Theo, short for Theodora, makes a lot of really bad choices. She’s definitely riding on the hot mess express for most of Pointe. Despite her intense passion for ballet and dreams of having a professional ballet career, Theo drinks more than is good for her, smokes occasionally, and does drugs. She lost her virginity when she was 13 to an 18 year old, who left her without any explanation. Following his desertion and the disappearance of her best friend, Donovan, Theo developed an eating disorder, as an attempt at feeling in control. Though she’s been sent to Juniper Hills for rehab, she continues to avoid eating as much as possible.
As you can probably tell, Theo’s not a healthy girl mentally or physically. Reading Pointe hurts, because you want so badly to intervene but you can’t. If I could climb inside the book and give her a talking to, I would. The thing is that you can’t. It’s actually a lot like real life, because, no matter how much you want to help someone like Theo, you really can’t; even if you’re close, they can’t be helped until they are ready to be, just like Juniper Hills was ineffective.
To use some comparison marketing here, Pointe is a bit like Wintergirls meets Center Stage, though with much more of the Laurie Halse Anderson side of things. The ballet aspects are amazing. I love the way that ballet is clearly the only thing keeping Theo going. It’s the only thing in her life that’s stable and that she can count on. It’s the one thing that keeps her eating, albeit minimally.
On Goodreads, you’ll see Pointe classified, among other things, as a romance. While there is kissing and even sexing, Pointe is not a romance. This is a novel about acknowledging and dealing with your problems. This is not the sort of issues book where a tragic past is fixed by the discovery of a new love. THIS is the reason that Pointe worked for me. The emotional arc is well done and entirely believable.
What Left Me Wanting More:
Obviously, I struggled at the beginning with Theo’s drug use (I just can’t with this) and with Theo’s narrative voice. For whatever reason, Theo’s first person narrative voice didn’t really work for me. I never fell into the character and became entirely enraptured. I felt a bit removed and was aware of the fact that I was just reading a character, rather than becoming absorbed in a person.
I recommend Pointe for readers of dark contemporary novels, particularly fans of Laurie Halse Anderson. It’s a thought-provoking, painful read with a good message.