by Brie Spangler
Beast is about a fifteen year old boy named Dylan who is unusually large and hairy. His dad died, his mom is overbearing at times, and he has a lot of pent up anger because of how people treat him. His best friend JP uses him to beat people up, and that is his identity. One day he goes to get a football from the roof and he falls and breaks his leg. The doctor puts him into a support group after he discovers the fall might not have been an accident. In group, Dylan meets a girl named Jamie, and they fall for each other. Dylan then discovers a secret about Jamie that he didn’t anticipate, and he faces much internal and external conflict throughout the rest of the book.
What I liked about this book is that is is a story about diversity. I appreciate when authors put their diverse works out there, because there isn’t enough. I don’t want to say what was diverse about this story, but I will say that I was not anticipating it at all. If you read any other review, it will surely give it away, but I’d rather not.
What I didn’t like about this book was basically all of the characters, the cussing, the violence, and pretty much everything else. I thought it was going to be a fractured “Beauty and the Beast,” but I was wrong wrong wrong!
Book 27 of 40
If I Was Your Girl (audiobook)
by Meredith Russo
Amanda is an average teenage girl. She moves in with her dad after living with her mom since their divorce, so she has a little adapting to do. Amanda is also new to being female, having been born Andrew. She starts at a new school and quickly meets friends who are unaware of her transgender status. Several boys become aware of her beauty, and she starts dating a boy who loves her, and doesn’t want to know any of her secrets, so he doesn’t know about her being transgender. Amanda enjoys having friends and being able to be who she really is, until her past comes out.
What I liked about this book was the insight I as a reader was given into a world I cannot relate to and have no experience with. I am not transgender and I don’t have any trans friends. I worked briefly with a transgender woman in a school setting, and that is my limited knowledge, except when it comes to reading. I have no problems with people who identify differently than I do, but I think that reading helps to build understanding, which helps to break down ignorance and intolerance, so I am learning as I live, and hoping I can help my students also build understanding and compassion.
What I didn’t like about this book was that it really bothered me when Amanda left the homecoming dance and ran into a guy who attempted to assault her. I have never been sexually assaulted, but I have a very hard time reading about it, and this seemed particularly vicious.
Book 61 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
School is out! Woot woot! I blasted past my 40 book goal!
by Alex Gino
AR Level 5.0, 4 points
I was afraid to let my students read this book. I was afraid I’d get disgruntled parents or weirded out kids, because it is about a transgender girl and her being honest with her loved ones. I thought I’d have students who were less open-minded, who didn’t think George was normal, or who would talk badly about the book because of the topic. I am very happy to say (and I hope I’m not jinxing myself) that there has been nothing but positive feedback.
George follows a transgender girl named George who is not yet open with her mom, brother, or best friend Kelly, but she knows she is not really a boy, despite appearances and her genitalia (which is briefly mentioned in the book, just so you know). She wants desperately to play Charlotte in the school production of Charlotte’s Web, but the teacher won’t cast her, since she is not technically a girl. George and Kelly find a way to sidestep this minor problem so George can help her mom (and her classmates) identify her as a girl. Kelly even finds a way for George to be Melissa for a day.
What I liked about this book… where do I begin? First of all, it is probably the first of it’s kind, and it’s been a long time coming. I know not everyone is accepting of the LGBT community, but the fact is, there have always been and will always be lesbians, gays, and transpeople, so we as teachers have to teach tolerance and respect. I tell my students they don’t have to like everyone, but they have to be respectful. Hopefully, George will open my students’ eyes to the fact that this is a reality and a struggle that people have to go through. We can either be accepting and tolerant, or we can make their lives harder. I hope they choose wisely.
What I didn’t like about this book was Kelly. She was pretty annoying and unrealistic. I’m not sure most people would immediately embrace their best friend being transgender without blinking. I know I would at least take time to take it in, but Kelly didn’t even blink. She must be a better person than I am. I also didn’t like how aware they were for fourth graders. I know fourth graders who play with Barbies and eat their boogers. I think this would have been more realistic if they were sixth or seventh graders. Just a few years makes all the difference in perspective.
I would absolutely recommend this book, but I would also let readers know it is a sensitive topic, and they do mention balls and his private parts floating between his legs in the water. That may require some level of maturity.
Book 30 of 40 (year 2)