Review of Ana on the Edge

Ana on the Edge
by A. J. Sass
Intermediate, Middle School    Little, Brown    240 pp.    g
10/20    978-0-316-45861-0    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-316-45863-4    $9.99

After winning the title of U.S. Juvenile Girls Champion in figure skating, twelve-year-old Ana-Marie Jin is ready to start a new season on the ice, competing at a higher level and commuting most days from San Francisco to a new rink in Oakland. It also means working with a new choreographer who is not only strict but requires all female skaters to wear skirts, even to practice. Ana starts to notice that “girly” things at which she had previously never blinked an eye, such as being referred to as “Miss Ana-Marie” and wearing a bedazzled costume for competitions, now make her cringe. With help from new friend Hayden, a transgender skate student she meets at the rink, Ana begins to see her gender in a new, fluid way: “Uncertainty feels like less of a burden and more of an opportunity.” Ana’s family (a single-parent Chinese American Jewish family) is not one frequently represented in middle-grade stories. For all of the protagonist’s discomfort, the tone of the story remains hopeful as she works toward a new understanding of herself. She decides to continue using her given name and pronouns — a helpful reminder that there is no one way to identify as nonbinary. The personal connection of the author, a figure skater who identifies as nonbinary, to the story is evident within its pages in both the nuances of figure skating and Ana’s interrogation of gender, and is explained in a thoughtful note at the end.

From the November/December 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Hill Saxton

Hill Saxton is a youth services librarian at the Cambridge Public Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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