Sincerely, Jules Machias

Getting Real | June 8, 2021

Dear Reader,


The world seems to be coming apart at the seams, and your attention is pulled in a thousand worthy directions—yet you’re still making time for this story.


Thank you.


Thirty years ago, when I was a mixed-up middle schooler, nobody was publishing books about nonbinary kids. Identities all over the gender spectrum existed then, but the words we now use to describe them did not—and having no words for who you are makes it ridiculously hard to figure out who that is. It took me decades. Some days, it still feels like a work in progress.


In Both Can Be True, Ash struggles with the 2021 version of this problem: having what feels like too many labels. Some are imposed by family and friends, some feel too vague or too constricting, and some might be just right but are discredited by those who should love Ash most. The confusion is compounded by Ash’s growing feelings for Daniel, the boy who cries too often and loves dogs like flowers love the sun.


Daniel was born of my reckless love for forgotten, neglected, and damaged animals: the mangy and smelly and paralyzed, the ones who pee in the house and drool on themselves and look at you with adoration when you show the barest hint of compassion.


This book combines two of my biggest middle-school struggles into one examination of the clumsy, inspired, beautiful ways we figure out who we are. It is my great hope that it will be a light in the dark for kids who are pushed to middle school social margins for being too tenderhearted or for not quite having themselves figured out yet.


I hope it’s a light for you too in these dark times.


With deep gratitude,


On Our Shelf

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