cover image Ana on the Edge

Ana on the Edge

A.J. Sass. Little, Brown, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-316-45861-0

Debut novelist Sass tackles the subject of gender identity in this novel set in the world of competitive figure skating. Ana-Marie Jin, a biracial (Chinese/white) 12-year-old figure skater, faces new challenges after winning Juvenile Nationals. Moving up to the intermediate level means that, instead of skating in hometown San Francisco with best friend Tamar, Ana will work with a coach and a famous choreographer in nearby Oakland. Never a fan of dresses or skirts, Ana balks when the choreographer assigns a princess-themed routine (“the graceful edges, the dainty arm movements”). What feels more comfortable is when transgender skater Hayden, whom Ana is teaching in exchange for free ice time, sees Ana as a boy. Ana’s bourgeoning understanding of gender within a traditionally binary sport, and fear that people won’t accept or understand a different pronoun, offers a mirror and window for readers. Nonbinary figure skater Sass renders scenes on and off the ice with vivid descriptions, and writes nuanced, layered portrayals of characters including Ana’s devoted working-class mother, inspirational coach, and friend Hayden, who knows exactly who he is. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Jordan Hamessley, New Leaf Literary. (Oct.)[/em]

Correction: This review has been updated for accuracy.