Just Ash

Carolrhoda Lab. Oct. 2021. 224p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781541599246.
Gr 8 Up–Ash has always been curious about the brutal history of his hometown of Salem, MA, and the life of his relative and witch trial victim Bridget Bishop, but when he bleeds through his uniform during soccer practice, the teen discovers that being persecuted for being different is not a thing of the past. Though Ash has always known he is intersex, suddenly his teachers, parents, doctors, and friends are questioning why he got a period and what it means for his identity. At school, Ash is kicked off the boys’ soccer team and bullied by his classmates, while at home, Ash’s father broods in drunken silence and his mother pressures him to present as a girl. When a trip to the hospital leads his parents to discuss surgery to alter his body without his consent, Ash knows he needs to seek out people who will accept him as he is. Ash is white and his supportive friend and crush, Michelle, is Black. Santana, who is intersex, provides a much-needed and authentic perspective.
VERDICT An empowering, recommended story about Ash’s fight to define himself on his own terms.

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