The turning pointe

Vanessa L. Torres

Book - 2022

"In 1980s Minnesota, when auditions for a concert with Prince are announced, 16-year-old Rosa Dominguez, the daughter of a tyrant ballet master, is desperate to escape her pointe shoes and show everyone what she can do"--

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Young Adult Area YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Torres Vanessa Checked In
Young adult fiction
New York : Alfred A. Knopf [2022]
First edition
Physical Description
425 pages ; 22 cm
Main Author
Vanessa L. Torres (author)
Review by Booklist Review

In 1983 Minnesota, 16-year-old Rosa is a talented ballerina who has different dreams from her parents when it comes to her dance career. She prefers edgier beats (Prince is her artistic hero) and longs to try different dance styles. But under the watchful eye of her abusive, alcoholic father, who is also the ballet master of the Minnesota Dance Company, she resigns herself to a life dedicated to ballet. Then, one day, Nikki, a boy of Puerto Rican heritage, enters her life, as does an opportunity to dance with Prince at a nightclub! Nikki shows Rosa the reality of her corner of Minnesota, where guys wearing makeup are harassed, AIDS is rampant, but hope never dies. While digging into the edgy punk scene of Minneapolis' Block E, the narrative lets Rosa embrace her Mexican American heritage in style, including the performance of some new, sensual dance moves and the realization of where her heart truly lies. Realistic with a beautifully hopeful ending, Torres' historical novel will dance its way into readers' hearts.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Set in 1983 Minneapolis, Torres's sprawling debut is told by 16-year-old Rosa Dominguez, a passionate, Prince-obsessed Mexican American dancer whose family has recently undergone significant change. Brought up on ballet--her mother and older sister Gloria were star ballerinas, and the siblings' father, Geno, is the Minnesota Dance Company's tyrannical ballet master--Rosa instead longs to dance "street moves infused with funk, rock and in-your-face intentions." When Geno dangles an opportunity to do just that on stage with Prince if she auditions for a ballet apprenticeship, Rosa agrees. She nevertheless remains engulfed by guilt about the accident that left Gloria partially paralyzed and able to speak only two words, turned their mother into Gloria's caregiver, and precipitated the decision by Geno, who lives with an alcohol reliance, to leave the family. Meanwhile, she meets Puerto Rican Nico "Nikki" Madera, who taps to Van Halen and makes her heart race but faces his own situation. Firmly rooted in era and place, interwoven with Spanish and filled with vivid, frequently gritty, sensory details and suspenseful subplots, the novel powerfully depicts Rosa's emotional voice, deep love for Gloria, and struggles toward understanding, acceptance, and joy. Ages 12--up. Agent: Louise Fury, Bent Agency. (Feb.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 10 Up--Torres's novel reads like a love letter to Minneapolis and the 1980s. Prince looms large in this novel, as do Walkmans, Michael Jackson, and Indiana Jones. At the center of this throwback is 16-year-old Rosa Dominguez, the daughter of a demanding ballet instructor. Master Geno wants Rosa's turnouts at strictly 180 degrees, her leotard a soft rose, and her arches high. Rosa's heart, however, leans toward pop music and dancing to Prince songs. Under her father's demanding rule, however, it's strictly Tchaikovsky, tutus, and Black Swan for her. Torres's coming-of-age novel tackles guilt, a family enduring a father's alcoholism, a mother's withdrawal of love, and a sister's disability. While carrying these family burdens, Rosa learns to navigate the new terrain of a budding romance and desire. Torres's work also explores homophobia, the AIDS epidemic, and queer culture. Through the character Nikki, readers see the violent hostility that genderfluid people experienced during that period. VERDICT Due to the inclusion of violent, homophobic situations that characters endure, this realistic fiction work is recommended to older teens.--Stephanie Creamer

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

A love letter to Prince and 1983 Minnesota. Sixteen-year-old Rosa's days revolve around ballet, but her heart's not in it. She yearns for funky beats, and Prince is her hero, but under the abuse of Master Geno and the Minnesota Dance Company, she still shines as a ballerina. Master Geno also happens to be her alcoholic father who abandoned her family after he couldn't deal with the aftermath of an accident 18 months ago. The accident left Gloria, Rosa's sister, mostly paralyzed and only able to say two words. Rosa feels responsible and is only going through the motions of living, until hope comes in the form of two things: a boy called Nikki and the opportunity to dance with Prince when he performs at a local nightclub. Nikki introduces her to sexy dance moves and the world that's lived on the corner of her street but that she'd ignored until now: a world where boys who wear makeup get beat up, and queer men die from AIDS. The novel is vivid with historic details, making Minneapolis' Block E neighborhood a character in itself and setting the atmosphere for a relatable main character to learn what her truth is and what it means to live it. Rosa is Mexican American, and Nikki is Puerto Rican; Spanish is seamlessly woven throughout, adding cultural texture to the story. A powerful story of overcoming expectations with a hopeful ending. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.