Review: “Turning Point” by Paula Chase

Release Date: September 8, 2020
Publisher: Duet Books
Genre: Contemporary, Middle Grade



“Distance threatens to tear apart a friendship. That is, of course, if a secret doesn’t ruin it first.

Told in dual perspectives, this provocative and timely stand-alone companion to Paula Chase’s So Done and Dough Boys will resonate with fans of Jason Reynolds, Rebecca Stead, and Renée Watson.

Best friends Rasheeda and Monique are both good girls. For Sheeda, that means keeping her friends close and following her deeply religious, Bible-quoting aunt’s every rule. For Mo, that means not making waves in the prestigious and mostly White ballet intensive she’s been accepted to. But what happens when Sheeda catches the eye of Mo’s older brother, and the invisible racial barriers to success as a ballerina turn out to be not so invisible?

Paula Chase continues to explore the lives of African American middle school characters from the Cove, a low-income housing project, in this stand-alone companion to So Done and Dough Boys. Both universal and specific, Turning Point is rich with thematic threads such as racism, body image, poverty, creativity, religion, Me Too, friendship, and family running through it. A rewarding and thought-provoking read for the older middle grade audience.”


My Thoughts


Paula Chase’s Turning Point isn’t my usual reading fare. It’s middle grade realistic contemporary fiction about ballet and church. But I surprised even myself by wanting to read it.

The most challenging part of the book for me was the religious stuff. I grew up in a fundamentalist church and attended church school from kindergarten through tenth grade. It dominated my life for so long that it left a long, painful scar on my soul. Christianity made me ashamed of myself and my body. I watched it twist people I cared about into petty, close-minded bigots. Getting out of the church and letting go of believing in deities was the best and smartest thing I have ever done, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t begrudge anyone’s beliefs – you respect my lack of beliefs and I’ll respect your beliefs – but it was not a healthy relationship for me. So I’ll admit that I really struggled with the church plot line in Turning Point. That being said, the struggle was all on my end and not caused by any fault of Chase’s.

Setting aside my personal issues, the book is a great example of what Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop called “windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors.” There’s a lot of good stuff happening here that both speak to Black girls and offer insight to other lives for non-Black readers. Monique, Rasheeda, and all the other characters feel real and vibrant. They’re the kind of characters we don’t often see in middle grade fiction, so I truly appreciated them getting such good rep.

Turning Point is a must-have for school and public libraries especially.

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