Dancing on the Edge
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Dancing on the Edge

4.4 52
by Han Nolan

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Miracle McCloy comes from an unusual family: Her father, Dane is a prodigy who published his first book at age thirteen; her grandmother, Gigi, is clairvoyant; and her mother was dead when her "miracle" daughter was pulled from her womb. Having been raised according to a set of mystical rules and beliefs, Miracle is unable to cope in the real world. Lost in a


Miracle McCloy comes from an unusual family: Her father, Dane is a prodigy who published his first book at age thirteen; her grandmother, Gigi, is clairvoyant; and her mother was dead when her "miracle" daughter was pulled from her womb. Having been raised according to a set of mystical rules and beliefs, Miracle is unable to cope in the real world. Lost in a desperate dance among lit candles, she sets herself afire and comes to in a hospital. There, a young psychiatrist helps her navigate her painful struggle to take charge of her life.
     Includes a reader's guide and an interview with the author.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Nolan does a masterful job of drawing readers into the girl's mind and of making them care deeply about her chances for the future."—School Library Journal
"Exceptionally well-written . . . [A] sad, funny, and tender story."—Kirkus Reviews
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
When heroine Miracle McCloy's mother dies before her birth she is seen by her spiritualist grandmother as "a live baby coming out of the body of a dead woman" and named accordingly. Miracle's life seems a nightmare where reality and the spirit world vie for control. She wears only purple, lights protective candles, and puts aside urges to dance to escape unnamed evils. Miracle's responses made me squirm until I realized Nolan's intention, and her gift for effective use of voice. It is not until the end that we discover Miracle lives her life on the edge of madness created by her grandmother's misinterpretations. When reality is reinstated, Miracle's worldview, fears, confusions and actions make total sense. This winner of the National Book Award is an uncomfortable read.
VOYA - Patricia Morrow
Miracle became her name, given by her grandmother. Her mother was killed in an accident and she was delivered-a miracle. Raised by grandmother Gigi, a clairvoyant, and Dane, her reclusive writer father, Miracle is constantly fed half-truths about the past and the present. Her father was a prodigy and so should she be. But Miracle develops her own style, based on Gigi's instruction about color and aura, and receives her only affection from Dane in his writing "cave." Life goes along fine, although she has no friends and does not always succeed in school. She dislikes her Aunt Casey and Uncle Toole, the most normal-seeming people in her world. When she is ten, Dane disappears; we do not know what happens to him, but Miracle and Gigi accept the explanation of "melting," since he left his clothes behind surrounded by candles. Miracle takes us on a first-person account of new homes and family crises. Her behavior is far from normal. She reasons based on magic principles, dances so wildly she bruises herself, wears her father's bathrobe in public, replicates his cave, and becomes a weaver of magic spells for the girls at school. But Miracle internalizes the blame for all the family accidents, believing that is the reason no one wants her. In a frenzy of dance and candle burning, she catches herself on fire and wakes up in a hospital. The last part of the book deals with her recovery, triggered by some Emily Dickinson poetry and guided by a psychologist, with help from Aunt Casey and hindrance from Gigi. Miracle begins to identify the truth in what she knows and to fill in the gaps of her understanding. While the characters here are well drawn and have their warmth in spite of problems, there is something missing in keeping the story plausible. As much as we follow Miracle's self-destruction, there is not always a convincing picture of the way her mind reshapes reality, and much of her thinking seems too rational to permit such self-deception. As long as it took to sink to her lowest point, Miracle's recovery seems much too quick and miraculous. Young readers, while hoping for such ready cures, will not necessarily find them believable. The device of Dickinson's poetry is trite. This numbing book will be read by those who favor the personal journey to crisis and recovery, but it will not satisfy them the way many others have. [Editor's Note: This book is the winner of the 1997 National Book Award, Young People's Literature.] VOYA Codes: 3Q 3P J S (Readable without serious defects, Will appeal with pushing, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Children's Literature - Tim Whitney
Raised by her grandmother Gigi in an atmosphere of mystical rules and beliefs, Miracle McCloy is constantly reminded that she was rescued from the womb of a dead woman-a "miracle" birth-and that she is expected to become a prodigy, much like Dane, her moody novelist father. When Gigi claims that Dane has "melted" and can't be found Miracle devotes all of her energies to contacting him and bringing him back. Her descent into a reclusive imaginary world strikes bottom when she sets herself on fire in a desperate dance among lit candles. In the hospital she meets Dr. DeAngelis, a young psychiatrist who helps her to discover the truth about her life. Adolescent girls searching for something different to read will enjoy this unique, well-written story.
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up--Raised in one of the world's most dysfunctional families, Miracle makes a harrowing journey to the brink of insanity before taking tentative steps to reclaim her life. A compassionate novel written with sensitivity and pathos. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
Charting the near-destruction of a child's soul at the hands of the self-centered, bickering adults around her, Nolan (Send Me Down a Miracle, 1996, etc.) dives into the mind of an emotionally disturbed girl in an intense, exceptionally well-written novel.

