Author: A.J. Sass
TW: Misgendering, Bullying, Mentions of Transphobia
Another great element of this book was the figure skating itself – I love when an author’s passion for something seeps into the pages of the book they’ve written and that is certainly the case here! There were so many detailed descriptions, and as it’s a sport I have basically no prior knowledge of, I really felt immersed in Ana’s world as a figure skater.
I’ve been reading a lot of middle grade books recently so I was excited for another one and I’d heard brilliant things about this. Firstly, the book is terrific at showing how Ana’s identity is never cut and dry. We don’t see her learning more about herself and simply swapping one label for another; instead she explores her identity without a necessary end goal which I think is a refreshing change from the lets-squeeze-everyone-into-a-box narratives that we so often see.
Ana on the Edge centres around 12 year old Ana, a figure skater who is coming to terms with her identity. Never quite comfortable with the labels others impose on her, and not thrilled about the prospect that her next competition will be princess themed, when she is mistaken for a boy by her new friend Hayden, she doesn’t correct him. But then as time goes on, Ana feels she is digger herself deeper into a hole she can’t get out of, and with the pressure of a major competition on the horizon she must face-up to the two identities she is juggling and figure out how to tell everyone the truth – but what is the truth anyway?
A wonderful book I am so glad I read, and yet again another example of how middle grade books really pave the way for novel and refreshing narratives. The representation of Ana as a person exploring their identity, and the fact that she may be nonbinary was just one area where this book was triumphant. It felt like a validating and empowering book with beautiful portrayals of family relationships, friendships, and the relationship we have with ourselves. Just go read it!!
For her age, I did think Ana’s dialogue was perhaps a little too mature, however, A.J. Sass was so great at articulating feelings that I imagine are frankly unarticulatable (that is a word, I promise…). So all in all the book felt like this big hug for its reader by saying it’s honestly okay if you just don’t know, you don’t have to have everything figured out!