Welcome to Reader vs. Reader (anyone have any wicked name suggestions???). Two librarians who have read the same book will discuss it critically. They may agree, agree on certain points, or completely disagree. RvR will challenge your reading comfort zone and dig deeply into the text to find potential problems or subtle brilliance. And maybe both.
In March, Andrea and Pam both read Up to this Pointe by Jennifer Longo.
Harper is a dancer. She and her best friend, Kate, have one goal: becoming professional ballerinas. And Harper won’t let anything—or anyone—get in the way of The Plan, not even the boy she and Kate are both drawn to.
Harper is a Scott. She’s related to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who died racing to the South Pole. So when Harper’s life takes an unexpected turn, she finagles (read: lies) her way to the icy dark of McMurdo Station . . . in Antarctica. Extreme, but somehow fitting—apparently she has always been in the dark, dancing on ice this whole time. And no one warned her. Not her family, not her best friend, not even the boy who has somehow found a way into her heart.
The Quick Reactions:
|Pam: Thumbs up with bizarre reservations. I enjoyed it, but didn’t love it and got distracted by things.||Andrea: I’m a thumbs up. While there were a couple things I didn’t like, overall, I was engaged by the book|
Snippet of our conversation (Warning: spoilers everywhere!):
Andrea: I didn’t like that Harper didn’t eat–but the author never really made it 100% she had an eating disorder
Pam: Okay, I didn’t like the eating thing at all. I am so with you on that. Yeah, she can’t build muscle in a caloric deficit. It is biologically impossible. She’s “ropy” but at the same time bony. If she is as small as she says she is to the point of not having breasts, I’d be seriously concerned about her bones. Does she have amennorhea?
Andrea: And how did she have the fuel to dance that long? I can get avoiding bad foods, but one sweet here and there, with as much as she’s dancing?!
Pam: Exactly. I remember reading an interview with Misty Copeland (personal heroine) where she said she eats clean, like lots of protein, salads, blah blah, but after a performance she carbo loads like crazy because she wants to and she can and she needs the calories
Andrea: I just googled it, reading this article now this article. They eat smart, but even they mention needing food for fuel.
Pam: What really bothered me, though, besides that, is that a) her parents totally knew and thought it was normal because she danced ballet and b) after she stopped dancing, people knew she didn’t eat but no one was concerned enough to get her therapy or treatment or whatever. I just get really touchy about this because I had/have an ED so whenever it’s portrayed as like NBD but “oh look I started eating and I have fat and boobs and cellulite” that’s not how it works. So I’m worried that girls reading this who love ballet will assume “Oh, I gain weight, if I want to dance i’d have to never eat” which if you did that and did an entire ballet routine you’d pass out from not eating. Also George Balanchine can go die again for his horrid rules on ballerina looks. I HAVE MANY THOUGHTS ABOUT DANCE. I love it, I used to do it, I knew I’d never do anything with it, but I love moving my body and being connected to it. I used to dance for 2 hours and only drink a latte and then throw that up. Yeah, energy was not good there. Sick.
Andrea: Yeah, and I think that’s the thing. I know, KNOW, there are theses attitudes in dance. So, I also think it’s realistic? Because there are girls out there doing it.
Pam: It is, but I was hoping that when Harper stopped dancing she’d have a more realistic recovery. Her thoughts about food don’t change that much, and the hallucination parts, were, I thought, due to both T3 and low body fat.
Andrea: Agree. I do like that the descriptions made it obvious she had a problem, but the recovery wasn’t fully there.
Pam: I wish that the chapter format hadn’t alternated. It was jarring b/c I knew she wouldn’t make the cut, but I wanted to know how and why she chose antarctica. That part of the book seemed a bit rushed. However, I think the author did a fantastic job evoking both Antarctica AND san fran.
Andrea: I actually liked the format! Like I knew she wouldn’t make it, but I kept wanting to read more so see what happened, even though I suspected.
Pam: Ah, see I am not good with suspense. I wish we had more of her in Antarctica.
Andrea: I think if I had it all out front I wouldn’t have cared as much. Although, I’m not sure how I feel about the pregnancy.
Pam: I agree that the pregnancy part was really bizarre. Like left field bizarre.
Andrea: I do think the baby was needed to maybe grounded her more and tie the two worlds together. So, while I didn’t like it, but I could see the good it did as well.
Pam: Mmm, true. What do you think Aiden’s purpose/motivation was? I didn’t understand when he asked her to leave with him and then dumped her? Just to show what a horrid person he was?
Andrea: I don’t get Aiden at all. Like, he wasn’t a super bad guy. Overall, his actions seemed pretty honest & so him up and leaving felt jarring to me.
Pam: Yeah, I was so surprised. I figured he was attracted to Harper but I didn’t understand his bugging out.
Andrea: I thought maybe we’d find out he got kicked out or something. I feel so cheated with him.
Pam: Absolutely. The radio shows were pretty cute, actually
Andrea: Yes, and he had some bad moments like wanting to sleep with her while she was basically drunk BUT then he brought food/drink when it didn’t happen. And that’s like the only spot where I can go HEY he’s not so cool. So, yeah, just felt really cheated by how he left.
Pam: My very favorite part of the book was when Kate and Harper tell each other off. And also the penguins.
Andrea: That was good. Yes, the penguins always win I think mine was just Owen. And his letters and his encouragement. And that folks, is the type of boy you want
Pam: NGL I kind of fell in love with him too. And how he ADMITTED he was wrong for wanting her to stay when she needed to go? Perfect.
Andrea: Yes! Like he had faults and he had issues, but he also was there to encourage Harper. And not let her give up on her dreams, even though they needed to change
Pam: Because he already kind of went through that himself, and had that knowledge but didn’t push her until she figured it out for herself
Andrea: Yup. ALSO I love that he respected her boundaries. When she asked him to back off, he did.
Pam: Yes. When I see him and then Aiden, it’s like no contest: Owen wins
Andrea: Oh hands down, but I think Aiden was her kick in the ass, which again is why I feel cheated with how he left. I wish she had chosen Owen for real.
Pam: So I guess I enjoyed it; didn’t love it, got distracted by things. It was easy to read but IDK if I’d heartily recommend it. If you want to you can put “thumbs up with bizarre reservations”.
Andrea: Still a thumbs up for me as well. It does have its flaws, but overall it’s an engaging and moving story.
Stay tuned next month when we’ll duke it out over Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman. If you have a suggestion for what a future read, please let us know!