Sasha Masha

Sasha Masha

by Agnes Borinsky

Narrated by Agnes Borinsky

Unabridged — 3 hours, 30 minutes

Sasha Masha

Sasha Masha

by Agnes Borinsky

Narrated by Agnes Borinsky

Unabridged — 3 hours, 30 minutes

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Overview

Transgender author Agnes Borinsky deftly explores gender identity and queer romance in this heart-wrenching debut novel.



Alex feels like he is in the wrong body. His skin feels strange against his bones. And then comes Tracy, who thinks he's adorably awkward, who wants to kiss him, who makes him feel like a Real Boy. But it is not quite enough. Something is missing.



As Alex grapples with his identity, he finds himself trying on dresses and swiping on lipstick in the quiet of his bedroom. He meets Andre, a gay boy who is beautiful and unafraid to be who he is. Slowly, Alex begins to realize: maybe his name isn't Alex at all. Maybe it's Sasha Masha.

Editorial Reviews

FEBRUARY 2021 - AudioFile

Author Agnes Borinsky delivers a thoughtful performance of her debut novel about a teenager who is discovering their gender identity. Alex, who is portrayed in an introspective tone, tries to discover their genuine self. Growing up in Baltimore, Alex struggles with heteronormative expectations, striving to feel like a “real boy” in the eyes of his peers and family. Then, a photograph sent from Alex’s long-distance best friend awakens dormant personal truths involving Alex's suppressed identity. The journey spans awkward moments at home, school friendships, an affirming social club for queer youth, and reflective moments alone. Parents and friends are lightly characterized, their voices imbuing their personalities with energy as Alex travels unfamiliar terrain. Borinsky's intentional pacing honors the journey listeners are invited to join. J.R.T. © AudioFile 2021, Portland, Maine

Publishers Weekly

09/28/2020

A good student well liked by his Baltimore classmates, 17-year-old Sasha Masha, who is white and Jewish, nevertheless begins his junior year lonely and inescapably sad. His adventurous, queer best friend has just moved away, and he’s beginning to feel disconnected from his peers and his body. A blossoming romantic relationship, his first, is by turns exciting and frustrating—he likes his driven, smart girlfriend but often feels that he is an “in-between” person whom she can never understand. Just when things feel truly unbearable, he encounters a group of queer teens whose informal lessons on LGBTQ community and history guide him toward self-acceptance and his first time wearing a dress. In straightforward first-person prose, debut novelist Borinsky captures the ups and downs of teenage soul-searching, struggling to define one’s gender, and coming out as trans. Though intersectionally diverse secondary characters can lack depth, they model refreshingly supportive behavior and encouragement. Sasha Masha—who uses he/him pronouns throughout the novel and is referred to by his deadname for the first half of the book—is a well-crafted, memorable protagonist whose voice rings true and whose experiences will resonate as he learns to accept that his journey, like any questioning person’s, is an ongoing one. Ages 14–up. Agent: Ross Harris, Stuart Krichevsky Literary. (Nov.)

From the Publisher

A Junior Library Guild Selection
A Lambda Literary Most Anticipated LGBTQ Book
A Bitch Media Feminist Read of the Month
A Book Riot Favorite Upcoming Book of the Month

"Written in the first-person, this coming-of-age story offers an intimate view of self-discovery. Queer community and history play a refreshing significance in Sasha Masha’s personal revelations. . . . a sensitive and vulnerable story of self-growth." —Kirkus Reviews

"Borinsky does an excellent job of taking the reader inside Sasha Masha’s troubled mind as he agonizes over his identity. The result is a memorably offbeat coming-of age-novel that is sure to resonate with readers." —Booklist

"In straightforward first-person prose, debut novelist Borinsky captures the ups and downs of teenage soul-searching, struggling to define one’s gender, and coming out as trans . . . Sasha Masha is a well-crafted, memorable protagonist whose voice rings true and whose experiences will resonate as he learns to accept that his journey, like any questioning person’s, is an ongoing one." —Publishers Weekly

