Note: For this review, I used pronouns consis-tent with Ana's perceived gender identity at the beginning of the book.
Twelve-year-old Ana Jin might be last year's US Juvenile girl's figure skating champion, but that doesn't mean she likes the dresses most skaters are forced to wear during competitions. Far from it--and when Ana discovers that the program she's expected to perform at nationals this year is princess-themed, she can't figure out why it feels so wrong to her. Sure, Ana has never liked wearing dresses, but no one else at the rink seems to have a problem with it. Why should she?
But everything changes when Ana meets Hayden, a transgender boy who's just starting to learn how to skate. Especially when he mistakes her for a boy--and Ana doesn't correct him. Somehow, this feels way better than everyone just assuming she's a girl. But what does that even mean?
As the nationals qualifier draws nearer, Ana must figure out who she really is--and decide whether the world knowing her identity is worth sacrificing years of training in an uncompromisingly gendered sport.
I can't believe it took me two years to read Ana on the Edge. Thoughtful, lovely, and utterly affirming, Ana's journey is both beautiful and fast-paced, and even if I had wanted to put it down (I didn't!), I don't think I could have managed to. I absolutely loved this book. From the first page, Sass waves together figure skating, friendship, family, change, and understanding one's own identity into a story so relatable and realistic that I feel as though I could meet Ana on the street. The characters are all layered and complex, and their interactions and conflicts were spot-on. I particularly loved Ana, whose gradual understanding of her nonbinary identity felt incredibly true, and whose questions, concerns, and feelings over the course of this story made me fall in love with her. The window on the world of ultra-competitive figure skating was also very interesting, and the nuance of Ana's worries about how her mom will pay for her increasingly expensive coaching made it feel both immediate and very real. This is one of the very best realistic fiction novels I've read in a long time. Heartwarming, authentic, and beautifully true, I highly recommend Ana on the Edge to readers ages ten and up, particularly those who love realistic fiction or are considering their own gender identity.