*ARC copy won in a Goodreads Giveaway
Turning is set to be released March 1, 2022.*
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Recommend to Others?: Yes
ABOUT: In this raw, searingly honest debut young adult novel, a former aspiring ballerina must confront her past in order to move forward from a devastating fall that leaves her without the use of her legs.
Genie used to fouetté across the stage. Now the only thing she’s turning are the wheels to her wheelchair. Genie was the star pupil at her exclusive New York dance school, with a bright future and endless possibilities before her. Now that the future she’s spent years building toward has been snatched away, she can’t stand to be reminded of it—even if it means isolating herself from her best friends and her mother. The only wish this Genie has is to be left alone.
But then she meets Kyle, who also has a “used to be.” Kyle used to tumble and flip on a gymnastics mat, but a traumatic brain injury has sent him to the same physical therapist that Genie sees. With Kyle’s support, along with her best friend’s insistence that Genie’s time at the barre isn’t over yet, Genie starts to see a new path—one where she doesn’t have to be alone and she finally has the strength to heal from the past.
But healing also means confronting. Confronting the booze her mother, a recovering alcoholic, has been hiding under the kitchen sink; the ex-boyfriend who was there the night of the fall and won’t leave her alone; and Genie’s biggest, most terrifying secret: the fact that the accident may not have been so accidental after all.
REVIEW: Turning left me speechless. This raw, achingly beautiful story of a promising, black ballerina’s uphill battle to reclaim herself after a fall leaves her paralyzed and wheelchair-bound.
Genie is devastated, angry, and depressed. Dance was her everything. Now, she’s left adrift, lost without her identity, and struggling to come to terms with her new normal. There’s more to her accident that she’s closely guarding that makes dealing with the demons of her past in her present extremely painful.
It wasn’t easy to read this heartbreaking story. Some characters, including Genie, didn’t know how to exist in the After of Genie’s fall. I like that we get a well-rounded view of other characters’ thoughts and feelings. Moreso, major injuries like Genie’s sometimes take a village to recover from. But ultimately, Genie must decide what she wants and who she wants to be going forward.
Genie trying to navigate through toxic intimate and familial relationships were honestly heart-wrenching. You can see clearly how much those relationships have affected her mental health in the past and continue to do so in the present. Many setbacks occur in order to wade through those murky waters and rekindle relations with those who deep down loved and supported her and refused to give up on her.
Genie’s character growth is slow, arduous, and deftly developed. I couldn’t help but feel so proud of all the breakthroughs (mighty baby steps!) she experiences as she begins to heal. To escape the despair, move past the anger, and see that dreams and a future are still possible.
It was hard to put into words everything I thought and felt while reading this amazing book. This review may not do it justice and there’s probably some things I’m forgetting to mention. But I can say without a doubt that I loved this book.
I loved Genie’s character. I especially loved Kyle and the relationship he and Genie built together. And I loved the intensity and joy this remarkable story evokes. Joy L. Smith’s Turning is a must-read, memorable debut!
CW: trauma, toxic relationships