Tuesday, 8 October 2019

En Pointe


En Pointe by Chloe Bayliss (Pantera Press) PB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781925700756

Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

En Pointe is written by Chloe Bayliss, who many may know as an actor on Channel 9 drama series Doctor Doctor. It is a story of her life so far, from her childhood and teenage years as a serious ballet dancer, to her even more serious medical problems, then out the other side. Written for a young adult audience, this first-person account paints a picture of dreams dashed but also of the support of family and friends. Most importantly, the book is about a girl who never gives up.

The introduction outlines what the book will be about, so there are no surprises. It starts in the world of competitive, all-encompassing ballet, where Chloe trains for hours each day with one aim: to become a professional ballerina. She is aware that she is missing out on normal teenage things like kissing boys or going to parties. But it is all worth it when she is offered a place at the Washington Ballet school. It seems her dream has been realised.

The next part of the book, which is the majority, is about Chloe’s descent into illness and subsequent hospitalisation, with a disease that no one knows how to treat. Her kidneys are failing, and she is confined to a bed. She has fits, then seems to be getting better, only to get worse again. The description of the permanent tube inserted into her chest is particularly visceral. These grim details are balanced out with personal stories of what it is like to be a teenager in these circumstances such as the guy she likes who visits her in hospital and family dynamics.

The last part of the book describes Chloe’s recovery and her determination to get back to dancing and real life. A section of photos shows Chloe from her first ballet lesson aged three, through her various ballet roles, pictures of her in hospital, then finally at the Logie Awards with the Doctor Doctor cast. Chloe says in the book media release, that she was unsure whether to reveal her story, as it may affect the way people see her as an actor. However, she says she wanted to tell her story to help someone also going through a tough time. This is a book that could do just that.


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