This middle grade novel follows Grayson’s in sixth grade at Porter School. He is a quiet boy who doesn’t fit in and doesn’t do any activity after school. He lives with his aunt and uncle and cousins and barely remembers his parents who died in a car crash years before.
The story opens with Grayson drawing secret princesses in his notebook in Humanities class. The princesses, along with his ability to imagine himself looking different are a secret he guards close to his heart.
Two things happen to upset the quiet, safe existence that Grayson lives at Porter School in Chicago. The first is that he meets Amelia on the bus home. She is the first friend he’s made in years. The second thing is that Mr. Finn announces that they will produce a play called Persephone and tryouts are open to everyone. Grayson decides to try out, though he’s sure that all the parts will go to the older students.
At the try out Grayson decides to try out for the lead role, the part of Persephone herself. When he is given the role it sends ripples out through his world to change him and the people around him.
I asked to read this book because it is about a young transgendered person. With more and more children declaring themselves transgendered at ever younger ages I was very curious as to how Ami was going to tackle the issue. What she does is is come at Grayson’s identity with a subtlety and care that never lets him be anything other than a healthy, well rounded character. This is not a story about a transgendered kid. This is Grayson’s story told with humour and insight.
I recommend this book to people who like a good story. It is middle grade, but I enjoyed it as an adult and I’m sure it has a wide range of interest. This is not a book to be relegated to the “gender sensitivity” book shelf. It should be read and enjoyed by anyone.