- Age Range: 12 and up
- Grade Level: 7 - 12
- Hardcover: 208 pages
- Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (March 8, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375828966
- ISBN-13: 978-0375828966
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,295,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Last Dance on Holladay Street Hardcover – March 8, 2005
Gr. 8-11. After the death of her loving, black foster parents in 1878, Eva, 13, makes her way to Denver, Colorado, in search of her birth mother, who turns out to be a white prostitute working in a brothel. For a time Eva shares a room with her half-sister in the whorehouse, where they earn their keep by dancing with the town's miners, carpenters, and cowhands. After Eva is told to work "upstairs," she runs away. On her journey, she encounters extraordinary kindness and danger (she even fights off a mountain lion by sticking her fingers in its eyes), but more than the perilous adventure, what drives the story is the authentic view of women in the old west. There's no detail about the sex in the brothel, just a strong sense of community among the desperate workers, and the triumph of a brave young woman who escapes to find real work and a home. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
From the Inside Flap
The year is 1878, and 13-year-old Eva has lost all the family shes ever known. Eva feels like an orphanbut shes not. Sadie Lewis, the woman who gave her up at birth, is alive and well in Denver. And Eva sets out to find her, carrying only an address on a slip of paper.
But Denver holds more surprises than Eva can bear. When she reaches 518 Holladay Street, she discovers Sadie Lewiss shocking secreta secret that lands Eva in a house of ill repute, forced to dance with strangers for her keep. But Eva knows in her bones that shes freeand that shes got to escape. In a novel that pulses with the sights, sounds, and wild dangers of the frontier West, Elisa Carbone explores the many faces that family, and freedom, can take.
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Even though I'm a 44-year-old woman, I found myself admiring 13-year-old Eva and thinking what a good mentor she is. To say she doesn't have an easy time of things is an understatement. But Eva is wise on many levels and she grows wiser by the end of this book. She not only helps herself, but she also brings others up along with her. She will be an inspiration to young readers.
Carbone's book is set in the Wild West, and deals with some harsh truths. But parents and/or librarians shouldn't be put off by this: the material is handled extremely sensitively. There is no attempt to capitalize on violence or salaciousness. The brothel setting, instead of being titillating, encourages the reader to consider why these women had ended up in such a situation, either through their own choice or through lack of choice. Does Eva want this sort of life for herself? Does she want to see her mother or half-sister continue in such a condition?
Marcus Aurelius, one of my favourite philosophers, said you needed to look things in the face and know them for what they are. That's what this book does, and it does it in an historically accurate and inspiring way.
In this novel, one can find the realism missing from the almost fantastic tradition of Western fiction. Carbone's novel is full of harsh realities. The heroine Eva takes them blow by blow. When her adoptive parents die on the farm, she is suddenly alone, and must fend for her in Denver where she is preyed on by the prostitution system and later preyed on by a mountain lion. Surely, life in the West is a struggle for the freedom and audacity.
Although this book tells of reality of the West, it does not loose the epic, tall-tale quality that makes Westerns so alluring. Eva never ceases to be amazed by her surroundings and stumbles form one adventure to another. Although life is hard for the mixed-raced female Eva, like all heroines, beats the system, never loosing focus.
Certainly, in THE LAST DANCE ON HOLLADAY STREET, Carbone combines historical realism with Western adventure to present a new look at the West that all adolescents are sure to enjoy.