Review of Turning Point

Turning Point
by Paula Chase
Intermediate, Middle School    Greenwillow    384 pp.    g
9/20    978-0-06-296566-0    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-06-296568-4    $7.99

The crew from the Cove (So Done, rev. 7/18; Dough Boys, rev. 7/19) is back, and best friends Rasheeda “Sheeda” Tate and Monique “Mo” Jenkins are the featured duo this go-round. Having declared it “the Lonely Summer,” Sheeda is sad to lose Mo to a prestigious three-week ballet camp; her only options for a social life are the church acquaintances her strict aunt keeps shoving her toward or bossy, opinionated neighborhood friend Tai. A third option suddenly becomes available when Mo’s older brother makes it known he’d like to be more than friends. Meanwhile, Mo, although aware that her brother is trying to run some “weak game” with her best friend, has other concerns. Without having a “typical” ballet body, and as one of the only Black dancers at camp, she faces additional scrutiny in order to prove she’s worthy of both the intensive summer training and an invitation to join the ballet school year-round. Empathetic to the ambiguities of Black girlhood, and to adolescence in general, Chase moves effortlessly between Sheeda and Mo’s alternating chapters, as they go forward with a better understanding of themselves and each other. Readers will root for Sheeda and Mo’s friendship from beginning to end. While the full dynamics of various characters and relationships are made clearer in the previous two books, this novel is a solid standalone.

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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