Sasha Masha by Agnes Borinsky is a coming of age contemporary novel. In Sasha Masha, we follow Alex as he discovers that maybe…he’s not quite who he thought he was.
Alex has been living life on autopilot. He is good at school, and he works hard. His parents love him. He had a best friend named Mabel, but she moved away. Alex gets a girlfriend, named Tracy, and she is nice and kind. But Alex still feels like he is not a Real Boy. These feelings are overwhelming, and sometimes make him frustrated and angry.
“I’d have moments when I felt that about my whole body. It was too big, too bulky. It was…what, exactly?”
Then Alex meets Andre at the Lavender Ladder- a queer community. He introduces himself as Sasha Masha, and without knowing why, he knows it feels right. In this book, we follow Alex’s journey as he discovers that he might be transgendered, and what that might mean. It is a real look into an experience many young people have- self-discovery. And how that discovery may not fit the molds life has placed you in.
Borinsky does a beautiful job of writing this experience. From drag mothers to parents not understanding but wanting to, this book was well written. While I enjoyed this book, there were some moments that I felt disconnected from it. It seemed some things were drawn out, while others didn’t get enough light. The relationship with Tracy was clumsy, as intended, but it felt like it lasted too long. I suppose I wanted more of what happens as Sasha Masha discovers who they are, but the story was focused on the before- and I do get that.
“People who hold power don’t like to put themselves at risk. And that’s why queer people have generally been the visionaries. Because when your everyday life is a risk, you start to think about it all differently. You start to realize that organizing your days around keeping yourself protected is dumb as shit, and that there’s a whole universe of meaning and connection when you get beyond that.”
The interaction with Coco and Green was beautiful. You see the history of activists before us, and the work that they’ve done. There is an awareness brought to light about the conversations that need to be had, and how so much of the activism now is simply for comfort’s sake, and not full change. I think making sure Alex/Sasha Masha saw this first hand at the beginning of their journey was really important. It showed the battle he would possibly have to fight, and the battles already fought for him.
“But again, my dears, it’s not about comfort. Safety, yes, please. But comfort? Comfort is overrated. As far as I’m concerned, life is about being alive and being connected to your fellow creatures. Full stop.”
A review for this is difficult because this book is messy. It’s supposed to be messy because this experience is not cut and dry. Aside from some moments being slower than others and interrupting the pace of this book, this book was incredibly enjoyable and I cannot wait to read more from Agnes.
4/5 Stars overall.
Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.