The Turning Pointe is one of those books which will gut you in the best way. It’s complex, messy, emotional, and tender all at once. While I was initially entranced by the ballet angle, I ended up absolutely loving Rosa’s story of guilt, family expectations, and passion. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
When sixteen-year-old Rosa Dominguez pirouettes, she is poetry in pointe shoes. And as the daughter of a tyrant ballet Master, Rosa seems destined to become the star principal dancer of her studio. But Rosa would do anything for one hour in the dance studio upstairs where Prince, the Purple One himself, is in the house.
After her father announces their upcoming auditions for a concert with Prince, Rosa is more determined than ever to succeed. Then Nikki–the cross-dressing, funky boy who works in the dance shop–leaps into her life. Weighed down by family expectations, Rosa is at a crossroads, desperate to escape so she can show everyone what she can do when freed of her pointe shoes. Now is her chance to break away from a life in tulle, grooving to that unmistakable Minneapolis sound reverberating through every bone in her body.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: self harm, homophobia, fatphobia, family member addicted to alcohol
Let’s just start with the angle that hooked me – the ballet. As a former hobby ballerina, I loved being immersed back into the dancing world. First of all, I never really did much pointe, but being back in the world of leotards, lambs wool, and dancing classes thrilled me. At the same time, it’s so clearly connected to Rosa’s passion and expression. I loved how The Turning Pointe explores the relationship of Rosa to both ballet and dance in general. Dance can express us in ways words cannot.
And for Rosa not only is ballet a sore subject, but also her relationship to the dance she feels in her soul is different. This connects to a general theme of dreams in The Turning Pointe. She must figure out if her dreams are truly her own and if it’s worth pursuing someone else’s. If the weight of family expectations and guilt is enough. The family relationship, while complicated and laden with guilt and issues, was fantastic to read about. To see characters struggling and not knowing how to reach out, ships passing in the night, until a tipping point.
Each of them have their own dreams, demons, and fears. Reading about their utterly relatable – in their complexity – family struggles quickly became one my favorite elements. There were moments of tenderness and an almost demanding need for praise. How the right words can lift you up with almost nothing. And how one look can bring you back down. We get so caught up in our own world, we can fail to see others or even the ways we sabotage ourselves.
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Additionally, Nikki’s story, homophobia against his cross-dressing and his own journey with dance was a phenomenal addition. All in all, The Turning Pointe is a gripping and emotionally laden story about family, dreams, and love. About ashes which fall around us in paper house we built ourselves. In worlds we inherited, hate, and love, but call home. The spaces we inhabit as ourselves which can be sometimes scarier than who we are as someone else.