Study Guide

Dancing on the Edge Genre

By Han Nolan

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Coming of Age; Family Drama; Young Adult Literature

Dancing on the Edge is a coming-of-age story of the most extreme kind because it involves a character not only emerging into greater self-awareness, but also letting go of beliefs and superstitions that immobilize and weaken her throughout her childhood. Throughout the book, Miracle gradually abandons the beliefs she's raised with—specifically, that her identity is found in her dead mother and her prodigy father, and that Gigi's rules about colors and numbers control the order of things. As she lets go, she also comes into her own.

While the subject matter is often bleak, the story's ultimately happy ending gives us a hopeful outlook for this young character's future. "It felt so good to get away from Gigi," Miracle says, "from the hold she had on me. I felt so free and light" (30.1). Seeing Miracle go from a scared little girl huddled in her dad's old bathrobe to a young woman with the courage to stand up to Gigi definitely illustrates the transformation from childhood to emergent adulthood. Along these lines, the book is written toward a young adult audience, so it's also in the YA genre.

While this book is definitely Miracle's story—we're in her head the whole time, after all—it's also a bit of a family drama because so much of the drama in Miracle's life stems from her family. Without her mother's death, her father's disappearance, her grandmother's controlling ways, her grandfather's love and weak health, and her aunt's transformation into a self-possessed mother figure, Miracle doesn't really have a story to tell. So as much as she takes center stage, with so much family in the wings, this book gives a solid nod to the family drama genre, too.

Dancing on the Edge Genre Study Group

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