Both Can Be True by Jules Machias

Published by Quill Tree Books

Both Can Be True: Machias, Jules: 9780063053892: Amazon.com: Books

Summary:  Ash is starting at a new school after a bullying incident over their gender.  Daniel is tired of hiding the fact that he feels things deeply and cries easily.  The two of them bond over their shared love of a dog that Daniel is secretly trying to rescue.  When they meet, Ash is dressing and acting more like a girl, and a budding romance soon develops.  But, as has happened before, Ash begins to feel more like a boy, and has to decide how much to reveal to Daniel.  Both have to learn to stand up to parents and other kids who have certain expectations for them, and to learn that, even though each of them possesses seemingly contradictory parts of their personalities, both can be true.  368 pages; grades 5-8.

Pros:  Ash and Daniel are two well-developed characters with the daunting tasks of taking on gender norms and toxic masculinity in middle school.  Readers will be rooting for both of them as they gradually come to accept who they are and learn to speak up for what they need from those around them.  Their unconventional romance (which remains somewhat ambiguous to the end) is sweet and based on true friendship and caring about one another.

Cons:  The men, especially the dads, were pretty terrible throughout the book.  Daniel’s dad gets a bit of redemption at the end, and Ash’s mom is able to explain some of her dad’s clueless behavior, but it would have been nice to have some more nuanced portrayals.

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