Pointe, Claw

  • Interest Level: Grade 8 - Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 5

Jessie Vale dances in an elite ballet program. She has to be perfect to land a spot with the professional company. When Jessie is cast in an animalistic avant-garde production, her careful composure cracks wide open.

Meanwhile, her friend Dawn McCormick’s world is full of holes. She wakes in strange places, bruised, battered, and unable to speak. The doctors are out of ideas.

These childhood friends are both running out of time. At every turn, they crash into the many ways girls are watched, judged, used, and discarded. Should they play it safe or go feral?

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Interest Level Grade 8 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 5
Genre Young Adult
Category Diverse Books: Feminism, Diverse Books: LGBTQIA+, Diverse Books: Mental Health & Neurodiversity, Diversity
Copyright 2017
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Lab ®
Language English
Number of Pages 288
Publication Date 2017-04-01
Text Type Fiction—Science Fiction/Fantasy
BISACS YAF022000, YAF047010, YAF058220
Dewey [Fic]
Dimensions 5.5 x 8.25
Lexile 620
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Awards, Reviewed, and Starred Reviews

Author: Amber J. Keyser

Evolutionary biologist-turned-author Amber J. Keyser has a MS in zoology and a PhD in genetics. She writes both fiction and non-fiction for tweens and teens. Her young adult novels include Pointe, Claw (Carolrhoda Lab, 2017), an explosive story about two girls claiming the territory of their own bodies, and The Way Back from Broken (Carolrhoda Lab, 2015), a heart-wrenching novel of loss and survival (and a finalist for the Oregon Book Award). She is the co-author with Kiersi Burkhart of the middle grade series Quartz Creek Ranch (Darby Creek, 2017). Her nonfiction titles include The V-Word (Beyond Words/SimonTeen, 2016), an anthology of personal essays by women about first-time sexual experiences (Rainbow List, Amelia Bloomer list, New York Public Library Best Book for Teens and Chicago Public Library Best Nonfiction for Teens) and Sneaker Century: A History of Athletic Shoes (Twenty-First Century Books, 2015), among numerous other titles. Her forthcoming books include Tying the Knot: A World History of Marriage (Twenty-First Century Books, 2018) and Underneath It All: The History of Women's Underwear (Twenty-First Century Books, 2018). More information at www.amberjkeyser.com. Connect with Amber on Twitter @amberjkeyser.


  • Booklist Top 10 Arts Books for Youth, Winner, 2017


Novel Novice


If you’re like me, you’ve been feeling angry a lot lately. And I do mean a lot.
I suspect this anger is something I carry with my always – but usually it’s buried pretty deep. But with so many headlines lately about men in power being accused finally of their wrongdoings – and so many Dude Bros being grossly defensive and doubtful – that anger isn’t buried at all. It’s raging.
And while I usually read to escape the world – give me something fluffy or fantasy most any day – sometimes, you want a book that channels your anger and helps you define it and better understand it.
These are the books that have done that for me this year. Then keep reading for some recommendations from these authors, plus a chance to share YOUR recommendations.
We’re all in this together.

Pointe, Claw by Amber J. Keyser "

The Horn Book Magazine

“Keyser insightfully explores the myriad ways young women are caged and preyed upon in our society; her protagonists first subvert and then shatter these roles. . . . [W]ill leave readers unsettled long after the final page is turned.”—The Horn Book Magazine


“It is a book of contrast and counterpoint . . . . Lines blur as the story develops, save for the knife-sharp ferocity of two young women locked in an empowering duet.”—starred, Booklist

Publishers Weekly

“Keyser’s writing shimmers with raw emotion and empathy, and her finale, much like in dance, is poetic, bittersweet, and life affirming.”—starred, Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

“The narrative is appropriately dark . . . [and] viscerally evokes struggles of modern teenagers in a brutally authentic manner.”—Kirkus Reviews

Brie Spangler

“[A brilliant] story of pain and wonder between two girls straddling the edge of body and mind.”—Brie Spangler, author of Beast