Title: Breaking the Ice
Author: Gail Nall
Genre: MG Contemporary
Publication date: 2015
My rating: 4.5 spitwads / 5
I know approximately this much *presses thumb and first finger together* about figure skating.
Okay, fine. Maybe less than that.
When I was given an ARC of Gail's book, I wasn't sure how much I was going to be able to understand about the moves and technical stuff that accompanies the sport. Worry set in. Before I even cracked open the cover, I wondered if I'd be doing myself and the author a huge disservice by reading it.
So I tried the first chapter.
The one where Kaitlin's just finished a routine and is waiting on her scores. And when the judges display them? Kaitlin loses it and pitches a Godzilla-sized fit in front of Mom, Dad, friends, and foes.
I actually thought to myself, "Okay, I have no idea what a double spin flipper doohickey move looks like, but I totally get the feeling of gut-wrenching regret that Kaitlin's feeling right now." And then Kaitlin's skate coach kicks her off the team and Kaitlin finds her gold-medal Olympic dreams melting right before her eyes. Kaitlin has no choice but to join the only club that'll take her: the bottom-of-the-barrel Falton Club. Sure, it's run down. Sure, the ice has potholes that a New York City taxi could get lost in. Sure, all the other skaters call it the "Fall-Down" Club. But Kaitlin doesn't have a choice. She's determined to make it to the Olympics, and if she has to do it through the biggest joke of a skate club around, then fine.
That's when I realized that this book wasn't just about figure skating. It's about following your dreams. It's about learning to get back up when you fall.
And as a writer (heck, as a human being) that's something I know P-L-E-N-T-Y about. That's why Breaking the Ice worked so well for me. Yeah, it had a ton of skating lingo that was completely foreign, but that gets explained throughout Kaitlin's journey. Gail made it so easy to put myself in Kaitlin's skates. She makes Kaitlin accessible for all of us because we've all seen our own dreams get a little fuzzy at times. We've all had those post-tantrum moments where we collapse into a puddle of misery, convinced that we'll never reach our goals.
But we can get right back up. We can try again. Just like Kaitlin.
And if we can do it with a double spin flipper doohickey move . . . even better.
Click here to read an interview with Gail Nall and her debut novel, Breaking the Ice.