Monday, February 1, 2021

ANA ON THE EDGE by A. J. Sass - A story about deciding who you really are

After an extended holiday break (which included returning to teaching kindergarten online and writing about my students' wonderful progress for their report cards), I'm back to reviewing some of the many books I read. This year, one of my reading goals is to expand the types of books I read to better reflect the diversity of children who read them. Along with choosing stories that call to me personally, I will also be choosing books that may help me broaden and challenge my own perspective. 

 Why you want to read this book…

Ana’s story is intriguing, full of tension and a few surprises. I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading this book, but it didn’t take long before I was hooked on the story. The way Ana’s character develops and grows seemed so natural, especially the way Ana questioned and thought about their own feelings. The backdrop of the competitive figure-skating world adds another layer to the story with the pressure to perform. This is a much-needed book and it’s so well-written that I really didn’t want to put it down.

The author’s note and an explanation of dysphoria at the back helps to explain what nonbinary means and some of the feelings a nonbinary individual might experience.


Description from the publisher…

Twelve-year-old Ana-Marie Jin, the reigning US Juvenile figure skating champion, is not a frilly dress kind of kid. So, when Ana learns that next season's program will be princess themed, doubt forms fast. Still, Ana tries to focus on training and putting together a stellar routine worthy of national success.

Once Ana meets Hayden, a transgender boy new to the rink, thoughts about the princess program and gender identity begin to take center stage. And when Hayden mistakes Ana for a boy, Ana doesn't correct him and finds comfort in this boyish identity when he's around. As their friendship develops, Ana realizes that it's tricky juggling two different identities on one slippery sheet of ice. And with a major competition approaching, Ana must decide whether telling everyone the truth is worth risking years of hard work and sacrifice.

Ana on the Edge by A. J. Sass was published by Little, Brown and Company in 2020. I read an e-version from my local library.

If you’re looking for more thought-provoking middle grade books to read, check out Marvelous Middle Grade Monday on Greg Pattridge's blog.


  1. I figure skated, so this book would appeal to me. Like many sports, there is a lot of pressure. I also find the fact the added gender factor and juggling two different identities. Will have to check this one out. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. I had not heard of this story and it sounds like a winner. I've known a few young figure skaters and this would be a great choice for them and anyone else into organized sports. The addition of gender identity adds even more appeal. Thanks for featuring on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.

  3. I've seen a couple other reviews - and know I'll want to read it.

  4. Oh my goshhhh this book touches on a lot of topics close to my heart :) I lovee the fact that it talks about figure skating. I've never done it, but I loveee watching it and also I was obsessed with an anime about it for a couple of years. This sounds like such a great find! And kudos to teaching online! I know it's hard for my teachers who teach high schoolers, so I imagine that kindergarten is a very different challenge :)

  5. I love that you're pushing yourself to try more diverse books! I hadn't seen this book before, but it sounds really excellent—I read a lot of books with LGBT+ representation, but I've seen way too few with nonbinary characters (and LGBT+ representation in non-graphic-novel MG is just tumbleweeds in general). Thanks for recommending this book!

  6. I'm trying to expand out and read more diverse books too. I haven't read one about skating or a nonbinary character. I will look for this at my library. Thanks!

  7. This sounds like a book that is taking on some difficult problems that need to be talked about in MG books. I will have to check this out. Thanks for telling me about it.


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