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Melissa by Alex Gino

--Staff Picks


Alex Gino
Published: 2015
Age Range: Children, middle grade, young adult
Genre: Children's novel, LGBTQ+ fiction
Awards: California Book Awards: Juvenile (Gold); Lambda Literary Award: LGBT Children's/Young Adult; Stonewall Book Award: Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children's Literature Award

Melissa by Alex Gino is a delightful story that highlights the importance of being yourself. The big, bright letters spelling “be who you are” on the back cover suggest it, but the story inside makes it clear. The titular protagonist is a young transgender girl who navigates her gender alongside interactions with family, her best friend, school, and schoolyard bullies. Things start to take an exciting turn for Melissa when she decides she wants to play Charlotte in her class’s production of Charlotte’s Web. Melissa faces adversity over the course of the book, but she also experiences crucial support from people around her.

Melissa is a children’s novel, and it is definitely a worthwhile journey for a younger reader who is on their own journey of discovering and becoming comfortable with who they are. It’s also a good story about self-expression and acceptance that will resonate with readers of all ages.