Pointe by Brandy Colbert
TW: Abuse, Eating Disorder, Kidnapping
Overview: Theo is a ballet dancer. She's going to go pro because she's that good. She is also a girl whose best friend disappeared 4 years ago. Until he reappears after being found in Vegas. Donovan's return is a relief, but, when his kidnapper is revealed, Theo recognizes his face. It's her much older boyfriend from when she was 13. She realizes that he wasn't who he claimed to be at all. While everyone worries about what kind of abuse Donovan might have endured as he remains silent, Theo starts to realize the relationship she had with "Trent", who is now known as Charlie, really have been abuse, even though she spent all that time thinking she loved him. Overall: 5
Characters: 5 Theo is an amazing character. She's so strong, both inside and out, and she's dealing with a lot of pressure. Even 4 years later, she's still coping with PTSD like symptoms from her time with Charlie, reconciling how he could be her boyfriend and feel so wrong at the same time. She is also battling a restrictive eating disorder that she's used as a coping mechanism from that time. While she's a dedicated dancer and getting ready for auditions for summer intensives, Donovan coming back places her in a paralyzing position of deciding whether or not to tell her story.
Interestingly, for as central of a role as Donovan plays in the plot, he never speaks for himself. We eventually learn how he was abducted, but never anything about what happened after. He shuts Theo and the world out. It's a bold and interesting choice, but I like how Colbert made this purely Theo's story.
That doesn't mean the people around her aren't developed on the whole. Her best friends Sara-Kate and Phil are a great support system even if she feels removed from them. Her parents are supportive but have the same problem. She has a fling with Hosea, Phil's dealer, even though he has a girlfriend. Their relationship is a big wake up call in terms of Theo's framing of the world. She immediately hears alarm bells based off her past when Hosea won't hang out with her and be public at school because he wouldn't dump his girlfriend. Even though he seems nothing like Charlie, and Hosea reads like a lost high schoolers, Theo recognizes that she wants and needs something real if she's going to go back into a relationship after the abuse she endured under the guise of a "relationship" from when she was 13.
I also love the glimmers of a relationship we see with Ruthie from her ballet class. They don't live in the same town or go to the same school, so their moments together are super vulnerable because they know their secrets are safe by nature of removal.
Plot: 5 The book doesn't stick to the synopsis you're fed on the flap copy, but I think it's better for it. More than a story of a boy and a friend come home from a kidnapping or a girl who's the best ballerina, it's the story of a girl fighting the echoes of abuse that never felt entirely abusive. Abuse by someone she thought she loved. It's also a book about a girl fighting an eating disorder, but not in the way it's typically seen. It's less about weight and food and getting thinner and more about deprivation to feel in control or to focus on something besides the demons in her head. I've never read a book that tied PTSD to disordered eating like that.
This book is heavy and intense. It should be read at the right time and with care, but it is a powerful experience.
Writing: 5 This is my favorite of Brandy's books I've read. I liked her other ones so I went to check out her debut, but this feels totally different from her other stuff. It's all consuming, and I'm impressed by how easily she traced through Theo's mind and how she integrated flashbacks seamlessly into bits and pieces. It feels like you know Theo's whole world almost from the jump.
Links of Interest:
Frankly In Love: Review Here
Into YA with Carrie Allen: Here
Michigan vs. The Boys: Review Here
Into YA with Candace Granger: Here