Book Review: Gracefully Grayson

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Grayson is a sensitive kid, orphaned as a baby and living with his aunt, uncle and their two children. Grayson is an artist. He loves thrift stores. He experiences his world vividly. He has undiscovered talents. He is kind.

But he is not who he is. Grayson is not a little boy, even though he was born one and is known as one.

I adored Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky (you should check out her blog). This book is so gently told that one’s love for Grayson just swells. I want to give her a hug and make everything better.

A few weeks ago, Stacey Ann Chin tweeted this:

Well, it’s not a movie, but Disney-Hyperion did well with this book. It is middle-grade and a quick and easy read. The dialogue is genuine and the characters are tangible. Just a group of regular people, navigating their way through some challenges, one that happens to be the issue of transgender children.

This is NOT a political book. This is a story that is readable by all kids, and even teenagers and parents. It is not complicated. It is not a debate. In fact, at its core is a young child getting to know himself, and not a political battle. No mention is made of the idea of a sex-change, because twelve-year old Grayson is not thinking about that. No. Grayson is thinking about beautiful dresses, and the princess she wants to be. She is lonely, and dreams about having a friend to shop and giggle with… just like any other girl her age. I really appreciated that point-of-view.

I also thought that they bullying aspect was done well. It was hard to read about Grayson being bullied, and about her guardians not always standing up for her as they should, but it was also good to see that there were people who supported her and befriended her. People who were wonderful and accepting and really the kind of people I hope my kids will one day be and/or befriend.

The Greek Mythology included in the book was so fitting and I enjoyed it, although my own knowledge of mythology is lacking.

I have been trying to think back to when I first learned about transgender individuals. I don’t know how old I was. I wonder if the learning experience was positive or negative? I wonder if whoever told me about it did so with love and not ridicule. But I can’t remember, and I so hope that children would be taught about gender differences in a spirit of acceptance. I do think that books like these can lead the way.

“White and black. Light and dark. And me, in the middle of it all. Gray. There’s nothing else for me to do but walk through these column of dark and light, so I do.”

Simply put, Gracefully Grayson is a gentle little book the tiptoes into your heart, and there it stays. Read it!

I received and eARC of this book via NetGalley and Disney Hyperion. This has not biased my review.

Reviewing “Ebola” – and can we just admit that we don’t have a handle on this?

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I read Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus by David Quammen. There is hardly a more current book on the matter and I am getting so many questions from friends and family that I figured I might as well inform myself a little more.

In 1976 a deadly virus emerged from the Congo forest. As swiftly as it came, it disappeared, leaving no trace. Over the four decades since, Ebola has emerged sporadically, each time to devastating effect. It can kill up to 90 percent of its victims. In between these outbreaks, it is untraceable, hiding deep in the jungle. The search is on to find Ebola’s elusive host animal. And until we find it, Ebola will continue to strike.

If you’ve been keeping up to date with the literature (or you’re a student or professional in any of the medical sciences) you might not learn too much that you did not already know.

“The current scientific understanding of ebolaviruses constitutes pinpricks of lights against a dark background.”

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Ten Places Books Make Me Wanderlust For

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I realise that is the most awkward sentence but… YOLO. Today with Top Ten Tuesday we discuss places books have  made us want to visit, whether fictional or real. I LOVE this topic! I definitely have the travel bug and I once did a list of books that feature travel in some way. I can’t visit all the places on this list, but that doesn’t mean I don’t travel there in my dreams!

1. Hogwarts

(Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling)

This will forever and always be #1 on my list (the rest of the list is in no particular order). I so want to be in that old castle, eat in the magnificent dining hall, go through the massive library. Please please please can it exist for realsies.

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Book Review: Confessions by Kanae Minato [J-horror]

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Her pupils killed her daughter. Now, she will have her revenge.

I have a lot of feelings about this book, so I apologise in advance for a rambling review. The first feeling is one of regret: not that I regret reading it, not at ALL; but regret that I did not love it as much as I had intended.

The other feelings are harder to name, so let me start off with some pointers: I love reading books set in different countries. I love learning about different cultures through books, although I am aware that books may offer only one viewpoint or exaggerated ones. Continue reading

Ten Books That Were Hard To Read

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Today with Top Ten Tuesdays we discuss books that were hard to read, for whatever the reason. I also just want to add that I suggested this topic so yay! But admittedly, BookRiot did it first. Heh. Anyway. I’m focusing on books that were hard to read due to subject matter, not due to style or difficulty grading.

1. Coconut by Kopano Matlwa

This book, set in South Africa, follows two seemingly different young women: one wealthy, new money, removed from her culture and floating along, wondering about her roots; the other working herself out of poverty, doing her best to rid her of the dregs of her culture. This book was hard to read for me because I have friends like both these girls, and I realise that there is so much in their cultures that I can never try to understand, and I was unsure what I could DO. It is a beautiful book, though.

coconut quote Continue reading

Book Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

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 About a year ago, I read about Ruby Bridges, the first African-American child to attend an all-white elementary school in the Southern United States. There is a movie about her, which I couldn’t source, but I remember thinking what a fantastic story it would be to read.

Recently, I had the opportunity to read just such a story, except this one is set in a high school, and is fictional (but historically accurate).

Lies We Tell Ourselves is the story of ten black students who are the first to attend a top-notch all-white school in Virginia. It starts on their first day at the new school, being taunted and spat at and not at all very well-protected by their police escort. Continue reading

Discussing The Giver’s Relevance in GIFs

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South African schools don’t really study The Giver by Lois Lowry as prescribed reading, so I finally read it last weekend. I had been putting it off for years but it is such a quick and easy read that I could read it in an afternoon.

Guys, I had so many thoughts about it afterwards. On GoodReads I gave it a pretty high rating, BECAUSE THERE WAS NO “QUESTION-MARK” OPTION! I have never felt so conflicted about a book before. Okay, maybe once before, in Lord of the Flies, after that whole thing with the rock happened. That was unnecessary.

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