Skip to main content

Finding the Edge: My Life on the Ice

Review

Finding the Edge: My Life on the Ice

This book by United States National figure skating champion Karen Chen opens with a foreword by Kristi Yamaguchi, who is both an Olympic gold medalist and Chen's mentor. These opening pages delve into who Karen is as a person rather than focusing on her career as a competitive figure skater. This allows readers a glimpse into why she is a figure to be admired rather than merely an accomplished athlete. We learn about her work ethic, determination, willingness to learn and change based on input from others, and the obstacles Karen has had to overcome to pursue her dreams. Passion drives her, and it is this passion that is meant to be admired by future generations.

"Karen's message is a universal one. She is an inspirational figure who encourages young readers to pursue their passion, whether it is a sport, art, science, or something else entirely."

That zeal comes forth clearly in Karen's writing. The emotions she describes while competing, training, or enduring debilitating injuries is palpable throughout. She walks the reader through how it felt to connect to the ice for the first time, how her maturity and skill as a skater progressed throughout the years, why she made the musical selections she did, how and why she made coaching changes, and how she handled various hardships such as a twice-broken ankle. However, the focus of the book is not entirely on sport. Karen recounts vivid childhood memories spent with family in Taiwan, overcoming debilitating shyness, and her relationship with her brother. The notion of strong family bonds has a discernible presence in this book and the reader gets the sense that Karen's success would not have been possible were it not for the level of support she received from her parents, brother, and grandparents.

Because Karen describes her experiences so clearly and discusses ideas unrelated to figure skating, this book is easily accessible to those completely new to the sport. There is not an overwhelming amount of jargon used and, for those who want to learn more or clarify some of the terms mentioned, there is a useful section at the back that defines many skating-specific words or phrases, lists the schedule of all the major competitions that make up a season, and explains the International Skating Union's scoring system.

Overall, Karen's message is a universal one. She is an inspirational figure who encourages young readers to pursue their passion, whether it is a sport, art, science, or something else entirely. She explains that even negative momentum can be used to one's advantage; any hurdle may be overcome so long as one is ready to calmly face any challenges that arise along their path to success. This book is one that will make you want to do everything you can to work toward making your own dreams a reality.

Reviewed by Kat Baumgartner on December 14, 2017

Finding the Edge: My Life on the Ice
by Karen Chen and Kristi Yamaguchi