Skating on Mars made my heart swoon. It’s one of those middle grade books I want to recommend to everyone. Don’t even continue reading, just go grab this one! Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Life isn’t easy on twelve-year-old Mars. As if seventh grade isn’t hard enough, Mars is also grappling with the recent death of their father and a realization they never got to share with him: they’re nonbinary. But with their skates laced up and the ice under their feet, all of those struggles melt away. When Mars’ triple toe loop draws the attention of a high school hot shot, he dares them to skate as a boy so the two can compete head-to-head. Unable to back down from a challenge, Mars accepts. But as competition draws near, the struggles of life off the rink start to complicate their performance in the rink, and Mars begins to second guess if there’s a place for them on the ice at all.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Skating on Mars is one of those special books which manages to be inspirational, precious, and tender at once. Huntoon’s debut not only explores friendship difficulties, but also how we press for our own future, a better vision of possibilities. As someone who has always loved figure skating, Skating on Mars was particularly tender for me. To see Mars not only discovering who they are, but also to try to create a space for others to have that safety.
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How we want to be seen for our skills and not the narrow concepts of gender. Mars’ journey explores discovering ourselves and of trying to fight for a future of our own making. To realize what we are capable and the joy of being seen for who we are – our whole selves. It fully made me cry. If you love a middle grade story about taking on the gender normative society, or about banding together with friends for a space where we are all free to express ourselves, this is for you. Find Skating on Mars on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon, Bookshop.org, & Blackwells.