Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dancing on the Edge (Book Awards Challenge II #1)

Han Nolan won the National Book Award in 1997 for this YA novel about a girl who has never been told the truth of how she was born. Miracle McCloy was taken from the body of her pregant mother after she had been hit by an ambulance. Raised by her father and her clairvoyant grandmother, Miracle is always on the outside of her family...never the object of positive attention. When her father dissapears, Miracle is left trying to pick up the pieces of herself. The only thing that makes her feel whols is dancing - something her grandmother absolutely forbids. An outcast at school and at home, Miracle wonders if what her grandfather tells her is true, "If your mama was dead when you were born, then you was never born. It's as plain as plain as that." But Miracle's attempt to feel alive nearly kills her.

Nolan's novel is incredibly painful. The neglect and selfishness of her relatives and Miracle's attempt to belong hurts to read about - but it is also a fascinating exploration of psychology and the workings of a teen mind. Miracle's idea that she is to blame for huge things beyond her control is not atypical of teenagers. The writing is beautiful and I kept hoping that somehow Miracle could get beyond her family and find some happiness in her life.

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