Review: Pointe, Brandy Colbert

When I was in middle school, there was this author called Lurlene McDaniel who wrote all these books about children my age with dreadful diseases who fought courageously against them and then died. I didn’t read any of them (because ugh), but I’ve always had her pegged as the Nicholas Sparks of the YA world.

(Oh, God, has Nicholas Sparks written any YA novels yet? Let’s stop that from happening at any cost. I don’t care about the books themselves, but I don’t want to read the sanctimonious interviews Nicholas Sparks would certainly give about how his books are different from all the other existing YA books and why it’s important for young people to have books like his. God how I hate Nicholas Sparks. Now that we’ve all forgotten about Kathleen Hale and John Grisham, I believe the time is right for Nicholas Sparks to say something unforgivable and us all to get really mad at him.)

So a lot of girls who weren’t crazy about reading in general would read these Lurlene McDaniel books, and my friends and I felt very superior to them because we were reading more awesome and intellectually demanding stuff like Ender’s Game. This is the same way I felt about all the other seventh-grade girls having a crush on Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Leonardo diCaprio because they looked like unthreatening middle school girls, while I had a crush on Carl Anderson from Jesus Christ Superstar because he was so painfully, ferociously beautiful it scrunched my heart up into a feelingslustfeelings ball.

I feel like I don’t fully understand how a single human man can possess this much handsomeness at one time.

ANYWAY, the point of all of this is to say that I disliked, as a teen, Lurlene McDaniel’s oeuvre, and by extension I disliked any books about Teens Just Like You who were experiencing dramatic tragedies and difficult times. Although I am no longer a teen, my aversion to that type of book persists. This is why I did not care for The Fault in Our Stars as much as everyone else did. The more tightly focused a book is on teens coming to terms with a thing, the more side-eye I will give it, even when it’s really good, like Speak, a book I always rep really hard for but have never (and I realize now probably will never) reread. And it’s not because it’s too sad and I can’t bear it. It’s because I do not want to.

When I say, then, that Brandy Colbert’s Pointe was too problem-novel-y for me, this is what I mean. It reminded me of books I hate, while not containing enough of elements I love. The story is that this girl Theo, who is a dancer, had a friend disappear four years ago, around the same time her (older) boyfriend also abandoned her. Now Donovan has returned, and Theo has to come to grips with the fact that the man she was in love with at thirteen is the same person who kidnapped Donovan. She hits all the exact beats you would expect in this process before gradually realizing that she was victimized at thirteen but is now strong and tough and can move ahead with her life.

Meanwhile, the aspects of the book that drew me to it — the ballet stuff; the black protagonist living in a mostly-white area of Chicago — were generally underdeveloped. I’d have loved to have seen more of what it means to Theo and her parents for her to be in such a minority at school. I’d have loved to see more of the logistics of Theo’s struggles to go professional with her dance; apart from the requisite eating disorder and some worries about the effect of her past on her Reputation to dance companies, there’s not a ton of this. Whereas there’s a ton of Theo being like, Although I was only thirteen and he turned out to have been thirty, and although he always made me keep it a secret, the sex between us was completely consensual!, before she realizes that No! It was real rape! Colbert lays that stuff on with a trowel; and like I’ve said, that’s not my favorite thing.

Welp, this hasn’t been super positive, so let’s close on a high note with another GIF of my first love, Carl Anderson. What an attractive man he is.

He’s so tormented! And handsome!
  • Even though I don’t really read YA, I feel like I’ve seen this book all over, so it’s nice to get a different perspective on it. With all the recent talk about writing negative reviews, I think you did a great job pointing out *why* it just wasn’t your thing, which I feel like I don’t see very often, so bravo.

    • Gin Jenny

      Aw, thanks! 🙂 I try to do that when it’s a book I didn’t care for but didn’t find, like, objectionable in itself.

  • 1. Lurlene McDaniel is still in print.
    2. I am pretty sure I read a couple, because I was a pretty morbid kid I guess, but mostly I was busy getting scarred by Anne McCaffrey’s bizarro ideas about relationships as a side effect of reading all the dragon novels.
    3. I didn’t read Fault in Our Stars (I skimmed it!), largely because the first thing I thought was “Oh. It’s a hipster Lurlene McDaniel novel.” Which is probably unjust but Green’s fate does not rest on my knee-jerk reaction, so I don’t care.
    4. Your Nicholas Sparks rant is a thing of beauty.

    • Gin Jenny

      Hahahaha, I seriously giggle every time I think of your description of Fault in Our Stars. My mother thought your assessment of it is unfair but I think it is TOTALLY ON POINT.

