cover image The Turning Pointe

The Turning Pointe

Vanessa L. Torres. Knopf, $18.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-593-42613-5

Set in 1983 Minneapolis, Torres’s sprawling debut is told by 16-year-old Rosa Dominguez, a passionate, Prince-obsessed Mexican American dancer whose family has recently undergone significant change. Brought up on ballet—her mother and older sister Gloria were star ballerinas, and the siblings’ father, Geno, is the Minnesota Dance Company’s tyrannical ballet master—Rosa instead longs to dance “street moves infused with funk, rock and in-your-face intentions.” When Geno dangles an opportunity to do just that on stage with Prince if she auditions for a ballet apprenticeship, Rosa agrees. She nevertheless remains engulfed by guilt about the accident that left Gloria partially paralyzed and able to speak only two words, turned their mother into Gloria’s caregiver, and precipitated the decision by Geno, who lives with an alcohol reliance, to leave the family. Meanwhile, she meets Puerto Rican Nico “Nikki” Madera, who taps to Van Halen and makes her heart race but faces his own situation. Firmly rooted in era and place, interwoven with Spanish and filled with vivid, frequently gritty, sensory details and suspenseful subplots, the novel powerfully depicts Rosa’s emotional voice, deep love for Gloria, and struggles toward understanding, acceptance, and joy. Ages 12–up. Agent: Louise Fury, Bent Agency. (Feb.)