Chase, Paula. Turning Point. Fiction. Greenwillow, 08/2020. 384pp. $16.99. 978-0-06-296566-0. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 5-9.
Set in the same neighborhood as Paula Chase’s earlier books, So Done (2018) and Dough Boys (2019), this stand-alone novel features two best friends entering ninth grade in the fall, who encounter new social landscapes when Monique (Mo) leaves home to participate in an intensive summer ballet program where she is one of only two Black students amid a sea of white “ballerina Barbie doll(s).” Rasheeda (Sheeda), who remains behind, starts developing feelings for Mo’s older brother Lennie and chafes at the restrictions imposed by her deeply religious aunt. The third-person narrative alternates between Mo and Sheeda’s stories with interspersed text messages connecting and adding depth to the book’s interesting, well-developed characters. The girls grapple with issues of race, identity, and trust as a hurt and frustrated Mo lashes out at other dancers, and Sheeda questions whether Lennie is playing her. The author shines in her depictions of both ballet training and the Baptist church community. This compelling story is certain to entice a broad range of middle school and even early high school readers.
Jenny Andrus, Independent