Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo
Published by Random House on 2016-01-19
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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Harper is a dancer. She and her best friend, Kate, have one goal: becoming professional ballerinas. And Harper won't let anything--or anyone--get in the way of The Plan, not even the boy she and Kate are both drawn to. Harper is a Scott. She's related to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who died racing Amundsen and Shackleton to the South Pole. So when Harper's life takes an unexpected turn, she finagles (read: lies) her way to the icy dark of McMurdo Station . . . in Antarctica. Extreme, but somehow fitting--apparently she has always been in the dark, dancing on ice this whole time. And no one warned her. Not her family, not her best friend, not even the boy who has somehow found a way into her heart. It will take a visit from Shackleton's ghost--the explorer who didn't make it to the South Pole, but who got all of his men out alive--to teach Harper that success isn't always what's important, sometimes it's more important to learn how to fail successfully.
“Your love is evident,” she says. “But, darling, sometimes ballet does not love us back.”
When I started this book, I knew very little about it. I’d read something about ballet dancing and Antarctica (which was an unusual combination, but not something that instantly called to me) but that was it, and I’d never heard of the author before. So it came as quite a surprise when this book touched me very deeply.
To be honest, ballet is not my thing. I took some lessons as a kid and hated it. I was chubby and uncomfortable in a leotard, and let’s be honest, I’d always rather be reading than doing anything else.
However, that doesn’t really matter with Up to This Pointe because, while about ballet dancing, the underlying story is a universal one that I think will speak to every reader, whether they personally relate to it or not. It’s a story full of sadness but also, ultimately, full of hope.
Kids these days are expected to have it all figured out. To know what they want to do, to have mapped out their road to college and beyond. Luckily for Harper, that has never been a problem. There’s only been one thing she has loved her whole life, only one thing she has known with absolute certainty that she was born to do – ballet dancing. But one day her beloved teacher breaks down and tells her the truth: she will never be a ballet dancer. Her dream is not meant to happen.
I think this book is a fantastic exploration of the lows we reach sometimes, and the light that is waiting at the end of the tunnel. It’s a sad, honest tale of how sometimes, no matter how badly we want something, we just can’t have it. And that is a heavy blow to have to deal with.
“None of it felt real.
This was not The Plan.”
The only way Harper can cope with her situation is to run away with a group of scientists to one of the coldest, darkest, most challenging places to survive on Earth. You guessed it – Antarctica. There, she learns many things about herself, life, dreams that work out, and dreams that don’t. The author introduces one of my favourite things – many fantastic female friendships that provide hilarity, angst, encouragement, jealousy and happiness in the darkest times.
The book manages to be both dark and depressing, as well as light and uplifting. While it is about facing harsh truths of reality, it is also about taking all of that and running with it, still doing what you love, still finding your own worth.
I honestly found it wonderful. I liked the characters. I liked the messages and the array of emotions explored with them. And I liked the way Harper’s love of San Francisco played an important role in the telling of this story:
Thin clouds move swiftly from the ocean, hazy in the bright blue sky. The ocean air is clean and cold. Seagulls float above the Jordan almond-colored row houses; blackbirds sit on the telephone wires.
I love this city.
I'm Emily May - a twenty-something year old book blogger from the North of England. Currently going wherever the wind or the storyline takes me. Find me on Goodreads
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