Ellen Outside the Lines (Hardcover)
On Our Shelves Now
Winner of a Sydney Taylor Book Award Honor!
A heartfelt novel about a neurodivergent thirteen-year-old navigating changing friendships, a school trip, and expanding horizons for fans of Rain Reign and Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World.
Thirteen-year-old Ellen Katz feels most comfortable when her life is well planned out and people fit neatly into her predefined categories. She attends temple with Abba and Mom every Friday and Saturday. Ellen only gets crushes on girls, never boys, and she knows she can always rely on her best-and-only friend, Laurel, to help navigate social situations at their private Georgia middle school. Laurel has always made Ellen feel like being autistic is no big deal. But lately, Laurel has started making more friends, and cancelling more weekend plans with Ellen than she keeps. A school trip to Barcelona seems like the perfect place for Ellen to get their friendship back on track. Except it doesn't. Toss in a new nonbinary classmate whose identity has Ellen questioning her very binary way of seeing the world, homesickness, a scavenger hunt-style team project that takes the students through Barcelona to learn about Spanish culture and this trip is anything but what Ellen planned.
Making new friends and letting go of old ones is never easy, but Ellen might just find a comfortable new place for herself if she can learn to embrace the fact that life doesn't always stick to a planned itinerary.
About the Author
A. J. Sass (he/they) is the author of Ana on the Edge, an ALA 2021 Rainbow Book List Top 10 title, and Ellen Outside the Lines. He grew up in the Midwest, came of age in the South, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his husband and two cats who act like dogs. He invites you to visit him online at sassinsf.com, or on Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram @matokah.
A Sydney Taylor Book Award Honor Book
A Golden Kite Award Finalist, Middle Grade Fiction
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
A Booklist’s 2022 Editors’ Choice Book
* "A heartwarming and inviting book about finding self that hits at the ever-changing (and challenging) world of middle school. Recommended for all middle grade shelves."—SLJ, starred review
* "Sass' sophomore novel shines in its nuanced characterizations, subversion of stereotypes, and world that celebrates autism for the joy it brings Ellen when they are happily flapping. A tender, sweet coming-of-age story."—Booklist, starred review
"The story’s beautiful locales and scavenger hunt puzzles frame a heartwarming story about a transitional period in life, conveyed alongside an affirming, incidental portrayal of Ellen’s experiences."—Publishers Weekly
"The amazing-to-imagine school trip provides an appealing backdrop, but it is the story’s interpersonal aspects that are especially welcome."—The Horn Book
Praise for Ana on the Edge:
A Booklist Editor's Choice Title
An ALA Rainbow Book List Top Ten Title for Younger Readers
"Sass has created dynamic, original characters who are believable and fun to follow… You can’t help rooting for Ana."
"Heartfelt, nuanced and engaging, Ana on the Edge is both an insider's look at the world of competitive figure skating and a sensitive exploration of the protagonist's nonbinary identity. Highly recommended." — Barbara Dee, award-winning author of Maybe He Just Likes You and My Life in the Fish Tank
"A lovely, necessary story of self-discovery and friendship."—Ashley Herring Blake, author of Stonewall Honor book Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World
"Ana on the Edge is a poignant exploration of the importance of being seen for who you are. Ana will glide into your heart and open your mind to the richness of the full gender spectrum." — Ami Polonsky, award-winning author of Gracefully Grayson and Spin With Me
"Sass's gorgeous debut fills a much needed void on LGBTQ+ middle grade shelves." — Nicole Melleby, award-winning author of Hurricane Season
* "Sass masterfully balances Ana's passion for competitive figure skating with her journey to coming out...sensitive and realistic." — Booklist, starred review
"Sass renders scenes on and off the ice with vivid descriptions, and writes nuanced, layered portrayals of characters."—Publishers Weekly
"The tone of the story remains hopeful as [Ana] works toward a new understanding of herself. The personal connection of the author, himself a figure skater who identifies as nonbinary, to the story is evident within its pages in both the nuances of figure skating and Ana's interrogation of gender."—The Horn Book