Both Can Be True
by Machias, Jules






Daniel and Ash cross paths when a pomeranian is about to be euthanized; the sensitive Dan rescues the dog and Ash offers to help on a day when they are female-presenting. As the friendship grows, Ash feels less and less able to be their full self - sometimes male and sometimes female - in front of Dan without knowing that both people find themselves constantly at war with their non-conforming identities.





Ash struggles to decide which bathroom to use at their new school-not a simple decision for a gender-fluid middle-schooler, even with the Rainbow Alliance community having Ash's back. Daniel is a big-hearted kennel volunteer who spontaneously rescues Chewbarka, an older dog about to be euthanized. Told in chapters alternating between these two seventh-graders' perspectives, Machias' debut follows Ash and Daniel as they share the secret of Chewbarka's rescue, stumble through romantic feelings for one another, and figure out who they want to be. Ash and Daniel are layered characters, written with compassion and courage, and ultimately this is a story about claiming your own identity in the face of opposition and rejection. While there are a few missed moments of calling out transphobia and allowing Ash to come out on their own terms, those are balanced by the ownership both Ash and Daniel take of their own narratives. Both Can Be True begins with two near-strangers trying to save a dog and ends with them saving themselves-and each other. Grades 4-7. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.





Debut author Machias' novel explores genderfluidity and gender nonconformity as elements of navigating middle school. Told in two alternating narrative voices, the story follows Ash and Daniel, a pair of Ohio seventh graders who are on a shared mission to rescue an old dog the world doesn't seem to have room for, a not-so-subtle metaphor highlighting the vulnerabilities faced by all abandoned souls. Throughout their growing kinship, Ash and Daniel struggle with the divergent expectations of those around them: Ash with shifting gender presentations and Daniel with his emotionality and sensitivity. Entering a new school and feeling pressured to pick and disclose a single gender, Ash's conflicts begin with trying to decide whether to use the boys', girls', or gender-neutral bathroom. The school's diverse Rainbow Alliance is a source of support, but Ash's parents remain split by more than divorce, with a supportive mom and a dad who tries but fails to understand genderfluidity. Daniel, who has a talent for photography, is a passionate animal lover who volunteers at a local kennel and initially believes Ash is a girl. Ash's synesthesia amplifies the tension as Ash and Daniel discover a mutual romantic interest. The novel grapples with the impact of society's overly simplistic messages, but the characterizations at times lack depth, and there are missed opportunities to explore the subtleties of relationships. Main characters are White. An optimistic journey of self-acceptance. (Fiction. 10-13) Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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