Miracle McCloy grows from a lonely ten-year-oldraised by her well-meaning, clairvoyant, but steeped-in-denial grandmotherto a silent and troubled teen. Her mother's death and father's abandonment make Miracle feel that she doesn't exist, so she floats through life as a nonentity, a bystander. At 14, she has a breakdown and severely burns herself. Institutionalized, with the help of a kindly doctor and heroic Aunt Casey, Miracle is forced to confront her family's secrets and uncover the truth about herself. While the characters initially seem like stereotypical Southern eccentrics, Nolan skillfully discloses their true natures, allowing them to blossom on the page. The book ends on a note of hope, as Miracle takes steps toward contentment and begins to participate fully in her own life. The shadows of truth, suffering, self-expression, and repression are examined without psychobabble in this sad, funny, and tender story.

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.68(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

HAN NOLAN is the author of six other highly acclaimed novels published by Harcourt.

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Dancing on the Edge 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 52 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am 10 years old and i was in school picking out a book. i came across this and i just had to read it. i read it for an hour and begged my teacher if i could read longer. if you have not read this book you definetly should. oh yeah, i tlod my friend to read it. at first she was all against it and after she started reading it she could not stop. hope you love this book!
ktaylerr More than 1 year ago
At the beginning I thought I might want to turn it back into the library. But as I got farther into it, the harder it was to but down. I love how Han Nolan used very describing words and made you feel like you were part of the book. Miracle is so messed up, but it was a very good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
when i first started this book, i was skeptical because the whole spiritguide medium thing seemed a bit ridiculous, but i kept on reading and i can honestly say this is one of my favorites. you just have to keep reading even if it doesnt catch your attention at first, because the book it truly wonderful. i wanted to throw the book down the first day but im glad i didnt give up. i can picture the ending and it gets me everytime.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really really loved this book!!!!!! it keeped me thrilled tell the very end. Mircle is a very bright young girl and you would have never thought about what she does in this story. I REALLY REALLY REALLY loved this book!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this book was so awesome. Infact I am reading it right now! I love the details it gives and basicly the whole story. I am still dying to here the ending. i am just at the part where Miracle is at the bus station and Gigi has just left her the without any money to go home.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. You just want to read more! Miracle, the main character, is dealing with the disapearance of her father. Her grandmother isn't much help, and her grandfather is a complete stranger to her. Once again, great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don’ really think there is a main idea to this book. I believe it was just written to give the reader entertainment. Even without a main idea, this book was absolutely amazing. The book is about a young girl named Miracle. Her life is ridiculously interesting and crazy. She has no mother, her father ‘melts’, she lives with her crazy aunt, an uncle who barely shows himself to anyone, everything thinks her and her entire family are totally insane, and she can’t do the one thing she loves to do… dance. This book kept me totally interested and on the tips of my toes. So many exciting and unexpected things happen all through the book. The entire time reading the book my heart raced and my imagination ran wild thinking of what could possibly happen next. It’s a lot different from other stories like Cinderella, and The Shakespeare’s Stealer but I personally think it’s a lot better, too. This book is most definitely one of the best. As I have said before, this book was completely amazing. I could read it over and over and over again, and would never get tired of all the thrill and excitement this book holds within its pages. There is no main idea or reason for writing except to keep you, the reader, entertained.As I have said before, this book was completely amazing. I could read it over and over and over again, and would never get tired of all the thrill and excitement this book holds within its pages. There is no main idea or reason for writing except to keep you, the reader, entertained.
SashaNicole More than 1 year ago
