Tuesday, January 21, 2020

One True Way, written by Shannon Hitchcock, reviewed by Amanda Davies

Summary: Allison Drake, Allie for short, is a new student at Danielle Boone Middle School in 1970s North Carolina. She and her mom have moved to have a new start after her brother was killed in a car accident and her dad left. On her first day at school, Allie meets Samantha (Sam) Johnson and realizes that she's just met the most important person at school. Sam is friends with everyone, plays basketball, and rides horses. And she's nice. But when Sam's mom attempts to get their teacher, Miss Holt, and the basketball coach, Coach Murphy, fired because they're gay, both Allie and Sam realize that they need to figure out what they believe and who they are going to be. Matters become even complicated as Allie and Sam realize that their feelings for each other might be more than just friendly and they have to negotiate their families', their churches', and their community's expectations for them.

Straight Talk for Librarians: Allie and Sam's story is a lovely and realistic first love story. Like many middle grade books, the main characters are dealing with issues of identity, belief, popularity, grief, and problems at home. Hitchcock reveals the feelings that Allie and Sam have for each other gently and gradually, so it's no surprise when they admit that they both have feelings for each other. There are discussions of whether the girls have kissed but Hitchcock doesn't include any physical contact between them beyond them sitting shoulder to shoulder.
Parents like Sam's mom in the book, who believe that homosexuality is an abomination, might object to the content. Any challenges could be easily defended with a selection policy that emphasizes the importance of a collection that provides both windows and mirrors (Sims Bishop) of students' experiences.
Librarians looking only for #ownvoices representations of what it's like to be a gay middle school student may want to look elsewhere, although Hitchcock was intentional in having the books reviewed for authenticity.

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