On Top of Glass: My Stories as a Queer Girl in Figure Skating

Knopf. Oct. 2021. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593308462.
Gr 7 Up–Karina Manta dedicated her life to ice skating from a young age, moving away from friends and family to train and compete with the best of the best. Through struggles with panic attacks, an eating disorder, and embracing her bisexuality, she clung to her love of ice dancing and rose to the prestigious ranks of Team USA and Cirque du Soleil. Manta’s talent as a writer is obvious throughout, though the book occasionally struggles to transition smoothly between the slice-of-life style chapters. Particularly impressive is the gentleness and clarity with which the author approaches her younger self and past mistakes. Though the memoir deals candidly with difficult issues, it never feels tragic or sensationalized. Instead, it highlights the way toxic ideas and practices can hurt someone in ways not obvious to the outside observer. The depiction of Manta’s struggles as a female athlete provides valuable representation of eating disorders and unhealthy body expectations in people we normally think of as strong and healthy. “Spoilers” are thoughtfully placed at the end of especially difficult chapters, ensuring readers that things will turn out all right and making this a title well-suited to younger or more sensitive readers.
VERDICT This approachable, self-acceptance focused memoir is highly recommended for all teen collections and has a wide appeal that will extend to middle school audiences.

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