Reeni’s Turn

Car­ol Coven Grannick

  • Review
By – April 19, 2021

Bal­let is eleven-year-old Reeni Rosenbloom’s pas­sion and has been since she was young. When she dances, Reeni feels free; her wor­ries van­ish as she con­cen­trates on pre­cise move­ment and fol­lows the sounds of the music. When Reeni’s instruc­tor, Ms. Allie, announces her retire­ment, she asks Reeni to dance the solo in her final recital. Though flat­tered, Reeni fears per­form­ing in front of an audi­ence and envi­sions her­self falling onstage. Reeni’s anx­i­eties are com­pound­ed by her frag­ment­ing home life. Reeni feels hurt and aban­doned as her old­er sis­ter, Jules, pre­pares to leave for col­lege. In turn, she push­es Jules away, feel­ing resent­ful of her life spent in the shad­ows” — Jules so fre­quent­ly takes the spot­light. Reeni also adjusts to the awk­ward expe­ri­ences of sixth-grade life. She becomes increas­ing­ly aware of and uncom­fort­able with her appear­ance, envy­ing her friends’ slim­mer frames. As diet­ing insid­i­ous­ly creeps into her life, Reeni con­nects with oth­er body-obsessed girls at school, despite her best friend’s con­cerns. She tries to con­trol her eat­ing, fre­quent­ly berat­ing her­self for not look­ing exact­ly how she would like. But as Reeni seeks a teth­er in her unsta­ble world, her life falls into chaos. The dis­ap­prov­ing voic­es in her head get loud­er and begin to seep into every aspect of her life, impact­ing her rela­tion­ships with fam­i­ly and friends.

Soon, Reeni’s true love — bal­let — is threat­ened. She must come to terms with her choic­es. Reeni’s Turn explores the uni­ver­sal­ly dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances around grow­ing up and strug­gles with body image in a way that read­ers will find relat­able. There is sig­nif­i­cant Jew­ish con­tent in the book; Reeni’s fam­i­ly cel­e­brates Shab­bat and oth­er hol­i­days, and Reeni even express­es how danc­ing evokes emo­tion that par­al­lels what she expe­ri­ences at Yom Kip­pur services.

Reeni’s pas­sion for bal­let is tan­gi­ble, and her dis­com­fort as she tries to com­bat the phys­i­cal and emo­tion­al changes in her life are por­trayed in a painstak­ing­ly hon­est man­ner. The author makes a very dif­fi­cult top­ic acces­si­ble with­out min­i­miz­ing its sig­nif­i­cance. Reeni’s Turn pro­vides an oppor­tu­ni­ty for a vari­ety of mean­ing­ful discussions.

Writ­ten entire­ly in verse, Car­ol Coven Grannick’s prose is ele­gant and impact­ful. Not one word is wast­ed in this heart­felt sto­ry. Reeni will stay with read­ers long after the last page is read.

Jil­lian Bietz stud­ied library tech­nol­o­gy and research skills and cur­rent­ly works in the library sys­tem. She is a book review­er for the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and Kirkus Review Indie. Jil­lian lives in South­ern California.

Discussion Questions