Cover Reveal: Turning Point by Paula Chase
I’ve always thought one of my author super powers was titling my books. The vibe of a book usually speaks to me and the title springs from that vibe. I have successfully (in my opinion) named seven books and had no reason to think that my streak would end. Then in walks, Turning Point.
The original title was Good Girls. I was exploring what that term means to some people and how it plays, not only on how girls see themselves, but also how they want others to perceive them. Playing nice, after all, has long been the international formula for raising girls into…you got it – Good Girls.
When my publisher informed me that there was another book by that title, in the pipeline, I was at a loss. My streak was at risk. Couldn’t there be two Good Girls published?
Woe is me. First world author problems.
Then she came to the rescue with the suggestion of Turning Point. We purposely did not add the “e” on the end, despite ballet being a central part of the story. I didn’t want to be that cheeky and, also, ballet is only central to one of the characters.
I love the new title. It gets at the essence of the story directly, in a way that Good Girls did not. And, it allowed the artist, Joelle Murray, to convey it so beautifully. The purple and blue gorgeously light up their different paths, while the shadowy black adds a level of maturity that I hope will speak to those readers, ages 13-15, who are too often lost in the middle of traditional middle grade and young adult.
Then – and this may be my favorite part of the cover – there are the two characters, Rasheeda and Monique, in silhouette. I know, by just looking at them, that they are Black girls. How? How do I know this?
It’s Rasheeda’s fuzzy braids. It’s the thick curve of Mo’s thighs. It’s the shape of their nose and lips. Because a lot of the Black girls, in my life and around me, are shaped like the two of them and/or have hair like Sheeda’s.
I am here for every cover that can get this right, without having to splash an actual Black face on the cover. Here.For.It.
If you’re familiar with my work, you know that I write friendship stories. I used to struggle when people asked, what my books were about and then I realized – well, they’re all about friendships.
In Turning Point, I’ve sent Mo and Sheeda on different paths for the summer. Mo is attending a ballet summer intensive, while Sheeda is stuck home, to her dismay, with only her friends from church to pass the time away.
The reader will find themselves steeped in ballet’s traditions, alongside Mo who feels othered in nearly every way. From her lack of knowledge of those traditions to the clothes she wears as warmups. She’s a Black girl who, to this point, has gone to predominately Black schools and has not been required to navigate White spaces.
Then there’s Sheeda, who’s being raised by a self-righteous aunt that finds just about everything and everyone, who isn’t a member of their church, problematic. The last thing Sheeda wants is to spend her summer with church friends and no shelter from her aunt’s many rules. To reduce the boredom, she takes her acquaintance with Mo’s brother to a new level and finds herself in a tough spot.
In Turning Point, the lens focuses high above Mo and Sheeda’s friendship and the relationships they enter while apart. It’s a story about how time away from friends can change our view of ourselves and our existing bonds. And how that time can strengthen our self-esteem or crack it.
Paula Chase is the co-founder of the award-winning blog, The Brown Bookshelf and the author of critically acclaimed middle grade novel, So Done. Chase is an Inclusion Jedi who works for inclusion of and increase in broader reflection and representation of the Black experience in children’s literature. She also advocates for attention to readers lost in the middle and is dedicated to working with publishing and educators to ensure that literature showcasing younger characters navigating complex issues, be better promoted and accessible.
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