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Infinite Country by Patricia Engel | Thoughts

   Published : 2021   ||    Format : print   ||    Location : Colombia ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆   What was it about the country that kept everyone hostage to its fantasy? The previous month, on its own soil, an American man went to his job at a plant and gunned down fourteen coworkers, and last spring alone there were four different school shootings. A nation at war with itself, yet people still spoke of it as some kind of paradise.. Thoughts : Infinite Country follows two characters - young Talia, who at the beginning of this book, escapes a girl’s reform school in North Colombia so that she can make her previously booked flight to the US. Before she can do that, she needs to travel many miles to reach her father and get her ticket to the rest of her family. As we follow Talia’s treacherous journey south, we learn about how she ended up in the reform school in the first place and why half her family resides in the US. Infinite Country tells the story of her family through the other protagonist, El

George by Alex Gino | Thoughts

         Published: 2015   ||   Format: ebook   ||   Location: US

One line review: When Melissa, a transgender girl, shares her desire to be Charlotte in the upcoming school play, she realizes that it's not just the school teacher but the whole world that has a hard time seeing her as the girl she is.

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George stopped. It was such a short, little question, but she couldn't make her mouth form the sounds.

"Mom, what if I'm a girl?"


Melissa is a transgender girl who simply wants the people around her to stop seeing her as a boy. But this is easier said than done, considering she has been working up the courage to let her mom know about it but has not been able to talk about it. When her school starts auditions for the play Charlotte's Web, Melissa wants to be Charlotte. But the school policies are clear - only those assigned girls at birth can audition for Charlotte's role. 

Before I go further into this review, I want to mention something about the title. George is Melissa's birth name. I found it extremely odd that the title of the book is George and not Melissa. It sort of makes sense in a way that Melissa is still discovering her identity through the book (also why she is referred to as George in much of the book) but I personally still struggled with the title being George. When you start the book, the name feels okay but when you turn the last page, it feels impossible to call the book or the character as George. The author, Alex Gino, explains at the end of the book that editorial reasons had a part in the naming of the book and confirmed that they would probably name it something else if they were naming the book right now. Something to keep in mind if you choose to read this book.

On to my thoughts about the book...

I LOVED this book. 

Her self-discovery, her struggles with her classmates, how she tries to step up for herself, how she reconnects with the people in her life, this is all beautiful. I loved that the author doesn't try to explain things at all. There is no need to explain or justify one's gender and that is the tone throughout. 

Melissa and her classmates are in the still-innocent and open-minded fourth grade class. They call out things as they see it but also are willing to see beyond their worldview. That does not make Melissa's experience any easier. I appreciated that the author showed how some misunderstood Melissa's gender identity due to their stereotypical definitions of gender and sexuality. 

Whether or not Melissa gets to play Charlotte, you'll have to find out for yourself. But it's really her journey through fourth grade and her navigation of her relationships with her mother, her brother, and her best friend that's the highlight of this book. I found George to be a very fast read and a very engrossing one as well.

Being banned: Of course, some people don't want their children reading about a transgender child. Both my kids already understand that people are of different complexions. Gender may be a little out there for them but the older one does occasionally say how pink is for girls (ugh thank you modern marketing) and I have to keep reminding her that anyone can like pink. She needs to see and read more books like George already (in picture and chapter books). A lot of people today have a hard time understanding gender because they need to first accept that what they learned growing up in wrong or is limited. I am still learning today but I wouldn't even be halfway here if not for the books we read. George is one of the best books I've read that demystifies gender without trying too hard.  

If you follow along with Banned Books Week, are you reading anything for this year?