illus. by Tillie Walden. 400p. First Second. Sept. 2017. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781626727724.
Gr 6 Up—A graphic memoir about competitive ice skating, growing up, and coming out. Walden spent much of her youth on the ice, at practices and competitions, and in locker rooms among friends, frenemies, and competitors. In this deeply personal reflection, the author/illustrator is unflinching in her examination of what drove her passion for the sport, the embarrassments and experiences that marked pivotal moments in her development, and how she eventually came out to family and friends as a young teen. The art is economical, with a simple indigo and white palette with very occasional splashes of yellow, lending the book an appropriately cold tone; readers will shiver with empathy as Walden steps onto the rink in the early morning before the sun rises. While her drive and commitment to being the best athlete is evident (at one point, she describes sleeping in her practice clothes on top of her blankets, not allowing herself to get warm so that the early morning transition would be easier), the details about some of her relationships are held at arm's length and only hinted at, most notably the strained relationship with her mother. A scene in which a male tutor sexually harasses Walden and attempts a physical assault is affecting and may spark deeper discussion. Her first romantic relationship is both tender and heartbreaking.
VERDICT An honest and intimate coming-of-age story that will be appreciated by tweens and young teens, especially those in competitive sports.

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