Breaking the Ice
by Gail Nall
Kaitlin longs to perfect her figure skating program and win a spot at Nationals. Unfortunately, she loses her temper at a competition and insults the judges, after which she is dropped by both her coach and her skating club. Now the only club that will take her on is Fallton, nicknamed Fall Down, which is home to a group of misfit skaters, known for blowing it at competitions. At Fallton, Mia's new coach encourages her to connect emotionally with a brand-new tango-inspired skating routine, while cute boy Braedon gets her into trouble and level-headed Miyu provides friendship and support.
This book is different from a lot of other middle grade novels from Aladdin because the main character has an actual life-changing problem. Other books focus on friendship and boy troubles - and there is some of that here - but this story focuses mainly on how young girls can bounce back from mistakes through hard work and determination. Debut author Gail Nall does a wonderful job of helping the reader to feel the tremendous pressure Kaitlin is under. She resolves Kaitlin's problems realistically as well, without ever providing an easy way out. It's a little disappointing that this book portrays homeschooling in such a negative light, giving into stereotypes that homeschooled kids are lonely, but this is the only true flaw in an otherwise enjoyable read.
Breaking the Ice is a relatable story that will engage many middle school girls who, like Kaitlin, are struggling to be themselves, do their best, and express their needs. Other figure skating stories for this age group include Sugar and Ice by Kate Messner, the Mia books from American Girl, and Gold Medal Winner by Donna Freitas.
I received a digital ARC of Breaking the Ice from Aladdin via NetGalley.