– Monica Roe –
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Published 15 March 2022
Air is a powerful and impressive middle grade novel about finding your voice and following your dream, while managing the transition to high school, friendship, adults who think they know best and the ways society limits the potential of all.
Air is a book I’m going to force upon a lot of people. Staff and teachers at my school, my principal, students. It’s a book I think everyone should read. The author so perfectly captures Emmie’s voice. That of a young girl who has just started seventh grade. She loves racing and jumping on ramps in her wheelchair. Chair skating. She’s an athlete and entrepreneur. She and her best friend run a small business selling plants and wheelchair bags. Emmie is saving up for a new wheelchair, one that is made for skating. But when she takes a fall at school – totally not her fault! – her new principal demands that she has a full time aide. Emmie is horrified. When the principal announces that the school plans to raise money to buy Emmie her new chair, she’s super excited, but it seems it might come at a cost and she has to decide what she wants and how to speak up for herself.
Emmie is such an awesome character. I loved being in her head as she narrates the story. She is spunky, determined, loves speed, she’s clever, a savvy businessperson, and caring. Since her mother’s death, she and her father have been managing on their own. Emmie is responsible for a lot around their house and she takes good care of her dad. She misses her mother a lot, especially when she has to face the principal without her mother’s fierce support. The addition of Emmie and her friend’s small business is a wonderful addition to the story and I, being a massive fan of sports novels, loved that Emmie is an athlete and works hard to train and improve her skills.
The author is a physical therapy professional and Emmie’s story is loosely based on a true story. She captures such a great perspective, valuing the importance for support and inclusion for those that need it, but also balancing that with independence. It also highlights how it is society and architecture that limit people with disabilities. I adored the solution that Emmie comes up with and the way she stands up for herself and others.
With themes of friendship, being a good friend, romance, family, grief, father-daughter relationships and so much more, this is just an utterly delightful book that also has such an important message. There is so much to love.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Middle grade fiction
Genre: Sport, realistic
Themes: Sport, athletes, wheelchair skating, entrepreneurs, small-business owners, school, friendship, romance, fundraising, disability.
Reading age guide: Ages 10 and up.
Published: 15 March 2022 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 272 pages.