“Tenderly and courageously told, Gracefully Grayson is a small miracle of a book. Its story is so compelling I found myself holding my breath as I read it and so intimate I felt as if what was happening to Grayson was happening to me. Thank you, Ami Polonsky, for creating this memorable character who will open hearts and minds and very possibly be the miracle that changes lives.”– James Howe, award-winning and best-selling author of The Misfits
Friday, 17 October 2014
Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky- Review and Interview!
This is my first author interview! (Exciting!)
Author : Ami Polonsky
Hardcover, 250 pages
Expected publication: November 4th 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
Genre : Middle grade fiction
Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky is the story of a boy who believes he is a girl. The book shows his transformation from a person who just pretended to be wearing beautiful skirts to a person who became the girl in those skirts.
I loved the book. The concept was so unique and showed in a very singular way. The story of self-discovery rings in every word. You immediately like Grayson. Even though his struggle is different than many others he is someone you can easily relate to. Everyone’s constantly trying to feel beautiful in their skin, trying to find a place in this world – and in that attempt facing the world that stands against them. The story will hold your heart close, taking you on Grayson’s journey, and finally making that journey your own. After completing this book, I feel I can no longer refer to Grayson as a ‘he’. He deserves to have the right tag given to him.
Things I liked-
Grayson- He is a character that is lovely to get to know. I liked being in his mind.
The message – The message that people can choose to be what they want to even if convention says otherwise.
Friendship – In spite of being ridiculed by some, there are few friends that stand up for Grayson. It was beautiful to witness that.
Teachers – We all have one teacher in our life who has changed the way we think, work or affected our lives. Finn, Grayson’s teacher is one of those special kinds of teacher who leave their impact lasting.
The writing-The writing is simple and fresh, not slow paced or clichéd.
Things I didn’t like-
Nothing to add here.
My rating – 5/5
Praise for Gracefully Grayson-
The book is to release this November 4.
Ami was kind enough to agree to an interview!
Interview with Ami Polonsky
Q1.Grayson. What inspired this creation?
Grayson was born out of the frustration I often felt when my son and daughter were very little. I was working hard to raise my children as open-minded, creative people, and much of this meant not placing them into society’s boxes of “how to be a boy” and “how to be a girl.” I found that although I, personally, could convey certain messages to my kids, these messages often fell flat because the outside world told them the opposite. I said they should wear what they liked, but the outside world said, “boys wear blue and girls wear pink.” I told them to play with what made them happy, but the outside world said, “boys like sports and girls like princesses.” It made me so mad. I began to wonder what a child’s experience would be like if they really, truly didn’t fit into society’s box of “female” or “male.” What unique challenges would they face? Most importantly, how would they remain true to themselves?
Q2.Your debut book is getting great response! How does that feel?
Thanks! It feels amazing. I think Gracefully Grayson is getting noticed because it’s a timely book, but I didn’t write it for that reason. I never set out to make a political statement, or even to write about a transgender character. I set out to tell a story about a girl hiding a giant secret and having the bravery to remain true to herself during an incredibly challenging time. That said, a coming of age story about a transgender character is long overdue, and I feel very honored that the response has been positive.
Q3.Tell us about Gracefully Grayson’s cover design. How did that come into being?
I wish I could say that I had something to do with it, but I didn’t. Whitney Manger, the designer at Hyperion, and Kristine Lombardi, the artist, are fully responsible for its awesomeness. The design is deceptively simple and it’s meant to match the spare writing in the book. I am in love with it.
Q4. What, in your opinion, is the hardest step in creating a story?
I struggle, personally, with plot. I love coming up with characters, and they come to me fairly easily. It’s the fact that those characters need to do things that constantly trips me up.
Q5. I read you are working on another middle grade book. Do you think you will give adult books a try too?
I’ve learned to never say never, but I don’t think so. The stories that seem to come to me are about kids making the transition into young adulthood. I may just be a twelve-year-old trapped in an adult body! If the right adult story came to me, though, I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to giving it a try.
Q6. Do you ever experience writer's block? What would be your advice to get over it.
I always hesitate to give writing advice because writing is very personal, and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. I’m happy to share what works for me, though. In the past several years, I’ve attempted to write four different books. I succeeded in writing two of them. What separates the two books that I wrote from the two books that I put aside is that in the former, I had a general idea of the plot line in mind before going in. With the latter, I had ideas about characters, but not plot. I never experienced writer’s block when writing the two books that worked, but I experienced intense writer’s block with the two that didn’t. For me, writer’s block means that something big isn’t working, but that’s definitely not the case with everyone. Much of writing seems to be about getting to know yourself and what works for you.
Q7. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Writing, for me, is all about tapping into my subconscious. I find that it’s important to know, more or less, what the outcome of a story is going to be and how a character might get to that endpoint but, beyond that, I let my subconscious do all the heavy lifting. Lately, accessing my subconscious mind has come through exercise and music. When I finished each chapter of my second book, I’d get on the elliptical, listen to music, and plot out the next chapter. I think that movement activated my mind, and the music helped me tap into emotion. I’d take notes as I visualized my characters doing whatever they were meant to be doing next, and then wait until the next morning to write that section.
Q8. Lastly, do you have a message for writers around the world who are hoping to publish their first book?
Every writer needs to have trusted readers to provide feedback on their works in progress. When selecting those readers, listen exclusively to your gut. Find great readers who you truly believe have your best interest in mind. When you’ve found them, listen to them 90% of the time. Try not to get defensive, no matter how strongly you feel about what you wrote. Reserve that other 10% for the bits and pieces that you can’t let go, but don’t surpass your 10%.
I’d also advise aspiring writers not to hold too tightly to their all-important ideas. The first book I tried to write (which then became the second book I tried to write, and now may be the third book I try to write) is the most personal and emotional for me because it’s based, more than my other books, in my own life experiences. I love the story that I’m trying to tell. I love it and I need it, because it’s the story of my childhood. But, twice already, I’ve had to let it go—something that I vowed I’d never, ever, ever do. Don’t be afraid to let your ideas go—even the huge ones that your entire sense of being is built upon. Put these ideas on the back burner until the time is right. Maybe you need more experience before you can write the story you were born to write. Maybe you’ll write it in thirty years. Trust yourself to be able to come up with lots and lots of good ideas in the meantime.
stalk follow Ami-
I truly loved the book. The book is getting the right recognition it deserves. I would read the story again and again for its beautiful writing.
Name a middle grade book you enjoyed reading.