Review: Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo

Review: Up to This Pointe by Jennifer LongoUp to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo
Published by Random House BFYR on January 19, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Gifted
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four-half-stars

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.

Up to This Pointe is my favorite 2016 book I’ve read so far. And, sure, I haven’t read too many yet, but this one is massively good and I hope to find a lot more books like this one. Longo has managed to write one of those books that’s about heavy serious life stuff in a way that is fluffy and smile-making. Also, it’s such an original and amazing idea. I mean, have you ever read a book about a ballerina going to Antarctica?

Harper and her best friend Kate have been planning to be ballerinas together in their hometown of San Francisco almost since they started ballet as wee things. That is The Plan, and they’re confident nothing will distract them from it, even Harper’s brother’s incredibly hot friend Owen. They are focused and both dancing better than ever. Only, instead of dancing for the San Francisco Ballet Company, Harper’s in Antarctica. Up to This Pointe is about what brought Harper to Antarctica, and what she’ll do afterwards.

First off, the Antarctica setting really is so cool! *pauses for groans* Harper’s working as the assistant to a Charlotte, a black female scientist (reason number two I love this book). Now Harper isn’t actually interested in science, which she will get insulted for; she got to McMurdo by having people call in favors, possible because she’s a Scott (as in Robert Falcon Scott) and her mom’s a big deal scientist. I loved learning about her life on McMurdo during the winter over, both the dangerous (boredom, T3) and the amazing (penguins, lights).

Up to This Pointe is one of those rare-ish YA books that’s looking forward. It’s on the verge of new adult, because it’s all about what the characters are going to do or ARE doing after high school. It’s also about what to do when those plans go up in smoke, as Harper’s do. What do you do when your big dream turns out not to be reachable, no matter how incredibly hard you’ve worked toward it? A truth adults often don’t tell you is that you probably can’t do anything you set your mind to. I love, too, that the book constantly checks Harper’s white privilege, but also acknowledges that, privilege or not, your struggles are still struggles.

Harper feels so lost that she wants to run away to something else, thus Antarctica. Honestly, it’s not really the best plan, but it does ultimately get her where she’s going. The right path was right in front of her all the time, but she needed time to get through the stages of grief and accept it. I love, though, that she puts her own spin on ideas given to her by others. LOVE THIS GIRL.

The characterization in this book is ON POINT. Harper’s got an amazing narrative voice, a bit on the sarcastic side in the best way, but it’s all of the characters, primary and secondary. The female friendships are wonderful and of different sorts that aren’t represented super often in YA. Harper and Kate have been BFFs for life but are going through a seriously rough patch with the death of The Plan, and it’s not resolved by magic but by work and apologies. Harper and Charlotte bond right off but it’s a bond that goes from mentor/mentee to real friendship. Harper and Vivian have a slow burn hate to love kind of friendship. View Spoiler »

I am also so incredibly in love with this book’s familial relationships. All of the main teens in the book (except Kate) love their parents who love them in return. That doesn’t mean everything’s always perfect obviously (Owen’s mom is a little bit racist and offended that her son wants to date a white girl instead of a Chinese girl, for example), but they support each other. Harper’s parents even support her in the Antarctica plan, even though they’re not sure if it’s the right choice. The family has such a great dynamic, full of banter. Also, the dad is a baker who is super emotional and the mom is a scientist. HELL YES.

The romance takes a back seat to everything else. Harper has two options, though it’s not really a love triangle. Owen is the boy from home who she hasn’t known for very long, and then there’s Aiden, the Irish boy at McMurdo very determined to woo her. While I liked the romance, it was also the one part of the book that let me down for spoiler reasons. I do ship it but also hmmm. View Spoiler »

*pushes book at all of my contemporary lovers* You will thank me later.

Favorite Quote:

The odds of being the firt person to reach the South Pole? One in one billion seven hundred thousand.

The odds of becoming a professional ballerina? One in 0.00532 percent of the world’s seven billion population.

I like those offs. Those odds are not luck. For a person to become a ballerina, it is understood you are taking on Antarctica. You’ve got to prepare accordingly.

And you must be willing to eat your dogs.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif ballerinas in snow

4 responses to “Review: Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo”

  1. Bekka says:

    I was really excited about this book because of the setting, but I wasn’t sure about it. But after reading your review, I’ve definitely moved into pre-order territory. Everything about this book sounds amazing and I cannot wait to read it.
    Bekka recently posted…End of the Year SurveyMy Profile

  2. I’ve not heard much things about it until now but this sounds so good and my kind of contemporaries. Also gota love the puns.
    Deyse @ Bound with Words recently posted…2015 End of Year Book SurveyMy Profile

  3. I have not heard of this one but it for sure has peaked my interest, I will have to add it to my list. Sounds like a good one!
    Ashley @The Quiet Concert recently posted…Stacking the Shelves (157) – Jan 2ndMy Profile

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