Two Book Tuesday

Two books read back-to-back where I cried my eyes out. Typical.

Title: Full Flight
Author: Ashley Schumacher
Genre: YA Contemporary  
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022
Ratings: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Summary:

Everyone else in the tiny town of Enfield, Texas calls fall football season, but for the forty-three members of the Fighting Enfield Marching Band, it’s contest season. And for new saxophonist Anna James, it’s her first chance to prove herself as the great musician she’s trying hard to be.

When she’s assigned a duet with mellophone player Weston Ryan, the boy her small-minded town thinks of as nothing but trouble, she’s equal parts thrilled and intimidated. But as he helps her with the duet, and she sees the smile he seems to save just for her, she can’t help but feel like she’s helping him with something too.

After her strict parents find out she’s been secretly seeing him and keep them apart, together they learn what it truly means to fight for something they love. With the marching contest nearing, and the two falling hard for one another, the unthinkable happens, and Anna is left grappling for a way forward without Weston.

A heartbreaking novel about finding your first love and what happens when it’s over too soon. Ashley Schumacher’s Full Flight is about how first love shapes us—even after it’s gone.

Marching band is taken very seriously in the small town of Enfield, Texas. Okay, more like for the select number of kids in the music program at Enfield High School. While most kids started their instruments in elementary or middle school, Anna has a lot to prove as a newbie to the music world. When she convinces Weston, town weirdo and genius musician to help her with their duet, she doesn’t expect to fall so hard and so quickly. As much as Weston tries to keep this girl and arms length, she manages to worm her way into his heart.

Ashley Schumacher’s debut, Amelia Unabridged, was one of my favorite books I read last year. She has an incredible way with words and writes just beautifully. She also loves to hit you were it hurts, writing emotions so vividly, I had a hangover the next morning from all my tears. Her lyrical sophomore release is no different. Through dual perspective, she tells the heartbreaking story of first love between quirky sunshine Anna and mysterious quiet Weston. Even though they fall for each other really fast, it didn’t feel that way when reading it—as if they’ve known each other all their lives. Every glance, every gesture jumps off the page. It’s really a testament to Schumacher’s writing that she can evoke readers ro feel so much, from so little.

My biggest complaint is that the big emotional turning point is pretty much spoiled in the synopsis, making me anxiously on the lookout for the inevitable, kind of taking me out of the story. Now, not everyone will read the synopsis before a book, but I am not that person. Another thing that bothers me is the qualities that make Weston “weird” in their small town: a leather jacket and divorced parents. That’s it? Give me something else that would warrant this guy to be a loner and constantly gossiped about. Despite all of that, I guarantee this intense and heartbreakingly beautiful story will make you cry, so bring on the tissues.

ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: The Turning Pointe
Author: Vanessa L. Torres
Genre: YA Historical Fiction 
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022
Ratings: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Summary:

A bold and emotionally gripping novel about a teenage Latinx girl finding freedom through dance and breaking expectations in 1980s Minnesota.

When sixteen-year-old Rosa Dominguez pirouettes, she is poetry in pointe shoes. And as the daughter of a tyrant ballet Master, Rosa seems destined to become the star principal dancer of her studio. But Rosa would do anything for one hour in the dance studio upstairs where Prince, the Purple One himself, is in the house.

After her father announces their upcoming auditions for a concert with Prince, Rosa is more determined than ever to succeed. Then Nikki–the cross-dressing, funky boy who works in the dance shop–leaps into her life. Weighed down by family expectations, Rosa is at a crossroads, desperate to escape so she can show everyone what she can do when freed of her pointe shoes. Now is her chance to break away from a life in tulle, grooving to that unmistakable Minneapolis sound reverberating through every bone in her body.

Taking place in Minnesota in the 80’s, we follow Rosa as she fights to break free from her tyrannical ballet Master father and finally move to her own beat. Rosa lives in the shadow of her perfect older sister who was supposed to be the next ballet star of their Minneapolis dance studio, but is now paralyzed after an accident that Rosa believes to be her fault. She must dance for her sister, because she no longer can. When it’s announced that none other than Prince is not only using their studio as a rehearsal space, but also auditioning students for a benefit concert, Rosa will do anything to get in front of her hero and finally dance with full abandon.

Hell of a debut! Probably one of the strongest I’ve ever read. Torres does an incredible job with exploring the grittiness of this time period. Rosa and her family don’t live in the greatest neighborhood—prostitutes, drunks, and druggies line the streets as Rosa makes her daily walks to and from the studio. The author also doesn’t shy away from showing the harsh and grotesque aspects to ballet. There is a lot of pain and guilt all throughout this story—literal and emotional. These authentic characters really shine through and the writing makes you feel fully immersed in the time period.

This is incredibly well diverse with representation from the lgbtq+, disability, Latinx communities. There are also quite a few triggers: alcoholism, queerphobia, police brutality. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this to a younger reader, but I do think this is a really important book and I hope it gets into the hands of a lot of readers.

ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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