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Pointe, Claw

Review

Pointe, Claw

POINTE, CLAW by Amber Keyser captures the lives of two separated childhood friends, Dawn McCormick and Jessie Vale, as they come of age. Jessie is every mother's perfect child. She's chic, beautiful, independent and a talented ballet dancer with the chance to become a professional. Yet hidden beneath that flawless exterior is her obdurate family who refuses to acknowledge her passion as a realistic career choice. Dawn, on the other hand, is her mother's worst nightmare. Despite taking a college course that, if she passes, will guarantee Dawn a college education at Stanford, she is nothing but a disappointment to her egocentric mother. She isn't the frilly, girly princess her mother wants or the obedient, invisible, daughter her stepfather wants. On the surface these two teenagers have lost the bond that they once held sacred. However, when fate offers a second chance for these friends to reunite, their bond and love for each other only strengthens.

"The reunion between Dawn and Jessie seemed to be well constructed and felt genuine. I would recommend this book to any realistic fiction lovers or for anyone who enjoys ballet."

Jessie and Dawn were best friends growing up until they were ripped from each other’s arms when Jessie’s family spontaneously moved. Eight years passed and as they adjusted to living without each other, they developed into unique individuals who possess entirely new personalities. It isn’t until Jessie enrolls at the Ballet des Arts, a prestigious ballet program for adolescents that has launched the careers of many renowned ballet dancers, in hopes of obtaining a permanent spot in the Ballet des Arts Academy that Jessie and Dawn live near one another again. Only two dancers from this training program will be brought into the company permanently, and this is Jessie’s last opportunity to succeed before she turns 18. If she fails, her parents will oblige her to give up ballet and obtain a professional job. The dancers will be chosen by Eduardo Cortez, the head of the Academy, after the final performances of the year. Eduardo will direct Four Variations, a traditional piece, while Vadim Ivanov, the star male dancer in the Academy, will direct Turbulence, an untraditional dance he constructed that showcases the ugliness of human nature instead of its beauty. Just as Jessie feels like she is on the verge of a breakthrough, she is selected to dance in the less prestigious performance, Turbulence. Even more unnerving, she is suddenly reunited with Dawn via a phone conversation. As Jessie struggles to maintain her composure she is riddled with concern over reconnecting with Dawn.

Meanwhile, Dawn has been struggling with blackout episodes wherein she can’t control what she does or where she goes. Doctors are baffled by her condition which results in no diagnosis. Unbeknownst to her mother, Dawn has kept a meticulous record of her blackout episodes. She discovers that her episodes are brought on by aggression and that she appears to feel an attractive pull towards captive animals while in a blackout. Unfortunately, Dawn is unable to tell a soul about her findings until she reunites with Jessie. Both girls are no longer the carefree 9 year olds they once were, but as they spend more time together they find their love for one another is as strong as it once was. Sadly, Dawn’s blackouts are increasing in both severity and frequency. Jessie and Dawn’s lives climax the opening night of Jessie’s grand performance.

While I thought the transitions between Jessie and Dawn were executed well, I did find that the book fell a little flat overall. The ending elicited more questions than answers, and Dawn’s mental state was never clearly defined. However, the reunion between Dawn and Jessie seemed to be well constructed and felt genuine. I would recommend this book to any realistic fiction lovers or for anyone who enjoys ballet.

Reviewed by Emily G., Teen Board Member on May 24, 2017

Pointe, Claw
by Amber J. Keyser