Hitchcock, Shannon. One True Way. Scholastic, 2018. 213 pages. $16.99. ISBN 9781338181722. Ages 10-14. P7Q7
Allie: Seventh grader, recently lost her beloved older brother in a car accident, which threw her parents into conflict, mother moved the family from New Jersey to small town North Carolina for a new job as the town librarian leaving Allie’s father behind.
Sam: aka Samantha, tomboy, family belongs to a large evangelical church, loves sports (especially basketball) and her coach.
Two girls meet on Allie’s first day at a new school and become close friends—and possibly more than friends. But as Allie learns more about her new town, ugly rumors accuse the school coach and the English teacher of being lesbians. To save her beloved coach from her mother’s church, Sam gives up basketball and cannot meet Allie after school. Allie talks with her mother about her feelings for Sam, but her mother reacts badly. Fortunately for Allie, the woman minister at her church is open and supportive, but coming to grips with all her problems takes time and the stress comes between Allie and Sam.
Verdict: Stories about young lesbians for middle grade readers are still rare, and One True Way is a welcome addition. Although set in the South in the 1970’s, there is little mention of the major news stories of the time and the town population seems overwhelmingly white. The contrast in how different churches approached the topic of homosexuality is front and center. Allie, as a character, copes realistically with her grief over her brother’s death and exhibits grace and maturity as she navigates coming out to herself and her parents, especially when faced with her mother’s disapproval. Some reviews noted that this comes close to becoming a trope of the coming out story, but I think that the presence of supportive adult characters mitigates this. Highly recommended for middle to high school and public library collections.
June 2018 review by Jane Cothron.