Book review by
Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media
Rick Book Poster Image
Sixth-grader faces bullying bestie in sweet, queer story.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Various gender and sexuality terms -- transgender, asexual, aromantic, enby (nonbinary), etc. -- are introduced and defined.

Positive Messages

It's OK to identify outside the gender and sexuality binary; there are many ways to be a human. It's important to stand up for what's right. Your parents or siblings might not understand you all the time, so find friends and other adults who really get you.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Rick's been a follower, somewhat shy, and hasn't really thought about who he is. His best friend Jeff's bullying forces him to reconsider their friendship and who he wants to be. Rick is inspired to be better by his peers in the Rainbow Spectrum club, who are courageous, passionate, and great allies. Grandpa Ray is accepting and expresses feelings without shame. Rick, Jeff, and Grandpa Ray are White and cisgender, while there are several non-White secondary characters and those who identify as transgender, nonbinary, etc. Rick identifies as questioning but thinks he's probably asexual or aromantic.


Jeff's bullying includes name-calling, vandalizing the Rainbow Spectrum's posters with "dirty" drawings, and lighting one of the Spectrum's fliers on fire in a bathroom. There are references to several past fights Jeff started.


Jeff comments on girls' bodies and their attractiveness a handful of times. A few references to "liking" the opposite sex and descriptions of a couple holding hands.


"Jerk" and "freak" are used a few times.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rick is a stand-alone follow-up to Alex Gino's award-winning debut book George. Rick and his best friend Jeff start middle school together, but Rick is increasingly troubled by Jeff's bullying and homophobia. Rick finds refuge in his school's Rainbow Spectrum club, a group supporting LGBTQ students and their allies, but struggles in his desire to stand up to Jeff. Readers will become familiar with a number of gender and sexuality identity terms alongside Rick. Positive messages affirm characters' various and diverse identities, emphasize the importance of doing the right thing, and encourage kids to find friends and supporters who they can be authentic with. While primary characters are White and cisgender, secondary characters represent various skin colors and ethnicities, genders, and sexualities. Male-idenitified characters express emotions and cry. Violence is mild, including name-calling and vandalizing posters. "Jerk" and "freak" are the harshest language used. Brief comments on girl's bodies, references to "liking" girls or boys, and hand-holding make for a tame, though certainly not boring, read.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byhannah1991 February 11, 2021
This book taught me that there's much more to the LGBTQ community than just lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (as well as folks who don't... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byThalia Grace February 9, 2021

Super Sweet!

I only say 10 because I'm terrible at choosing ages. Seriously it's like well you're 9 in 4th grade but also in 3rd and I just suck at it.
That s... Continue reading

What's the story?

The title character in RICK has never really thought about who he wants to be, but when his family teases him about liking girls and his best friend, Jeff, says and does homophobic things, Rick finds it harder and harder to just let things happen. Rick begins attending meetings of the school's Rainbow Spectrum club and learns that he can be a part of making the school welcoming to everyone. On weekends, Rick hangs out with his Grandpa Ray and they bond as they work through a sci-fi series they both love. With the new perspectives from Rainbow Spectrum and with Grandpa Ray's support, Rick begins to explore his own sexuality as well as what kind of a person he wants to be. When Jeff crosses a line, will Rick be able to do the right thing?

Is it any good?

This is a heartfelt story about a relatable sixth grader-facing questions of identity and friendship. Rick's main character has always been a follower, but when faced with his best friend's bullying of others, Rick knows he can't just stand by and do nothing. As in real life, it takes time for Rick to figure out how to confront Jeff, and the courage he gains from new peers in his school's LGBTQA club feels natural and authentic. Rick's attempts at talking with his immediate family about his problems and his questions about sexuality may fall flat, but he finds a safe confessor in Grandpa Ray, and their relationship is really wonderful to watch as it unfolds. Preteen readers may not notice how Gino naturally weaves in language to describe various genders and sexualities of the different characters, but this tender story can certainly serve as an introduction for younger readers to various gender and sexual identities. With mild violence, tame language, and no sexy stuff beyond hand-holding, this is a safe and wholesome book for tweens of all ages. Highly recommend.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Rick's main character. How are the problems Rick is facing similar to any you have faced? How does Rick figure out what to do about Jeff? What are some ways you might deal with a friend who was being unkind or mean?

  • Rick thinks he may be asexual or aromantic, meaning he doesn't feel sexually or romantically attracted to anyone. What, if anything, had you heard of asexuality before reading this book? What were some other terms or words that were new to you? Why is knowing them important?

  • Talk about Rick's relationship with his Grandpa Ray -- what was surprising to you about it? How does it help Rick to have someone like Grandpa Ray in his life? Who can you go to for help and support when you're going through something rough?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love friendship and LGBTQ stories

Themes & Topics

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