Thursday, January 28, 2016

Book Review: Up to this Pointe

Up to This Pointe
Jennifer Longo
Random House for Young Readers, 2016
Source: ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

I requested this book because it was about dance and as a former dancer who loves ballet, but was never cut out for ballet, I was very excited to be granted my request through Netgalley.  I wasn't quite sure what else I was getting myself into because I was really blinded by the word ballet.

Harper has had a plan all her life.  She and her best friend Kate will graduate early, audition for the San Francisco Ballet, get a crappy apartment together, and dance their way up through the ranks.  She's worked for it all her life, denied herself of so many things so that she can do her favorite thing on earth in her favorite city on earth.  But then it all comes to halt and she finds herself in Antarctica during Winter Over, stuck on The Ice for six months.  How did The Plan, her plan, go so wrong that she would end up in Antarctica?

Okay, so first of all, let's talk ballet.
I have a complicated history with this art form (as many people probably do who have ever been somewhat serious about it) that would take too long to explain.  I started ballet when I was 4 or 5 and, although there was a two year break during my angsty years, I dance in some form or another up until two years ago.  That's almost about 26 years of dancing.  I still love it.  There were so many moments during which Harper is in the studio or on stage that I was completely and utterly with her.  The way she repeated her teacher's mantra that ballet is an artform, not a competition, to how she looks at a room and imagines it emptied of furniture in order to create a dance space.

When everything crashes for her, I felt my heart sink and sink and sink.  Although I feel like I was pretty aware of my abilities and never truly had dreams of making it into any big dance company, there was the moment.  The moment when you realize that all you have just isn't enough and never will be enough--no matter how much you love it.  That moment is brutal and for Harper it just drags on and on and on.

The book begins in Antarctica, so you know right away things went wrong, but as you read, it jumps back and forth between Antarctica, the present, and San Francisco, the past.
The story begins to build itself and straighten out into how this all happened and who Harper is now that she doesn't have The Plan to lead her. There are people there who help her, who try to help her--at least.

There are love stories in here as well.  I say stories because I see many.  Harper is in the midst of her heart breaking over her biggest love--dance.  There's a new love, but it's confusing and complicated and she doesn't know what to do with it.  And then there's Antarctica and everything that's going on there.  But what I love the most about the love stories is that, although they are important to Harper's growth and understanding of herself, they aren't it.  It's not what this book is about.  It's about learning to find yourself when you've been crushed and no longer know who or what you are supposed to be.  It's about carving out a place for hope.  It's about finding a new way.  It's about family and friends.

I loved Up to this Pointe.  I found myself racing through it and wanted to find out more and hear more about dance.  Even if you aren't a dance aficionado, I think you could find quite a lot of intriguing details and events in Antarctica.  I definitely suggest this one to for older readers since there are a few older elements.

Are there any other fiction books about dance that you absolutely love?

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