Polonsky’s Gracefully Grayson is an equally heart wrenching and heart warming story about gender. What would you do if you felt like you were born in the wrong body?

Grayson has it pretty rough. His parents died so he lives with his aunt and uncle. They’re not so bad but it’s his older cousin who really sucks. School is tough because everyone’s a jerk (middle school, am I right?) but he has a teacher who is nice. And this girl who’s sort of his friend for a little bit.

But actually, Grayson isn’t a he at all. She’s a her.

Not that Grayson can tell anyone that or act on it. She’s in a position where it would make life much trickier if she told anyone. She did sorta reveal that they preferred girl’s clothing and it cost her the one friend she did have.

Then, she joins theater. She finds good, true friends. And that nice teacher gives Grayson a role in the play as the female lead, and Grayson’s world explodes.

Now, I’ve never struggled with my gender identity. But Polonsky is such a talented writer that I could feel all of Grayson’s pain and hurt and it made me want to cry for her. The emotional depths the book reaches into, told all from Grayson’s perspective so it’s intimate and personal. But never flashy, just a real person dealing with real things. I was impressed.

And then to know that this story is fiction, but it’s a real thing for tons of people, makes me want to give everyone a hug and then try to make the world a better place.

Which may have been the point of the book. Or maybe it was just for visibility’s sake, I’ll admit this was my first novel with a transgender protagonist. But whatever the reason for Polonsky’s work, I’m thankful for it.

In addition to treating this situation with the kindness and respect it deserves, Polonsky also showed us how to act. For instance, I shouldn’t assume what pronouns a person wants me to use. Not that I would ever say something intentionally hurtful, but this book showed how a couple of ways words can unintentionally hurt someone.

Moral of the story: this book wasn’t flowery or episodic, but it was still beautiful and powerful. You should read it.