I had high hopes for Up to This Pointe, and that was for two specific reasons: (1) ballet and (2) Antarctica. This novel tells the story of Harper, a ballet dancer from San Francisco who has always had a Plan with her best friend to audition for the San Francisco Ballet and become one of their company dancers. The Plan gets unexpectedly derailed, and Harper finds herself spending a “winter over” in Antarctica (thanks to the advantage of being a Scott, a relation of the explorer who died in an attempt to reach the South Pole) while she tries to figure out what to do next. The plot sounds a little cheesy, and truth be told, not all of Harper’s circumstances in Up to This Pointe are completely realistic. Somehow, Jennifer Longo makes everything work together quite well, and I wound up really enjoying it!
As I said in my initial thoughts on Goodreads, there’s something utterly appealing about reading about a girl who is just trying to puzzle out the circumstances of her own life, and what she’s going to do about them. Harper experiences that moment when everything you know to be true is suddenly thrown out of whack, and the blow to her life’s equilibrium is harsh enough that she feels like she needs to run away and just think. (Don’t we all feel that way sometimes? Just me? Well, then…) Harper proceeds to flee to Antarctica (which is very dramatic, and quite extraordinary), and it is there that she’s forced to face the truth about herself and her life. Harper’s personal journey, juxtaposed with the harsh reality of living in cold, isolated Antarctica, is really quite compelling to read about, and I found it difficult to set this novel down, even for just a second.
I loved Harper, and felt a strong kinship with her from the start. I also really enjoyed the descriptions of her time in Antarctica, including the extraordinary experiences she was able to take part of. I enjoyed Harper’s relationships, with her family, her friends, her mentors and even a boy or two. I also really liked the storytelling style, where chapters would alternate between the past in San Francisco and the present in Antarctica. All in all, Up to This Pointe is a wonderful contemporary read, and I’d highly recommend it.
Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers | Publication Date: January 19, 2016
Source: ARC from ALA Midwinter
Harper Scott is a dancer. She and her best friend, Kate, have one goal: becoming professional ballerinas. But while Kate is a naturally gifted dancer, Harper has had to fight for every step. And now it’s make-it-or-break-it time: if their auditions go wrong, their dreams are over. Harper won’t let anything—or anyone—get in her way, not even the boy she and Kate are both drawn to.Harper may not be a natural, but she is a Scott. She’s related to Robert Falcon Scott, the daring 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.