"The book refreshingly ends without Alex defining his gender, pronouns, or path forward. However, the reader leaves knowing that Alex is surer in himself and ready to embark on a journey to a better, truer future. This #ownvoices novel is a reminder that “transitions” don’t always have a definite endpoint and an uncertain identity is not an invalid one." —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Borinsky walks the reader slowly and thoughtfully through Alex’s transformation without rushing past the uncomfortable and often painful parts of his journey. 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." —Horn Book

"Sasha Masha is a quiet, yet insightful novel, chronicling the confusing stages of understanding and exploring your gender identity and shows that gender is a spectrum and that it’s okay to not know where you land on it just yet. That it’s okay to experiment and find what feels right for you and that there’s no rush to put a label on it." —The Nerd Daily

School Library Journal

10/01/2020

Gr 9 Up—Just as Alex Shapelsky, a white Jewish boy from Baltimore, finally starts to feel "Real"—dating a girl, finding friends at school—a memory resurfaces that shatters his sense of self. He recalls trying on a vintage green velvet dress and calling himself a new name: Sasha Masha. Borinsky captures Alex's disjointed journey to understanding what that name means for his identity, as he learns about queer and transgender history and develops an enormous crush on his new friend Andre, a Latino boy with a shock of blue hair, who introduces Alex (as Sasha Masha) to Baltimore's queer youth culture. The novel's biggest strength is Sasha Masha's uniquely precise and cerebral voice, which captures his state of mental turmoil through his neurotic, repetitive meditations on himself, the world, and what makes people "Real." Ultimately, Sasha Masha decides he doesn't have to figure out all the details of his identity at once. While Sasha Masha's character and voice take center stage, the novel's meandering plot and rushed conclusion undercut the effectiveness of the story. In addition, the minor characters of Coco and Green, a 50-something drag queen and his partner, who teach Sasha Masha about queer ancestors, represent a particular version of queerness, verging on caricature, that will resonate with some readers but may alienate many others. VERDICT This novel depicts one queer teen's journey to self-knowledge, but its uneven quality makes it an additional purchase for larger library collections, where titles by Meredith Russo and David Levithan are popular.—Molly Saunders, Manatee County P.L., Bradenton, FL

FEBRUARY 2021 - AudioFile

Author Agnes Borinsky delivers a thoughtful performance of her debut novel about a teenager who is discovering their gender identity. Alex, who is portrayed in an introspective tone, tries to discover their genuine self. Growing up in Baltimore, Alex struggles with heteronormative expectations, striving to feel like a “real boy” in the eyes of his peers and family. Then, a photograph sent from Alex’s long-distance best friend awakens dormant personal truths involving Alex's suppressed identity. The journey spans awkward moments at home, school friendships, an affirming social club for queer youth, and reflective moments alone. Parents and friends are lightly characterized, their voices imbuing their personalities with energy as Alex travels unfamiliar terrain. Borinsky's intentional pacing honors the journey listeners are invited to join. J.R.T. © AudioFile 2021, Portland, Maine

Kirkus Reviews

2020-08-28
A transgender teen navigates new relationships and heartache in the midst of an awakening identity.

Everything about White, Jewish, 17-year-old Sasha Masha’s life feels wrong. Polite smiles and good grades mask underlying surges of sadness. When Sasha Masha’s bold, queer best friend moves away, junior year becomes a time of grappling with identity outside of this friendship. An unexpected romance blossoms with Black girl Tracy, an academic superstar, and for the first time Sasha Masha starts to feel like a “Real” person. Despite how much Sasha Masha wants a relationship with Tracy, it’s a struggle to open up and express that something feels wrong until desperation leads to a community meeting of queer teens. Written in the first-person, this coming-of-age story offers an intimate view of self-discovery. Queer community and history play a refreshing significance in Sasha Masha’s personal revelations. Finding a name is a turning point within the narrative, so for most of the book other characters use Sasha Masha’s deadname. Characters model consent within their relationships, demonstrating the importance of asking before making any physical advance. The small cast of characters shows awareness of diversity and the impact of racial privilege. Unlike in many coming-out stories, Sasha Masha doesn’t arrive at a clear resolution possessing all the answers, instead displaying a sense of peace with the ongoing journey ahead.

A sensitive and vulnerable story of self-growth. (appendix) (Fiction. 14-18)

Product Details

BN ID: 2940176334371
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Publication date: 12/08/2020
Edition description: Unabridged
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