This book is just a soft and heartfelt delight!
I read George quite a few years ago (I am way overdue for a reread now) and while Melissa makes a cameo, Rick can stand on its own. It follows Rick as he starts off Middle School with a few trouble problems in his backpack: he’s tired of everyone teasing him about liking girls (or boys) because he…doesn’t. His best friend is acting increasingly more a bully which is confusing. And lastly Rick is aware he keeps saying nothing, doing nothing, keeping quiet and passive even though he’s having lots of feelings and struggles welling up in his chest.
So what is he going to do about it?
There are just so many elements to love!
I adored reading about Rick’s slow exploration into the school’s Rainbow Spectrum club, his fear of being seen, the closeted anxiety, the do-I-even-belong-here thoughts. When he finds the word “asexual”, his family’s first response is “well you’re too young to know!” which makes him feel small. The book explored both Rick’s doubt and also confidence as he realised he wasn’t straight and what that meant to him. And can we talk about how important it is to start talking to kids and tweens about the fact there are more options than just “straight”!? Because this saves so many feelings of confusion and brokenness as they grow up.
Family & Friendships
Rick also develops this epic and soft relationship with his grandpa and I loved how gentle and kind it was. So so positive. I was rooting for him to connect with Melissa and her friends, too, though Rick obviously has to work through the fact he’s friends with a bully first. (Also it was just glorious to see Melissa happy and glowing and living her best life!!)
It also unpacks how it feels to realise you’re in a toxic friendship, which is so relevant and important to point towards and deal with. People change, sometimes not for the better. Learning to stand up for yourself and your beliefs is HARD. I’m just so proud of Rick right now.
Basically this book is a pocketful of excellent and I highly recommend everything Alex Gino writes. The style is easy, engaging, and you just love watching Rick blossom into a person he can be proud of.
Thanks to Scholastic for the review copy! Rick by Alex Gino is out now.
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.
do you read much middle-grade? I’m always excited to find ace rep, so let me know if you have any recs!!