Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Turning Point

Chase, Paula. Turning Point
September 15th 2020 by Greenwillow Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

This is not listed as So Done #3, but since the plot involves characters from So Done and Dough Boys, this feels like it is.

It's summer, and Monique (Mo) is conflicted about going to a prestigious summer ballet program for three weeks with fellow dancer Mila. She wants to dance, but feels that the primarily white environment isn't a good fit for her.  Rasheeda (Sheeda), on the other hand, is stuck at home for that time without her best friend, and is tired of always being dragged to church with her aunt, and would be glad of the opportunity to spend some time away from the Cove. Mo has to deal with her roommates (Katie and Brenna), with whom she doesn't always get along, intensive training where she doesn't get enough feedback, and the food at the cafeteria, which just isn't as good as it is at home. Sheeda is trying to become better friends with the other girls from church, but doesn't feel connected to them. She is exploring her relationship with Lennie, Sheeda's brother, with whom she texts frequently.
Strengths: My students are constantly asking for ballet books, so this is a great one to have on hand. I'm a big fan of books that involve some church attendance; I certainly spent a lot of time at Vacation Bible School and youth group back in the day, and very few books address this. Mo and Sheeda are both trying to figure out the middle grade balance between fitting in and standing out, to navigate friendships, and to figure out what they want, as opposed to what their families want. Throw in a little romance and some timely social themes, and this is a great book to hand to readers who want a fast paced, interesting story.
Weaknesses: I wish the cover were similar in style to the other two; my readers might not realize this book continues the story of the Cove.
What I really think: This offered some very interesting perspective on racial relations and perspectives, which are so important, especially right now. I did find Sheeda's feelings about the feedback she received from her teacher especially interesting. She was disappointed in not hearing more "good jobs" from her teacher, and did not care for the critiquing from her teacher. I do think this is a cultural difference, and I will try to be more aware of that when interacting with my students.

With the passing of my mother, I had the epiphany that if someone tells me "good job", I feel that they don't care. Even if I have done a good job, I expect to hear what wasn't successful about my endeavor. My mother was always very critical of what I did; her last understandable conversation with me was about a pie crust I made that she thought "wasn't very good". (She was right, by the way!) My mother was never unkind; she was critical because she wanted to help me get better. Anyone can tell you you "look nice", only my mother would tell me that my shoes weren't quite right or a blouse pulled a bit under the arms. I certainly tell my own daughters that they have done a good job a lot more than my parents told me, so this might be generational as well. The timing of this was interesting for me personally!

Ms. Yingling

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