Author: Alex Gino
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: April 21, 2020
Page Length: 240
Age Range: Middle Grade
CAWPILE Rating: 7.71/10
Goodreads Synopsis: From the award-winning author of George, the story of a boy named Rick who needs to explore his own identity apart from his jerk of a best friend.
Rick’s never questioned much. He’s gone along with his best friend Jeff even when Jeff’s acted like a bully and a jerk. He’s let his father joke with him about which hot girls he might want to date even though that kind of talk always makes him uncomfortable. And he hasn’t given his own identity much thought, because everyone else around him seemed to have figured it out.
But now Rick’s gotten to middle school, and new doors are opening. One of them leads to the school’s Rainbow Spectrum club, where kids of many genders and identities congregate, including Melissa, the girl who sits in front of Rick in class and seems to have her life together. Rick wants his own life to be that … understood. Even if it means breaking some old friendships and making some new ones.
As they did in their groundbreaking novel George, in Rick, award-winning author Alex Gino explores what it means to search for your own place in the world … and all the steps you and the people around you need to take in order to get where you need to be.
Once I found out that Alex Gino was writing another book, I had to have it. I fell in love with George and, honestly, will automatically pick up anything else they write. This one, honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect other than Middle Grade and LGBTQIA+, nor did I care – I wanted to read it because of my love of George and they didn’t disappoint.
This story follows Rick and his exploration of himself. His family seems to be pretty open with the idea of Rick being attracted to either girls or boys, which is repeated frequently throughout the book. However, Rick doesn’t seem to be concerned with either sex when it comes to attraction, especially compared to others his age. That is one of the things explored in this book, whether or not Rick is a “late bloomer”, like his father says, or if there’s another explanation. It also explores the new inclusion of LGBTQIA+ club in Rick’s Middle School. We attend meetings along with Rick, where he and others (including the teacher) learn more about the LGBTQIA+ community. It is interesting how Alex tackles this subject. I love how they explain the community and different names/labels and how it fits that age range. I also enjoyed that they explore the idea that the adults don’t know EVERYTHING!
At first, I was constantly comparing this book to George – the characters, the atmosphere, the school. But It didn’t take me long to realize that I can’t do that. This is a completely different school, scenario, kid. Rick was a shy kid with only a couple of friends, but he starts questioning how good of a friend Jeff really is. The scenario that makes him question Jeff’s friendship was pretty realistic. One thing domino-ing into another, causing Rick to look at Jeff as a person.
This is a quick read and truly enjoyable. Although it didn’t beat out George for top spot, it was still an amazing read and one that anyone should give a read. The representation within this book is amazing (large range of LGBTQIA+ identities).