I picked up Gracefully Grayson last year once we started to up our game with our LGBTQ+ Book Club. I figured at some point that the day would come when we wanted a trangender representative book – although that day has come and gone, we didn’t read Gracefully Grayson, so i picked it up myself.
The story follows Grayson, who knows inside that ‘he’ is a girl (for the sake of this blog post, i’m going to be referring to Grayson as ‘he’, as he did not transition during the novel and did not discuss other pronouns to use in the novel). Grayson lives with his aunt and uncle and two cousins, and has somewhat gotten over the death of his parents years prior to the story. He auditions as the female lead in the school musical to express himself as who he truly is. The novel follows the implications of that decision as Grayson tries to overcome the bullying and other aspects of his teenage life.
I really liked the gender representation in this story, and how well it was portrayed and handled by Ami. I’ve read some books about trans characters and didn’t enjoy them a whole lot because i found them somewhat offensive? However, this one was really great. She also included some support for Grayson in the form of his very lovely uncle (we love a strong family member) and some friends from the theatre.
However, the story was based around the bullying Grayson experienced due to him being in the school musical as a female character. Sadly, i can imagine this would happen in most high schools in this situation, so it felt very realistic. The story was told with a lot of dignity and i really loved that about it.
There were a few issues that i had with it, that could just be me wanting a little more from the story than i got. For example, there’s a girl that Grayson becomes friends with at the beginning of the story, and that seems to completely tail off after a situation between them. There’s hardly any mention of her after that and that really felt unrealistic to me of a teenage friendship.
Also, for me, there were too many characters that were incredibly similar to remember who they were or what they did. There are constantly character names being thrown at you, and it just frustrated me a little when i couldn’t remember if that person was nice or not. I really did like some of the characters, such as Grayson’s aunt and uncle and also his friend Paige, her mum was also excellent. But a little more explanation would have been useful.
The writing was great for a debut novel, the story was interesting and it has some great topics to discuss among younger teens. I think although this book wasn’t aimed at me to love, i enjoyed it and know how it’s extremely important. Many people would benefit from picking this up!