December 9, 2015

Blog Tour: Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo | Review

Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo
Rating: /5

*I received digital ARC of this book from Random House Children’s (through Netgalley) as part of blog tour*

Genre: YA (Contemporary)
Pub. Date: January 19th, 2016

Get a copy here!

I am so excited to be a part of this blog tour of Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo. She's kind of 'new-to-me' author and this book made me wonder how could I never read books from her before... Up to This Pointe is one unique read with unforgettable setting and remarkable lessons. Sooo, getting an opportunity to join this blog tour was surely an experience I wouldn't miss in a heartbeat. And of course, many thanks to Random House Children's for that! ^^



Three years old was when Harper first breathes ballet. And she never stopped ever since.
At twelve, Harper and her best friend, Kate, made The Plan: to be pro ballerinas together.

Now at sixteen, so close to their dream, Harper wouldn’t let anything to get in the way.

Not her education-pro parents, not the cute boy who came and actually enjoyed her school recital, not even her long-life mentor with her horrible ‘sometimes-ballet-doesn’t-love-you-back’ speech.

Harper might not as natural as Kate but she had worked hard for this dream all her life. Being a ballerina was everything Harper had imagined of doing yet how could people see it otherwise was beyond her. It’s okay, though, because Harper was a Scott (sharing the same blood with fearless Antarctica explorer, Robert Falcon Scott, must count for something, right?). Plus she got Kate and The Plan, and that was enough to keep her spirit high facing this battle toward the future.

So imagine her surprise when her plan practically went south. Literally. South. Too much weight on her shoulder, too much pain on her toes; led to imperfect pointe and eventually fallen dream. Or was it the reverse? Harper wasn’t sure. What she was sure of now is that she had left San Fransisco for four consecutive flights to McMurdo Station. Antarctica. South Pole. Retracing her ancestor’s path might bring some enlightenment to her grieving phases. The cold, the dark, the isolation from the world outside seemed to be worrying for her miserable mental condition, but Harper had always been a challenger. And she wanted to prove that nothing could stop her again from defying gravity. Not even an extreme winter among strangers.
What started as an irresponsible getaway becomes a priceless learning session as realization came down on Harper: that even the biggest failure doesn’t mean an end but sometimes it could be a sign for you to ask yourself whether you’ve been walking on the right lane.

Five-stars Setting
Unusual setting is the first element that engaged me with Up to This PointeI could count with my fingers how many author whose books that I’ve read that actually put efforts to their setting as much as to their storyline. Jennifer Longo obviously has vast knowledge about Antarctica and I enjoyed every detail she pours into the pages which she arranges in a way that, despite the unfamiliar terms of places, evoking rich imagination by the readers. The descriptions of the station and its surrounding are clearly defined that it makes me feel like I am actually there, fighting against the cold with the other two hundreds population of McMurdo Station.

A to Z Ballet
Characters’ penchant of ballet is also written in a detailed journey of how ones love ballet, work hard for it, and decide to make it as professional jobs. We could see how Harper, compared to Kate whose talent in ballet is natural, has to work twice as hard to be on the same stage (secondary role) with her. Also there’s a financial factor where not only Harper works hard in ballet, but she also has to work hard for ballet. She teaches kids class to pay her own tuition since ballet apparently isn’t a cheap avocation. All this time, what I know about ballet is limited to beautiful girls doing pointe gracefully in cute tutu. That’s all. In this book, Longo exposes the deeper side of ballet more than what most people usually see. There’s the eating issue leading to weight issue, bony figure, bad injures on toes, the facts that there’s such a thing as body shaped and not-shaped for ballet, to the harsh world of ballet career. Just like any other career, not everyone who could do ballet actually get to be ballerina. Same thing as not everyone good in singing gets to be a singer. I love how she lays all these facts out, showing realistic side of ballet world.

Perfect Characterization(s) and Chemistry(/ies)

Harper’s character is realistic and relatable. She acts her age and along the way we could see how Harper grew up to be much better in the end. The other characters like Kate, Harper’s family, Owen, and people from McMurdo each are delineated very well. I love the dynamic of Harper’s family so much which also features healthy relationship between parents and kids. Her friendship with Kate I’m sure is relatable for most people. Living in McMurdo, Harper gets to meet a lot of new people with various characteristics. I am especially drawn to her odd friendship with Charlotte and Vivian. The three of them make a weird yet heartwarming connection as they grow closer each day. Harper’s relationship with Owen is something to die for. The romance isn’t an instant chemistry. And it’s such a moving moment watching their feelings grow along the distances that separate them.

Relatable Lessons

Told in first POV heroine, Up to This Pointe follows the story of Harper whose plan fell apart when unexpected things take turns ruined it. Harper is not a weakling. She’s stubborn and possessed a high-spirited will to reach her dream. But sometimes when you feel like you’ve done your best, things wouldn’t always go as expected. Because Harper is a hard-worker in ballet practicing, it’s expected that she would be a great ballerina one day. Yet life doesn’t work like that. There would be this small space beyond our control in the end of the day which led to a painful failure, reminding us for a possible latent mistake or just simply reminding us to keep our heads low no matter how high we’ve stood. Harper learns her lesson the hard way and as many teens do, they take a short cut: to run away. Antarctica seems like the best answer for Harper. Besides the getaway thingy, Harper wants to retrace her ancestor’s step, Scott’s, whose determination is both amazing and terrifying. Do or die-at-attempt quote might be a wise thing to say but there are circumstances that actually don’t fit the case. In Antarctica, Harper learns the best from the ‘failed’ which she found she could relate more to her own situation. That to win doesn’t always mean to successfully conquer the thing, but to know exactly where we stand against it.

Final Thought(s)

The plot is neat, goes with steady pace as the story is told in back-and-forth narration of present time and flashback scenes making the readers question what exactly happened to the narrator. The ending is executed very well without so much drama which totally suits the whole plot. With perfectly captured emotions and engaging writing style, Up to This Pointe provides a valuable journey of a young girl facing a bitter reality and eventually finds a way to save herself.

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.


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