Alex Gino

Scholastic Press, 2020

Plot Summary

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 Melissa, 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.


  • School Library Journal (Feb. 1, 2020): “An enlightening and important novel about a young person’s experience with asexuality. A required purchase for middle grade collections.” Starred review.

  • Booklist (Feb. 1, 2020): “Gino handles the answers deftly and manages their material about children’s identities beautifully. Like [Melissa] (2015), this is an important, innovative, well-plotted book that invites a large readership.” Starred review.

  • Kirkus (Dec. 8, 2019): “Gino seamlessly introduces language to describe a variety of sexualities and gender identities through the perspective of Rick, who is learning many of the words for the first time A game-changing ace.” Starred review.

  • Publishers Weekly (Feb. 20, 2020): “In this standalone companion to Gino’s [Melissa], 11-year-old Rick grapples with his identity while navigating shifting relationships and learning about allyship. ... readers are introduced to a wide range of identities and pronouns.” Starred review.

  • AudioFile (Apr. 2020): “ a much-needed story that will speak to a wide variety of young listeners.”

Awards N/A Lists

Kirkus Best Middle Grade Books of the Year, 2020

University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education Best Books for Young Readers, 2020

Response to Challenges

Lincoln Parish Library (Ruston, LA) removed Alex Gino’s Rick and Melissa (then titled George), followed by a longer list of LGBTQ titles, from shelves in response to a series of patron complaints. The titles were made available only by adult request. The complaints, which were identically worded, stated that LGBTQ materials “are unacceptable for viewing by children without their parents’ consent and input” and that displaying them “does not reflect the values of our community,” and referenced an upcoming election which included a measure to renew the property tax that provides most of the library’s budget. Board of Control members stated that they didn’t “want censorship,” but they felt that moving the books to restricted shelving wasn an appropriate compromise. Library Director Vivian McCain said, “We’re here to serve everybody equally, no matter who they are… This goes against every grain in my body as a public librarian”t (Ruston Daily Leader) The property tax renewal measure failed (Lincoln Parish News Online), the books were returned to their original shelves at the Board’s next meeting (Adventures in Censorship), and the Board accepted McCain’s retirement (Lincoln Parish News Online).


Updated 13 June 2022




Book Resume created by Virginia Library Association and PDSAL