Source: egalley from publisher
A refreshingly original contemporary YA, unlike anything readers have seen before. Perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson, John Corey Whaley, and Libba Bray.She had a plan. It went south.Harper is a dancer. She and her best friend, Kate, have one goal: becoming professional ballerinas. And Harper won’t let anything—or anyone—get in the way of The Plan, not even the boy she and Kate are both drawn to.Harper is a Scott. She’s related to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who died racing to the South Pole. So when Harper’s life takes an unexpected turn, she finagles (read: lies) her way to the icy dark of McMurdo Station . . . in Antarctica. Extreme, but somehow fitting—apparently she has always been in the dark, dancing on ice this whole time. And no one warned her. Not her family, not her best friend, not even the boy who has somehow found a way into her heart.
First Line: “The thing about Antarctica that surprises me most? The condoms. They’re absolutely everywhere.”
With an opening like that, it was impossible for me to put down Up to this Pointe. It got me RIGHT AWAY. To me, this meant: OH, THIS IS A MAIN CHARACTER I’M GOING TO GET ALONG WITH. And you know what? I did. I was immediately 100% invested in Harper Scott.
Where do I even start? Maybe that I’m grateful that this is my first read for 2016. That this is exactly what I needed right now, when I’m constantly trying to think about my ~future~ and escaping it too.
What made me love this novel was its main character, Harper. The novel is narrated by her and for the majority of the novel, we alternate from the present in Antarctica and several months back in San Francisco. We know that Harper escaped to Antarctica to rethink her life but why? What pushed her to choose isolating herself there? We get to know the full story as we see what went down in San Francisco all those months ago. And while we get to understanding the full depth of Harper’s struggles, we also see her try to find her footing and move forward in the present. I was totally invested in both timelines and I give mad props to Jennifer Longo for that because I usually prefer one timeline in cases like this.
Harper is a ballet dancer and she’s trained all her life, forgone everything and worked her ass off to pay for classes, graduate early, and to get into the San Francisco Ballet Company. With her best friend Kate, they have The Plan, which they follow religiously. No dating, no distraction, sharing an apartment once they’re in. Ohmygod, I just love how serious and dedicated Harper is in her dream of becoming a ballerina. If only I worked hard as her, who knows how accomplished I might be? All the sacrifices, all the hours spent practicing, hours spent babysitting so she can afford her classes, even teaching ballet to kids for her tuition too. She is a freakin’ rock star and wow, WHAT A STRONG CHARACTER.
I don’t know anything about ballet except pointe shoes and pirouettes but Jennifer Longo was able to make me care and make me interested in it. And that is a major plus for me. And apparently, Jen herself danced ballet!
Up to this Pointe is a character-driven novel and I was all aboard it as Harper is a character I wanted to know more and see grow. The other characters were such a delight too! In fact, there’s really no some sort of villain in here because people are sweet and kind and the love shows. And HELLO GOOD LORD GIVE ME AN OWEN, PLEASE. Owen was such a great love interest I was swooning so much! But he’s not only sweet and all that, he and Harper talk about the future and what they want to do, serious stuff and I looooove it.
The novel tackles a lot of things: after-college, career, love (for family, for art, etc), a bit on divorce, science (!!!!), how to deal with people, grief (of a dream), diversity, feeling lost, ACK THERE’S A LOT GOING ON. Sure, the novel is a bit long but every single page was worth it. AND THERE ARE PENGUINS MY HEART HELLO IS IT STILL BEATING. The magical moments Harper experienced while at Antarctica, seeing the penguins? I want that. Jennifer Longo is able to bring you everywhere she wants to. Geographically to Antarctica but more importantly, emotionally. I was with Harper every step of the way and I completely felt her being lost, her sadness, everything. It’s a testament to what a great writer Jen is.
UP TO THIS POINTE by Jennifer Longo is that book that made me alternately laugh, swoon, cry (a lot), and muse. I’ve always been into books dealing with grief, the loss of a loved one. But what if it’s not a loved one? What if it’s a dream? What do you do when you’re lost? This book is marvelously written with a voice that rang true. Moreover, I got to learn about Antarctica (It was so interesting!) and that’s a plus. (Antarctica! I didn’t even know you can visit it as a tourist. New life goal.)
P.S. Freakin’ Star Wars love and references in this book. As if I needed more reasons to love it.