Both sides now

Peyton Thomas

Book - 2021

"A transgender teen grapples with his dreams for the future and a crush on his debate partner, all while preparing to to debate trans rights at Nationals"--

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Location Call Number   Status
Young Adult Area YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Thomas Peyton Checked In
Transgender fiction
Romance fiction
New York : Dial Books 2021.
Physical Description
300 pages ; 22 cm
Ages 14+
Grades 10-12
Main Author
Peyton Thomas (author)
Review by Booklist Review

In order to win the National Debate Championships, Finch Kelly has to debate his own humanity. This year's topic is transgender bathroom access, and if he wants to win, Finch must argue on a national stage against his own right to use the bathroom. It's the only way he can impress Georgetown, his dream college, and kickstart his path to becoming the first out trans congressperson. But between his dad's long-term unemployment and his reporter mom's impending layoff, his family is closer to selling their belongings than sending him to college. Worse, his debate partner, Jonah Cabrera, is very cute, but he's in a relationship. Thomas' debut is achingly vulnerable, and readers will root for Finch as he explores his sexual orientation, handles his family's financial stress, and balances mental health with his political dreams. Finch finds an empathetic partner in Jonah, who advocates for and supports him every step of the way. Both are keenly attuned to the other's emotions, with Finch helping Jonah navigate anti-Asian racism and arguments with his boyfriend. Their strong connection as debate partners and friends shines brightly throughout the story, drawing the reader back to this central relationship like a lighthouse amid a stormy sea. There is no debate: Both Sides Now is a compelling, heartfelt must-read.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Horn Book Review

"Brilliant" debate team star Finch is a young trans man who is months away from transition surgery. The high school senior's parents struggle financially, which makes debating success and the potential scholarship especially important to Finch's hopes for college and a political career. His friend and debate partner Jonah is a similarly talented debater (and, as Finch observes, strikingly handsome). The two friends are tested when a debate topic requires them to argue against trans rights and everything they believe in. As the teens develop clearer understandings of themselves and their relationships, they are confronted with unconscious bias, including from generally supportive loved ones. Jonah, who is Filipino American, also faces racism. A cast of characters who are wise beyond their years and embrace their nerdiness exemplifies the diversity and spectrum of gender identity and sexual orientation. Debut author Thomas's conversational writing style is highly engaging and should draw readers in with a compelling story of self-realization and a bit of youthful romance. Nicholas A. Brown November/December 2021 p.119(c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

The debate club is Finch's passion, but when the topic for nationals is announced, he is anything but excited. Students from across the U.S. will be debating bathroom access for transgender students. It feels to Finch, as a White transgender boy, like a debate about his right to exist in public spaces. With hopes for winning--and thus improving the odds of a life-changing college scholarship--on the line, he has to choose between his academic and political ambitions and his emotional well-being. Complicating things are his growing feelings for his friend and debate partner, Jonah, who is gay; Finch is unsure of his sexual orientation. Queer issues are given center stage, evoking the lived experiences of many in a sensitive and sympathetic way. Racial and other identity-related subjects, while not the focus of the narrative, are also addressed, with Filipino American Jonah receiving his own fleshed-out subplot regarding anti-Asian racism and diverse representation in the supporting cast. Bigotry is depicted in its many insidious forms, including the buildup of day-to-day microaggressions. Despite presenting the full picture of these attacks, the novel makes it clear that Finch's and Jonah's lives are not bleak tragedies: They are allowed their happiness and their triumphs. These characters feel nuanced and genuine, with their identities and backgrounds as integral parts of the plot and characterization. Emotionally charged and politically relevant, this is a must-read. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.