It is never easy writing fiction based on sensitive topics that polarise people’s opinions in real life. There are just so many elements to take into consideration. One is the fear of adding ambiguity to an already misunderstood subject and another is to end up dictating to the reader expected ethical and moral behaviours instead of allowing them to struggle, think, pose questions and come up with solutions based on their own perspective of the scenario in hand.
The situation is further complicated when a particular work of writing is aimed at young readers addressing what many may consider ill-advised issues better left alone, which means that these subjects are less likely to have ever been discussed with parents, peers and educators regardless of whether the young reader is aware of them or not. So, a thorny question here would be: how does one present such work which, regardless of message, steers clear from off-putting, moralistic preaching as well as removes the stigma associated with airing such topics out in the open which will bridge the way for constructive discourse and ultimately more social awareness of pressing topics.
Ami Polonsky’ s main character, Grayson, in her recent novel ‘Gracefully Grayson’ (out November 4) is a lonely, confused sixth-grader who lives with uncle Evan (dad’s brother), and his wife Sally, cousin Jack, and brother Brett. Grayson’s parents are dead. As life-altering an experience such as this is to contend with for any child, Grayson’s life is further complicated by a secret that consumes this child’s everyday life, dominating all thoughts and crippling any ability to fit in with classmates at school or even communicating with the once-friendly cousin, Jack, at home.
The secret? Although born a boy, Grayson feels trapped in a body he does not want. With daydreams of how life as a girl could be, he is ridden by both happiness at the prospect that his dream may one day become reality and an acute feeling of dread that he will be ridiculed and judged. Events at home and a major one at school instigate a series of actions that will change not only Grayson’s life forever but also the lives of all those near and dear as they are forced to deal with the very taboo, very misunderstood subject of Gender Dysphoria.
Ami Polonsky proves she is a worthy writer who has done her research well. I can find no more accurate, consummate adjective than ‘graceful’ when I tell people about this touching, beautifully written little book. A novel brimming with characters that are not only believable and well rounded yet are continuously growing and evolving. Polonsky manages to deal with all her characters with sensitivity and wisdom and when harsh judgments and stereotyping unavoidably break through to the surface she is sure to avoid sensationalism.
A book of heroes.
Expected publication: November 4, 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
Check out Ami Polonsky's website HERE