cover image ON POINTE

ON POINTE

Lorie Ann Grover, Author . S&S/McElderry $16.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-689-86525-1

Grover (Loose Threads ) brings an air of authenticity to this well-wrought free-verse novel about a girl's passion for ballet. Clare has studied for 10 grueling years; now she is spending the summer at her grandfather's, to be closer to her all-consuming classes at Ballet Conservatory, in western Washington. Pressure mounts as she and the other students anticipate the imminent auditions for City Ballet, which has just 16 openings. Grover, who in her teens was a member of the Miami Ballet Company, expertly captures the mood of the students as they privately obsess about their abilities and bodies, always competing. Clare sweats out a difficult move: " 'Good extension, Willow,'/ Madame croons./ My leg shakes violently/ while I stare/ at Willow's short, still leg/ poised at shoulder height." Some will do anything to keep their weight down, and almost everyone shuns Dia, whose unexpectedly voluptuous development eventually costs her all her aspirations. Clare, taller by at least four inches than all the other girls, tries to make up for her height with extra effort, but will her hard work be enough? While spelling out the physical toll of pain, bloodied feet and cramping muscles, Grover more subtly communicates the depth of the characters' ardor. She casts a knowing eye on Clare's family, especially on the mother who talks about "our" dream. While the tensions resolve in familiar ways, the limber verse will keep the audience engrossed. Ages 8-12. (June)