Both Sides Now

Dial. Aug. 2021. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593322819.
Gr 9 Up–For high school senior Finch Kelly, winning a national debate tournament is his ticket to the east coast, a scholarship to Georgetown, and all his DC political dreams. But when the topic, whether transgender students should be able to use the bathrooms of their choice, is announced, Finch will have to decide if he can debate against his own rights, when most of his schoolmates don’t even know that he’s transgender. Thomas creates a sharp, witty narrative, building a clear chemistry between Finch and his debate partner, Jonah, whose loving Filipino family contrasts with Finch’s tense home life. This novel captures the ups and downs of high school relationships, navigating race and privilege, and the effects of parental unemployment and alcoholism, with just the right balance of teenage sarcasm and angst. Finch and his family are white, and a diverse group of secondary characters includes Jewish, Persian, and Black representation.
VERDICT A solid entry in contemporary LGBTQIA+ young adult literature, full of cerebral teens with big plans and snark to spare.

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