When I see Banned Book Lists, I tend to take them as reading lists. Thus, George, a novel about a young boy trying to figure out how to tell her friend, her mother, her school, and herself that it is okay that though she was born as a boy, she is truly a girl and wants to be seen for who she is. Gino cleverly and appropriately uses pronouns to reveal how George has to live two lives. George talks about herself as “she”; others speak about her as “he.” I was also impressed by Gino’s attention to the reactions of those closest to her. Her teenage brother just sort of shrugs. Her friend takes time, educates herself, and the finds her way back to her as her biggest champion. Her mother urges her to take things “one step at a time.” Even the detail that George herself will only things up about being transgender once her brother teaches her (prior to him learning about her) how to clear a browser’s history.
I was also impressed that Gino chose to make George a 4th grader, prompting some initial reactions that she’s too young to make such claims about herself, something some readers might be thinking as well. I also think it’s logical to infer that Gino was writing for a 4th grade audience. Would I make it a read aloud? Or a class novel? My initial reaction is no, at least not at first. But if I needed to prompt a conversation? Maybe. I would definitely have a few copies available on my shelf.
This book first came to my attention because of this article (http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/09/who-should-decide-what-high-school-kids-read/379609/). Ever since I saw my first Banned Books display at a library, I’ve always been intrigued by what people say I can’t or shouldn’t read.
So when my Principal suggested I read a book with a student who was struggling with questions of sexual identity, this one came to mind. He read it (or said he did) much faster than me, so now I can look forward to talk with him about it.
There is much to admire about this much too long book. (It’s Danforth’s first book, so perhaps she just threw everything in there.) I most appreciated the nuanced characters. No one is completely good or evil or even just one-dimensional. People, including Cameron herself, are struggling with her sexual identity and even her Grandmother, who comes closest to being a stereotype, does something that surprised me.
I also loved the imagery of the dollhouse. And I love that Danforth and Camerson never really explained it; it’s just there.
I liked that it was set in Montana. I’ve never been there, and Danforth helped me see the place – again, without contributing to stereotypes.
Does the title have anything to do with Lauryn Hill’s use of the word ‘miseducation’? I don’t know; I’ve never listened to it. But my suspicion is that it does.
So is it great? No. Will I read something else by this author? Sure. Would I recommend it to students? Ones who have the maturity to handle the sexual situations, yes.