  • Your description of the book makes me never want to read it, not that I would even if you hadn’t written about it. I too have an aversion to YA books like this which is probably why I mostly stay clear of YA books in general. Also, can we add Wally Lamb to your Nicholas Sparks list?

    • Gin Jenny

      Hahaha, sure! I haven’t read anything by Wally Lamb so I don’t know why I’m disliking him, but I’m always happy to jump on board a disliking-things train!

  • Oh no. I was one of those girls with JTT and Leo pictures pasted on the walls. But I like to think I’m making up for that now with my fierce attraction to John Malkovich.

    • Gin Jenny

      Hahahahahahahahaha, yes, you definitely are making up for it with that!

  • Does it make you feel any better to know that I’d never heard of Lurlene McDaniel before I read this post?

    • Gin Jenny

      Yes! But it makes sense. Eleanor and Walker would have been way too young for that whole trend. You’re well out of it. You’re glad you missed her. She’s nooooot great.

  • Now I can’t get that song from JesusChristSuperStar out of my head. I wonder if my parents still have the album…
    I loved that you were a book snob in Middle School. Soooo cool.
    (I had to go look up Jonathan Taylor Thomas.)
    Happy November! Thanks for the distraction from my attempts to make a screencast for my Google Drive Lesson. sigh…

    • Gin Jenny

      I love that album! I listen to it embarrassingly often. And yeah, I was a huge book snob in middle school. Not my finest hour.

      • Also, must share: I named my Ford Explorer LURLENE and everyone asks me what kind of name it is and if it is even a name. silly people.
        I was a book snob in HS. It is was made me read Les Miserables and I’m SO GLAD.

  • aartichapati

    I TOTALLY read Lurlene McDaniel growing up. I now feel a little ashamed because YOU ARE RIGHT, she TOTALLY was a Nicholas Sparks for YA back in the day. I am not very proud of my middle school reading choices. Lots of Sweet Valley High, Lurlene McDaniel and other books of the sort. At least I grew out of it…

    The whole “teens dealing with terminal death” thing is the reason I have no real desire to read The Fault in Our Stars. Or watch the movie.

    • Gin Jenny

      Ahahaha, you have nothing to be ashamed of. We all read things in middle school that wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny. I was reading A LOT of Babysitters’ Club books at that age.

  • I read way too many Lurlene McDaniel books, which resulted in me being convinced I had cancer every time I’d get an ache or pain. I was also in love with one JTT (a truth which I shake my head at.) I am DYING at your crush though. That is one glorious hunk of man, but a 7th grader crushing on him makes me laugh. Especially since you were rocking out to Jesus Christ Superstar.

    • Gin Jenny

      Ahahahaha, I am laughing hysterically at how right I was about the girls of my generation and the crushes they had on JTT. But yeah, Carl Anderson. He was my first love. I still have such a crush on him.

  • Dude, I avoided YA for years upon years because I Did Not Want to read about people my age who struggled with Teen Issues and Very Bad Times. I don’t recall ever so much as reading the jacket copy on a Lurlene McDaniel book, so I had no idea what they were actually about, but I avoided them because I could sense they’d contain this sort of story.

    Good call, Past Memory.

    I might have given this book I go if I’d never read your review, since I always hope Teen Issues-type books will surprise me, but I did read your review so I think I’ll just keep on reading books about space battles and stuff.

    • Gin Jenny

      REALLY good call, Past Memory! I am the same about Teen Issues-type books. I started reading another one this weekend and then skipped to the end, and the end was so unbelievably stupid that I gave it up. I’m reading a YA ghost story instead. It’s real creepy so far.

  • I haven’t heard of Lurlene McDaniel but I don’t like such YA books either unless they are dystopia, which I like just because they are dystopia. And I hope too that Nicholas Sparks doesn’t write YA books.

    • Gin Jenny

      Right? It would be awful. We’d have to endure the books AND the movies that would get made of the books. Ghastly notion.

  • I have never even heard of Lurlene McDaniel, but I feel similarly about A Fault in Our Stars. I survived it on nostalgia because I spent half of high school in Indianapolis and when they weren’t in group meetings and hospitals, the characters were hanging out in places I used to go and doing the kinds of things I used to do. I think it’s a book that knows its audience, which makes it a good book for actual young adults but not such a good book for grownups.

    • Gin Jenny

      I can see that. My mother read it and liked it a lot — way more than me — so I dunno. It’s at least not at all MY type of book. (Meanwhile, I crazy loved Eleanor and Park, which is not UN-problem-novel-y. It’s weird.)