’s a long struggle between then and the play. But the way it’s done is amazing. I always recommend it to all friends looking for LGBT+ reads.

I think what I really like is not only the writing style and the plot and characterization, is how it’s middle grade so it’s written for and about tweens in a way that’s awesome. I would say the content is appropriate for sixth or fifth grade plus. It might be a nice introduction to transgender issues at an easy level, or at least awareness to what it is. I highly recommend.

Luna by Julie Anne Peters

I liked this book. Although, my family might not have enjoyed my reading of it, as I am the occasional loud or expressive reader. This book a girl’s struggle with her brother being transgender, going by Luna and dressing in dresses and heels. Although I did like this book, I had a bit of a hard time seeing who this book was supposed to be about, or what the major plot was. Since the book is entirely through Regan, the sister’s, eyes.

What was nice about this, however, was how it depicted transphobia in various communities, and the struggle for families to accept a person’s change in gender. Sadly, I could not like Regan that much. I felt she was on the selfish and uncaring side, however I was at the age she is depicted already involved in the LGBT+ community, so I learned quickly how to act and that everyone is accepted, as long as their not mean spirited.

I guess I was expecting slightly more, but this would be a good jump start into YA LGBT+ fiction, for those who don’t have their footing yet. This book has some content more suited for teens, like past suicidal thoughts/intents, transphobia, and I think some transphobic slurs. In the next couple of weeks, I’ll try to upload more reviews of LGBT fiction.

Geography Club by Brent Hartinger

I had learned about this book on Goodreads and then immediately wanted to read it. Sadly, for the longest time I couldn’t find this book in my local library. But then one day, when I was in the library looking for whatever I was looking for (I have what I call, a selective memory where I can’t choose what I remember) and suddenly, the last name Hartinger stuck out in my mind. And then I found this book! I thought it was fate or book destiny that lead me too this book I had wanted to read for months.

Then I started the book.

This book follows Russel in his conservative high school where he’s the only gay kid, but then finds out he isn’t and then he and the other gay/lesbian/bi kids form a club called the Geography Club. Doesn’t sound too bad, right?

I had a few issues with the writing style. It was simpler and used, in my opinion, too many exclamation points and the foreshadowing was terrible. And since it was written in a simple, easy to read style, it was shocking whenever bigger swears or more inappropriate matter was discussed. Also many parts of this seemed too coincidental. That kind of annoyed me.

This book made me laugh, made me nearly cry (something that’s rather hard to explain in a car ride with one’s parents), and ultimately in the end, broke my heart. There were good things in this book, and I will forever remember it.

To Be Perfectly Honest by Sonya Sones

This book is a book my friend made me read. And I really enjoyed it. This book is a book in verse, which when executed nicely can be beautiful. And this book was beautiful.

This book is about Colette, daughter of a famous movie star and an addicted liar. She can rarely tell the truth, and does it to escape her mother’s huge shadow. But Colette says she does it since it’s the most fun she can have. Then her mom makes her cancel her plans for the summer so she and her little brother can go to a small town in California for the filming of a movie her mom is in. Colette had plans to go to Paris, but is forced to cancel. Colette is bored with the small town, then she meets Connor. He’s a little bit older, rides a motorcycle, and to Colette, is the best thing in the town. But is Connor really who he seems?

This book is best for 12/13+. It has swearing, and some things almost happen between Connor and Colette. But this book is very good.

Doormat by Kelly McWilliams

I went to the library over the weekend and my friend got this book. Since she was at my house, I decided to read it. At first, my thoughts were along the line of ‘Oh, this is just another sappy girly book’. So I started reading this and actually really liked it. It is about a topic that is realistic, which is teen pregnancy. In this book Jaime’s best friend, Melissa, tells her she thinks she’s pregnant. Of course, Jaime helps but the thanks she gets is Melissa yelling at her. A few major problems are that Melissa is 14 and that she won’t tell her parents. This is kind of like the best friend’s point of view of teen pregnancy.

Since this was the first book I have read on this topic, the theme didn’t feel tired or repetitive to me. It might though if you are a person who reads a lot of books like that. A thing I find great is how this author is 15 years old, and this is her first published book. This means she can really relate when she writes books about teens. I know this book was quick and a little rushed, but it was her first book and effective by drawing the reader’s attention. Another thing I like is how the author nails two important topics: teen pregnancy and doormat syndrome. It talks about the latter of the two in a discreet manner that is still effective.

This book has nothing too bad in it, so I guess kids in sixth grade up would be able to read it. Although, I think that people near age 14 would like it and relate to it more.

The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky

This book was beautiful, eloquent, and wonderful with an open ending that made me think and consider what might have happened. This book’s writing is beautiful and I was hooked by the first sentence. It left me wondering. I got this book at the library today and it’s already finished, 4 hours later. This book was shot (140 pages), but did not feel brief. It was not lacking in parts.

This book is about a class of 11 girls in Sydney, Australia in the year 1968. In the book they have a teacher who’s different from the old, stuffy teacher’s at the fancy school they go to. Their teacher takes them on trips to a close by park where they write poetry or learn from the man that works there, Morgan. They all think their teacher, Miss Renshaw loves him. One day, Morgan and Miss Renshaw take the 11 girls to a cave where Aboriginals supposedly painted on the cave walls. Miss Renshaw, like all the other times they go to the park to see Morgan, tells them not to tell anyone. They girls don’t like it in the cave, so they while Morgan and Miss Renshaw are still in there. They wait on the beach, but they don’t come out. They wait for a while before searching in the park and heading back to school.

The teacher’s find out that Miss Renshaw is missing, but the girls don’t tell the specifics, since they promised not to. They are wracked with guilt and don’t know what to do. Then One person tells. This story deals with guilt, with secrets. With what something like this does to a class of 11 girls around 10 years old. With what happens after.

I honestly really liked this book. I thought it was beautiful. This book is recommended for ages 12+, and I think it’d be good for ages 11-14. It was a very good book though.

Orchards by Holly Thompson

This book was sad. It was about guilt and grief. About a hard subject. About how the mean girls at school feel when the girl they said some thoughtless things to, kills herself.

This book is about a cliquey group of friends, but mostly about Kana, a half-Japanese, half-Jewish American girl who after that event happens, gets sent to work on her grandmother’s Mikan orchard. The girl who committed suicide was Ruth, a girl who’s bipolar. The boy she was with was helping her since his sister has it also. On Kana’s family orchard, hard work distracts her from what happened. But she still thinks about it, and often directs her thoughts to Ruth. This book is very sad.I nearly cried during parts of it. This book is written in free verse, which makes this a not-that-hard book to read.

This book is beautifully written. It hits hard on a sad topic. The only thing is, it’s really sad. I would say 12/13+.