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Ana on the Edge by A J Sass - Review

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Where did I get it? I had it preordered because I had seen hype about it on Twitter and wanted to read it! It arrived and I picked it up quite quickly because I was desperate to read it. 

What's it about? It's about a nonbinary kid called Ana, and at the end of the book she is still using the pronouns 'she', so that's what I will use for this review. Of course, in Ana's future she may choose a different name or different pronouns or both, and that's fine. And also of course, she may be nonbinary and use the pronouns she/her/hers, because that's fine too. But I just want to explain why I'm using those pronouns. 

So, Ana is a champion figure skater. She's twelve, she lives with her mom in San Francisco in a studio flat. Her mother works full time and tutors in the evenings and at the weekends to be able to afford Ana's skating, plus all the things like costumes, clothes, trips and so on. Ana's best friend is Tamar, who is a synchronised skater. Their coach is called Alex. 

Alex is about to move rinks to one in Oakland, so it's decided that over the summer, Ana will skate there with him. She'll go every weekday with Faith and Hope, who she knows vaguely, and she'll skate there and work on her new programme for the next year of skating. In return for free lessons, she'll work as an ice assistant with kids who are learning to skate. One week, there, she meets Hayden. Hayden at first assumes she's a boy, and Ana doesn't correct him. 

The two start a friendship, and Ana realises that 'girl' maybe doesn't describe how she feels. She starts to pull away from Tamar. She works with a new choreographer, Miss Lydia, on a dance, and gets a new costume. Both these things scream 'girl', but again, Ana doesn't feel like that. She really wants to live her truth, but is scared of doing that.

I loved this book for many reasons, especially because I felt it dealt sensitively with Ana's identity and how she finds her truth. I also like that it showed a poor family. Ana and her mom live in a studio apartment and share bunk beds; Ana's dad isn't around. I liked how their money situation was handled. I also really liked the look at competitive figure skating, which is something I find interesting!

What age range is it for? It's middle grade, so I'd say anywhere from a mature nine year old upwards. 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes! Obviously! It's a broad spectrum. I loved how Ana discovered things about herself, and how she learnt about being nonbinary. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, Ana and her mother are Chinese-American. Ana's mom came from Hawai'i originally, as did Ana's dad. Ana's dad was Jewish, so Ana and her mom sometimes go to temple too. Ana is expecting to have a bat mitzah and there's a lovely bit where she wonders what that might look like for her as a nonbinary person. (I am SURE there are Jewish nonbinary kids who have had a mitzvah!) 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No. 

Is there any sex stuff? No, and there's a refreshing lack of focus on bodies at all (which is good when you're dealing with LITERAL CHILDREN). 

Are drugs mentioned or used? No 

Is there any talk of death? No 

Are there swear words? No, and actually this is done really well. For instance, Tamar says things like 'flipping' and 'hecka', which I thought suited her perfectly and were really good ways of not having kids swear. At one point she does swear, and the narration says something like "Tamar says a word that would get me grounded for a month" which is SO GOOD. 


What criticisms do I have? None, this is so close to being a perfect book. A J Sass is an author that I will definitely be keeping an eye one. 

Would I recommend the book? Yes! A hundred percent! Especially for kids around Ana's age, but really for everyone. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I just really wanted to! 


What do I think of the cover? I like it, it shows Ana in a costume she feels comfortable in. 


What other books is it like? It is comparable to Rick by Alex Gino, which is also great. 

How many stars? Five out of five. Loved it! 


Where is the book going now? Oh I'm definitely keeping it! What's next, A J? 

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