Review of Sasha Masha

Sasha Masha
by Agnes Borinsky
High School    Farrar    240 pp.    g
11/20    978-0-374-31080-6    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-374-31081-3    $9.99

Before Sasha Masha, there was Alex; a soon-to-be-junior struggling to make sense of who he is and where he belongs. The only person who seems to understand him is his best friend, Mabel. She was there the day Alex put on the green velvet dress and became Sasha Masha, the elegant and unafraid. When Mabel moves away, Alex worries he’ll return to school more misunderstood than ever. But this year holds many surprises for Alex, some of which he accepts reluctantly (such as his first girlfriend) and others he leans into with an excitement and openness he never expected. It doesn’t take long for Alex to realize something doesn’t feel right in his new relationship, and soon his confusion brings him to a queer teen group where he meets the gender-bending, ever-confident Andre. Andre introduces Alex to the world he’s been looking for: a world full of drag, dancing, and the freedom to be yourself. Borinsky walks the reader slowly and thoughtfully through Alex’s transformation without rushing past the uncomfortable and often painful parts of his journey. The tone of the book shifts alongside Alex, moving from quiet and morose with his discomfort to one of excitement and hopefulness as Sasha Masha is further revealed. The book’s conclusion is satisfying in its open-endedness, leaving both protagonist and reader with a great curiosity and optimism for what comes next.

From the January/February 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Hill Saxton

Hill Saxton is a youth services librarian at the Cambridge Public Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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