Author: Darcey Rosenblatt
Published: August 22, 2017
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 14-23, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars
It’s 1982, and twelve-year-old Reza has no interest in joining Iran’s war effort. But in the wake of a tragedy and at his mother’s urging, he decides to enlist, assured by the authorities that he will achieve paradise should he die in service to his country.
War does not bring the glory the boys of Iran have been promised, and Reza soon finds himself held in a prisoner-of-war camp in Iraq, where the guards not only threaten violence—they act upon it.
Will Reza make it out alive? And if he does, will he even have a home to return to?
Lost Boys is based off the real-life Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. The specific year is 1982 and Reza is 12 years old and Iran sends their young boys off to war. If they die, then they will be considered a martyr and Reza’s mother is more than happy to see him off. Reza is conflicted to go but his best friend Ebi is very excited. In Iran they have no freedoms, they can’t even sing or let alone listen to music without punishment.
Reza finds out the grim reality of war and finds himself separated from Ebi and in a POW camp. The boys there are treated in a range of ways from friendly with a teacher whom Reza bonds with over their love of music to being treated terribly by some of the guards.
I liked Reza and was rooting for him the whole novel. I was hoping that he and Ebi would be reunited. Lost Boys gives you an idea of what life was like in an Iraq POW camp without being graphic. I enjoyed this quick and easy read as I saw Reza’s growth over his time at the camp, but the end of the novel left too many unanswered questions. The novel needed at least an epilogue or a follow up novel for the reader to get the whole story: When you become invested in characters, you need the whole story!
Despite the lack of conclusion, I would recommend the novel as it gives a US reader an experience of unfamiliar events at a time in the past with an unfamiliar country. And that has been the point of #Diverseathon2021: Diversifiying your reading this year by reading books with a certain type of character or places you might not normally read. And I would not have normally read Lost Boys.
**I am having a giveaway: A $20 e-gift card to the bookstore of your choice. All you have to do is read a book set in Iran and share what you thought about it on social media. **Be sure to tag me in some way so I see it!** Previous Diverseathon hosts are welcome to join in on this giveaway. This giveaway will last for the entire month of November with the winner being announced on my Instagram on December 1st: If you read fast then you still have time to get a book read and reviewed!
Author: Alex Gino
Published: April 21, 2020
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: October 28-29, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
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.
Rick is not a sequel to George/Melissa, but a companion novel that has the same set of kids, only now they are in middle school. Rick has been best friends with Jeff forever, despite Jeff being a bully to others. Now being in middle school they are starting to experience life changes and Rick comes across the Rainbow Spectrum Club which is where kids on every part of the spectrum of the LGBTQIAP+ scale can come together and be themselves without retaliation. This includes Melissa, who used to be known as George. Now being in middle school, Melissa is fully embracing who she is.
Rick, as well as the reader, lean about the various types of genders and identities that currently exist. These can be very fluid, which references the + in LGBTQIAP+. Rick starts to think about who he may actually be since he has never given much thought to it and his friendships in general.
This is another novel by Alex Gino that showcases how everyone can be who they are and who they will become. I enjoyed seeing the relationship between Rick and his grandfather. Rick learns and accepts his grandfather for who he actually is and how much they have in common. The author themself narrated Rick. Normally I am all for the author narrating their novel, but the narration did not really work for me with Gino’s voice.
Both George/Melissa and Rick are needed novels with the way our ever-changing world has become.
Rick is recommended![Top]
George (Now being published as Melissa)
Author: Alex Gino
Published: August 25, 2015
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: October 25-26, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.
George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy.
With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.
Forget what you personally believe about transgender people, we need more books like this! Whether this will be a book for a transgender child to read, this book can be for everyone as it shows how one person who feels they are very different from others can be their own person.
George is in 4th grade and though she physically looks like a boy, she knows in her heart that she is a girl. As the reader reads the novel, they see how George feels. She has not told anyone who she really is, including her family. Over the course of this short novel, George tells her best friend Kelly who she actually is and that she wants to be Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web in the school play and Kelly is all for that!
This is a novel of differences, acceptance, and coming together. This is a novel that shows how being different can make one person feel among other ‘normal’ people.
This is a novel written by trans author Alex Gino and the title was just changed from George to Melissa earlier this year. Here is a link that explains that change: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/87750-alex-gino-debuts-new-title-and-cover-for-groundbreaking-trans-novel.html This book is one of the most banned books for a variety of reasons and I found out about it during Banned Books Week this year and decided to read it for myself. Though I am not a parent, I did really enjoy this novel and feel it would be appropriate for middle grades kids.
Depending on the version you read, George/ Melissa is highly recommended![Top]