The Turning Pointe

Knopf. Feb. 2022. 432p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593426135.
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.

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