Kerry Winfrey
June 14, 2014 3:59 pm

Although Theo’s had her share of problems, she’s been doing better lately. She’s in recovery from an eating disorder, she’s a superstar in her ballet classes, and she’s got some great friends who enjoy hanging out at a diner (one of the best ways to spend your time, duh). But when her best friend Donovan comes back after four years, everything starts to fall apart. See, Donovan didn’t just transfer to another high school or take a long vacation…he was kidnapped.

Theo’s been wondering and worrying about him for four years, and now that he’s back, you’d think things would be awesome. But Donovan’s not talking to anyone, he won’t see Theo, and Theo realizes that she knows Donovan’s kidnapper. Pretty well, actually.

Brandy Colbert’s Pointe is all about how Theo handles the changes and disruptions in her life. She’s a girl with a whole lot going on, but Pointe never gets confusing or overwhelming. Even though a lot happens, the books focuses on Theo, her realizations, and her decisions. I want to avoid too many spoilers, so I’m being annoyingly vague–sorry! Hopefully, this mystery and intrigue (because what’s more mysterious and intriguing than a YA books column? Nothing, probably.) will encourage you to pick up a copy of Pointe. It’s surprising, exciting, a little bit heartbreaking, and an all-around amazing book.

Still not convinced? Well, I wasn’t able to hire LeVar Burton to tell you that you don’t have to take my word for it, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Here are five reasons why I think you should all read Pointe:

1. Ballet! From the title and cover, you’d be correct in guessing that this book deals with ballet. It’s fun reading all the ballet details, but Pointe is about ballet in the same way Black Swan is about ballet. It’s there providing a back drop, but the book’s really more psychological.

2. It’s not an “issue” book. Usually, the term “issue book” is used to refer to books that, well, deal with an issue. A character might be facing an eating disorder or self-harm, and the whole book would deal with that issue. And although I definitely recognize the importance of issue books (I think they can really help teenagers who are going through those problems, or introduce some awareness of those issues to teenagers who don’t know about them), the usual criticism is that they can be a little didactic. And no one wants that, least of all me. One of the reasons I enjoy writing about books for teenagers is because I often have a general disdain for authority and advice, much like a teenager on the Maury Povich show insisting that y’all don’t know me.

Pointe could easily have turned into an issue book. I mean, there are about one million Big Things going on in this book. There’s an eating disorder, sexual assault, kidnapping, etc. But somehow (probably because Brandy Colbert is a great writer), the book becomes a whole lot more than issues. Which brings us to number 3…

3. Theo is a great character. Theo is the glue that holds this whole book together. Sure, she’s got her problems (who wouldn’t when their BFF was kidnapped?), but she’s strong, smart, and dedicated. She’s one of the best dancers in her ballet class and she has big dreams. That doesn’t mean she does everything perfectly–she clearly has plenty of problems in her life. But she’s able to make mistakes, figure things out, and solve her problems herself.

4. Diversity. Do you know how many YA books have a black main character? Very, very few. It was awesome that not only was Pointe‘s main character black, but lots of other characters were non-white. Given that diversity in YA is often hard to come by, this was definitely welcome.

5. So. Many. Emotions. Theo’s sort-of-relationship with Hosea is interesting and definitely involves a lot of feelings, but that wasn’t the source of most of my emotions. Without giving too much away, Theo has a big decision to make near the end of the novel. The build up to it was so intense that I almost cried when the actual scene went down. Whew.

What about you guys? Have you read Pointe, or are you going to check it out? Let me know in the comments! And, as always, I love to hear your suggestions for books to feature in Young Adult Education. Leave me a comment, send me an email at youngadulteducation@gmail.com or find me on Twitter @KerryAnn.

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