I first read this when I was eleven and completely fell in love with it. I assumed that it would be all about dance, perhaps ballet, in the beginning but it is so much more than that. I have read this multiple times and it happens to be the only fiction novel I can read more than once. It is heartfelt and connects you with the character. You learn to care about her and feel almost sorry for all that she goes through. It takes a certain kind of person to write in such a way and Han Nolan is it.
fairbank_30 More than 1 year ago
This book was okay. I felt the first half of the book was kind of boring. Part two of the book was more interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SK_BookClub More than 1 year ago
We are 14 and 13 years old respectively, and we both read this book. Shelby: When I read the book, "Dancing on the edge" I thought it was about a girl that dance 'til the end of her life, but it was way different than I expected. The girl, Miracle, (I love that name!!) has a very weird family who treats her like dust. I thought that was just wrong, but when I got deeper, so did the story's plot. The father disappears, they move, she dances behind her grandmother's back, and everything goes whack. Miracle knows the truth, her Aunt lies, and her grandmother thinks kidnapping is a solution!? This book brought me to a world that I already knew.my mind. I know it's weird, but that's what I like. I'm 14 yrs. Old and this book is my world. Read it to be inspired. Kaitlyn: I am a 13 year old girl, and I love this book. I think anyone 12 years and older should read it. Han Nolan did a wonderful job. It is on my top 10 best books I have ever read list. When I read the book I couldn't put it down. It just keeps getting better and better as the story went on. Please read it. At least give a shot.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
i am read this book for english. god, it took me 2 months to truly finish, and im not a slow reader. miracle is such a complex character it is hard to stay with the book. it was very well writen, but god, some things that she thought made me want to through the book at the wall. she had a strange belief system, which ultimately led to her true breakdown. but she recovered way too quickley. her thoughts were too, out there for my taste. if for any english class, avoid at all cost.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the second book I have read from Han Nolan and I loved it. I couldn't put it down. Poor Miracle was sooooo messed up! I just would have liked to know what happened to Dane and Gigi in the end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was really amazing. I think that anyone who feels confused about anything in their life should read this, because I'm sure they can relate to some of the problems that occur in the story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was definitely a good book. Especially if you are into some magic, and spells. You might have to look up some words if your vocabulary isn¿t that great. But other than that it's a great book. It doesn¿t really take long to read especially if you are into it, neither is it that hard to understand either. By the middle of the book you will hate to put it down. It's not that great when you first start reading it, but don't get discouraged. Keep reading it and the farther you get the more you will get into it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think I read this book 20 times, and I'm not exagerating. This was a great story of what cold happen in one girls life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i love this book so because it tells you to be thankful what you have for example your mom and dad. i felt so sorry for micrale because she has no mom or a dad. i very very very very very very very very very very very very love this book a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is incredible! It is well written and has a great plot. I would highly recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dancing on the Edge is the story of Miracle McCloy, who blames herself for a lot of her family's problems. She was born from her dead mother, she finds herself in the emergency room when she tries to melt herself by burining herself to be with her dead father she constantly moves from place to place, she lives with her aunt and uncle who constantly argues,her grandmother Gigi who believes in spirits and auras influences her life, her grandaddy Opal who encourages her to dance and to become a prodigy like her father... this is one that you will enjoy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book interested me none. It was to much with faith and the 'truth' of what you think when you have onesided views on everything. This had to be one of the worst books i have ever read. So in close please dont read this book and save yourself some time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was GREAT honestly no other author can write a book like it.I'm trying to read all Han Nolen's books