Pointe - Brandy Colbert

Theo is feeling better these days. She is eating again, back home from treatment, and is on her way to becoming a professional dancer. But then her best friend Donovan shows up after being gone for four years after being abducted. Theo starts to relive her memories of the abduction, and Donovan's abductor. Theo's life is thrown completely upside down and things just keep going from bad to worse. 

     I wish I could say the day Donovan came home was extraordinary from the start, that I woke up knowing something special would happen that Thursday evening in October.
     But the truth is, it's like any other day of the week.
     I go to school, then I get on the train and go to ballet.

Colbert's debut novel is beautiful and chock-full of richly developed characters, both primary and secondary. Not only is the cover incredibly indicative of the lightness and darkness that both reside within Theo, but the flame-like colouring of the title reflects her voracious spirit. Beyond the richly layered story, Colbert manages to incorporate valuable insight into race, gender, and sexuality, and she manages it without sounding heavy-handed:

"Why did you call on Theo, Mr. Hammond?"
     Our teacher looked away from me, confused. "Excuse me, Donovan?"
     . . .
     "I said, why did you call on Theo? Her hand wasn't up."
     Mr. Hammond's face puckered. "Would you like to answer the question?"
     "No. I don't think either of us should have to answer." Donovan's voice was calm but his eyes were shooting poison.
     "Well, Donovan," he said slowly, as his neck and jowls then forehead burned an intriguing shade of red. "I'm asking because perhaps you could offer . . . unique perspective, as your ancestors were so closely involved."
     . . .
     Mr. Hammond never called on either one of us again during the Civil War lessons.

Though the beginning of the book does feel rather circular at times, introducing more and more characters while coming back to certain memories time and again, Part One of the novel works to build the world and introduce a cast of very rounded characters before Part Two moves toward a slightly more plot-driven conclusion. The story and the characters are well worth the build-up!

Pointe, while being about dance, is not a ballet book. There is much more at work beyond Theo's love of dance, her eating disorder, and her confusion and frustration over her past involvement with her much older boyfriend. All of these elements work together to make Theo into a wonderfully nuanced and complex protagonist.

Readers of realistic contemporary fiction will find much to love about this novel.

Highly Recommended

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