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Last Updated on January 12, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 999

Author: Brandy Colbert

First published: 2014

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Drama

Time of plot: 2010s

Locale: Chicago, Illinois

Principal characters

Theodora "Theo" Cartwright, a high school student and aspiring ballerina

Donovan Pratt, her best friend who disappeared when he was thirteen

Hosea Roth , her...

(The entire section contains 999 words.)

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Author: Brandy Colbert

First published: 2014

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Drama

Time of plot: 2010s

Locale: Chicago, Illinois

Principal characters

Theodora "Theo" Cartwright, a high school student and aspiring ballerina

Donovan Pratt, her best friend who disappeared when he was thirteen

Hosea Roth, her current romantic interest

Chris Fenner, her former boyfriend

Sara-Kate, her friend

Phil, her friend

The Story

Theo Cartwright believes that her life and her potential career as a professional ballerina are finally back on track, now that she has recovered from the abduction of her best friend Donovan four years earlier and from a period spent in residential treatment for anorexia. Her newfound confidence is profoundly shaken, however, when Donovan is suddenly found living in Las Vegas with his abductor. Donovan refuses to speak to anyone about his ordeal, and Theo is tormented by not knowing whether Donovan was literally abducted or whether he ran away with his kidnapper willingly. In addition, not only does Theo know the thirty-year-old abductor, Chris Fenner, he is actually her ex-boyfriend, whom she knew under his guise as an eighteen-year-old named Trent Miller. Considering that she was only thirteen years old when she and Chris had sex, Theo must now face the fact that she, too, was raped in the eyes of the law.Courtesy of Penguin Young Readers

With the worst possible timing, Theo's ballet teacher tells her she is ready to audition for the summer intensive workshops that are critical to a professional ballet career, but Theo is distracted by the media's interest in Donovan's return and Chris's upcoming trial. Initially, Theo finds it impossible to accept that Chris raped her, in part because she continues to derive much of her self-esteem from sexual attention. In addition, Theo feels somewhat out of place as one of only a few African American students in both her Chicago suburb and the ballet world. She finds herself drawn to Hosea, an enigmatic fellow student who alternately works as the piano accompanist in her dance classes and as a drug dealer. Hosea is the first boy with whom Theo can share her love of dancing and classical music, and she therefore finds herself willing to accept the relationship on his terms, meeting him in secret because he is not prepared to break up with his girlfriend. However, this unhealthy relationship begins to take its own toll, leading Theo to once again starve herself and risk her own health and career.

As the trial grows near, Theo rationalizes her indecision about whether to expose Chris based on Donovan's continued silence, reasoning that she cannot make a decision until she knows for sure whether Donovan ran away with Chris willingly. She withdraws from everyone except Hosea, shutting out her parents and her two closest friends, Sara-Kate and Phil. However, when the trial starts and she sees Donovan for the first time since his return, his haunted eyes finally convince her that regardless of whether Donovan left willingly, he still was raped, and so was she. Facing the courtroom and the media finally gives Theo the courage to acknowledge her other problems as well, and she tells her parents that she needs additional treatment for anorexia.

Critical Evaluation

One of this novel's most effective techniques lies in the author's gradual revealing of information through the use of frequent flashbacks, which has the effect of building suspense as the reader learns what happened during the weeks leading up to Donovan's disappearance. In fact, Donovan does not appear directly in the novel until the trial begins, and then only briefly, reinforcing the fact that this story is primarily concerned with Theo's growing awareness and self-esteem. Similarly, Theo's experiences as an African American student at a predominantly white school, as well as in the world of professional ballet, are unveiled slowly, so that the reader only gradually becomes aware that this feeling of displacement ties in to Theo's self-esteem issues.

Another trait that sets this novel apart from other works of contemporary young-adult fiction is the juxtaposition of the ballet studio's rarified atmosphere with that of the outside world, in which Theo and her friends casually partake of alcohol, drugs, and underage sex. It could perhaps be argued that Theo and her friends have an unrealistic amount of freedom; for instance, several of the students become openly drunk at a school dance without apparent repercussions, and Hosea's status as a drug dealer is portrayed rather matter-of-factly. On the other hand, the author's depiction of high school life is effective partially because it seems almost as removed from "real life" as is the ballet world, a feeling that may resonate with young-adult readers.

Ultimately, this novel's greatest strength may be Theo's narrative voice. She is an unreliable narrator, not in the sense that she is deliberately lying to the reader or to herself, but rather that she starts with a skewed perception of the world and has to learn to view things as they really are. Theo's poignant memories of Chris holding her after sex and explaining to her with fake earnestness why they needed to keep their love a secret, effectively convey how he ruthlessly took advantage of a child's vulnerability and eagerness to please. Fortunately, although Theo's future as a professional dancer is not definitively ensured, the reader can take comfort in the fact that justice has been served and Theo has learned how to be true to herself.

Further Reading

  • Bircher, Katie. Review of Pointe, by Brandy Colbert. Horn Book Magazine, July/Aug. 2014, pp. 88–89. Literary Reference Center, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lfh&AN=96679492&site=lrc-live. Accessed 9 Jan. 2016.
  • Review of Pointe, by Brandy Colbert. Kirkus, 1 Mar. 2014, p. 107. Literary Reference Center, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lfh&AN=94734642&site=lrc-live. Accessed 9 Jan. 2016.
  • Review of Pointe, by Brandy Colbert. Publishers Weekly, 10 Feb. 2014, p. 91. Literary Reference Center, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lfh&AN=94446775&site=lrc-live. Accessed 9 Jan. 2016.
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