Middle school is hard. It’s even harder when you feel like you’re trapped in the wrong body. Grayson Sender is different from the other boys in his middle school class. In fact, he would prefer not to be a boy at all, but he doesn’t know how to even begin facing that terrible truth.
Hiding away in his bedroom, trying on girls’ clothing at his favorite thrift store, laying low in school, the secret begins to settle like a stone in his stomach. As 6th grade rolls on, Grayson can’t take hiding anymore, and he takes steps to claim his true gender and identity.
In a move that rattles the whole school, Grayson tries out and wins the lead in the school play…a role that would usually be played by a girl. Soon, Grayson is making friends and feeling more alive and fulfilled than ever before. Unfortunately, the rest of the school doesn’t understand, and Grayson and the director of the play are soon in the middle of a heated controversy.
Grayson has to navigate negativity at school and at home (where the aunt who raises him feels deeply uncomfortable with his transformation), and the pressure is on for him to quit the play and let a girl have his part instead. With so many opinions swirling around him, how is Grayson going to be able to take the stage? Can he still be true to himself (or herself, as the case is)? Will he still be safe?
Gracefully Grayson is a lovely and important book for older readers to explore. Not everybody is made the same, and not everybody identifies with the gender that they were assigned at birth. Grayson is a highly likable and sympathetic narrator, and watching him blossom as he transitions from “him” to “her” is satisfying and realistic.
256 pages 978-1484723654 Ages 13 and up
Recommended by Molly Crumbley, Librarian, Maryland, USA
Grayson Sender 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 sharing it would mean facing ridicule, scorn, rejection, or worse. Despite the risks, Grayson's true self itches to break free. Will new strength from an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher's wisdom be enough to help Grayson step into the spotlight she was born to inhabit?
Debut author Ami Polonsky's moving, beautifully-written novel about identity, self-esteem, and friendship shines with the strength of a young person's spirit and the enduring power of acceptance. --from the publisher