On ‘A + E’ by Ryszard Merey

Book #6 in my Trans Rights Readathon week

Tucker Lieberman
4 min readMar 26, 2023

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illustration of two faces pressed together, one with eye open, the other with eye shut, by Ryszard Merey
A + E cover from tRaum Books

When a delicate, long-haired, deep-voiced gay boy, Asher Machnik, shows up at a new high school, bullies declare they’re uncertain of his gender and beat him up in the boy’s bathroom. Ash takes the janitor’s advice and gets a shorter haircut, but insofar as the bullies have already noticed him and might perceive him as having caved to their power, short hair may not help much. It’s never that easy.

What does help is meeting Eulalie Mason, his new best friend. Eu is knife-tough, bi, and she’s immediately, irrevocably attracted to Ash.

They’re in drama club; it’s where they get to know each other through a kiss. They like to draw; it’s how they get to know each other’s bodies. They go to queer dance parties, together, with friends, under the influence, being pulled together and apart and together again as in an oceanic tide.

The story is like that tide, not following a heroic “story arc” but instead taking us from the beginning to the end of the school year, opening with the unknown seeming infinity that is high school and closing with certain things that didn’t happen but might still happen in the future. (This is Book One, Spring, in a series.)

Gender is treated in a special way here. Ash is a boy, Eu is a girl — beyond that…

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Tucker Lieberman

Editor for Prism & Pen. Author of the novel "Most Famous Short Film of All Time." https://tuckerlieberman.com/