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Rick by Alex Gino is a standalone companion piece to George. Rick is the best friend of Jeff, the boy who teased Melissa (and got punched in the stomach for it). Two years on and now heading to middle school, Rick is having second and third thoughts about being friends with Jeff.
Jeff hasn't improved. If anything, he's gotten worse. He's become obsessed with girls but remains as misogynistic and homophobic as ever. Rick, meanwhile, has come to realize he has no interest in anyone.
Rick and Melissa end up in homeroom together and strike up a friendship. She encourages him to join the LGBTQIAP+ club. Doing so means making excuses to get away from Jeff.
Having the characters as middle schoolers now — even young ones (as sixth grade is still elementary school for our school district) is a huge improvement. The issues are grayer. Characters take sides and argue the nuances of their personal experiences. Adults listen to the children and even apologize when they're wrong or their information is outdated. Basically, Rick addresses all the things I took issue with when I read George.