Dancing on the Edge had a slow start, and for the first 2/3rds of the novel, I was thinking, of course, this is your typical award novel fodder--missing parents, coming of age for a young girl, ~symbolic~ names and colors and weather events. But the last section of the book, wow. The lead-up redeems itself in the pay-off, where Miracle's psyche is finally fully realized, not just for the reader, but for Miracle herself. It's still all the typical coming of age awards fodder, but for once, it comes with a satisfying ending where the resolution delves into the true effects early abandonment can have on a child, rather than just having it be a convenient plot device. Trope finally beautifully subverted. Nolan clearly had this whole story planned out from the start, and the effort in the writing shows. This is a careful book about a careful and miraculous girl. Honestly, though, I could see this being read in middle school classrooms and the like, and that's bothersome to me. I'm 21, and I don't think I would have gotten the full effect of the novel if it wasn't for my age. I still don't think I do. It takes some perspective to understand what's happening at the end, and something about having this read by kids Miracles' age weirds me out. I wouldn't censor them from reading such a great story, of course, but I think the full impact would be missed. This one is better enjoyed with some perspective.
"there are those who say that life is like a book, with chapters for each event in your life and a limited number of pages on which you can spend your time. but i prefer to think that a book is like a life, particularly a good one, which is well worth staying up all night to finish"--lemony snicket