Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Young Adult Fiction Coming Of Age

Skating Over Thin Ice

by (author) Jean Mills

Red Deer Press
Initial publish date
Jun 2018
Coming of Age, Hockey, Music
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2018
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jun 2018
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 12 to 16
  • Grade: 7 to 11


Imogen St. Pierre is a musical prodigy, a classical pianist touring Canada and abroad in a trio with her father and grandfather. Though clearly accomplished she is also painfully awkward socially, getting lost in the music even after it's over.

Imogen's in the final year in a private boarding school where she meets a boy of the same age, Nathan McCormick, who turns out to be the Next great hockey player. Nathan however has recently been penalized for a vicious fight in an international tournament. Imogen and Nathan don't exactly become an item, but there's an elusive special quality to their connection.

Jean Mills has given us a thoughtful, moving, powerful story about what it's like to be gifted and exceptional — and still young.

About the author

Jean Mills
is celebrated for two previous Young Adult novels, Skating Over Thin Ice and Larkin on the Shore — which won the 2020 Whippoorwill Award honoring "young adult literature that sings the authentic stories of rural people and places."

Jean spends her winters in Guelph, Ontario and the rest of the time in Pugwash, Nova Scotia.

Jean Mills' profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Different and moving."
Kirkus Reviews

"Mills shines a harsh spotlight on the life of both young elites—expectations, grueling practice regimes, media pressure—and the tough emotional and physical toll it takes."

"Skating over Thin Ice is a wonderful read which is inspiring and uplifting. There are many allusions to various composers and classical music works which may inspire some readers to open up to classical music, a genre which is perhaps unfamiliar to them. As a reviewer, I need to add a small caveat or confession at this point. I am also a classically trained pianist — though never considered a prodigy! — so Imogen resonates a great deal with me. And like Pere and Papa, I have been known to cheer for my favourite hockey team, so Mills's very capable interweaving of the two worlds seems like a wonderful idea.
Lastly, the title merits some explanation. "When skating over thin ice, our safety is in our speed" is a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson. The thin ice of the novel seems to refer to the future which is uncertain for both Imogen and Nathan. Readers will cheer them on as they manage to navigate their way to the happiness which is waiting for both of them. Mills has created characters who resonate and who will be remembered long after the covers of the novel have been closed.
Highly Recommended"
CM Magazine

"In a contemporary setting, Skating Over Thin Ice by Jean Mills gives readers the experience of music from the heart of a child prodigy. Engulfed in music, even perceiving the world around her as if it were a concert hall, Imogene's identity is powerfully constructed around her gift of music. This powerful part of her identity makes it easy for her to withdraw from social interactions. Enter an extremely talented hockey player during Imogene's senior year and the story shares how these young people support each other as they navigate the "coming-of-age" as both gifted and challenged."
Worlds of Words magazine, University of Arizona

Other titles by Jean Mills

Related lists