Hitchcock, Shannon. One True Way. New York: Scholastic Press, 2018.
Set in 1977, this engaging middle grade novel follows middle-schooler Allie as she develops a crush on a new friend and realizes she’s gay.
Allie has just moved to a small town in North Carolina. Her older brother recently passed away and her father left shortly after, leaving her to be the sole emotional support for her mom, who has developed some new anxieties and is deeply grieving. She goes to her first day of seventh grade, a little nervous about being at a new school, but determined to join the school newspaper staff.
Right away, Allie meets Sam, who seems to know everybody and is happy to introduce her around and help her find her way. Allie gets the coveted reporter position and her first job is interviewing Sam about her competitive horse riding. The two don’t have a lot in common but find it easy to be together and talk. They quickly become friends and Allie finds herself thinking about Sam all the time, looking forward to calling her on the phone, and jealous of her other friends.
As the friends spend more time together, Allie slowly realizes that Sam is a lesbian, that she has feelings for her, and that that might make her a lesbian too. Her uncle is gay, so she’s been exposed to the idea before, but it’s tough to figure out her own identity, especially in a time when homosexuality is decried on the radio and television. Sam’s parents attend a church called One True Way that preaches that homosexuality is a sin.
Allie navigates her new feelings in a homophobic climate with bravery and an excellent reporter’s self-reflection. One True Way is sensitively told and will help youth contemplate their own identities and values in an age-appropriate way. I recommend this lovely novel for older elementary and middle school children.
One True Way received a starred Kirkus review.