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Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy Hardcover – August 13, 2013
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up–Marina studies as a dancer in the Soviet Union's prestigious ballet corps. Her mother's role as the prima ballerina of the company gives her family a certain prestige most Russians would love. Unfortunately, living in the spotlight also means that when Sveta stumbles on some important government information, she is taken away. When Marina and her father learn that Sveta is being detained, they flee the country with not much more than the clothes on their backs, landing in the Brighton Beach area of Brooklyn. Overwhelmed by culture shock, they find that the Russian mafia controls most of the area. Marina and her father try to adapt; she makes some friends at school and gets an audition at Julliard while her father finds a job as a driver. Things seem better for a while, except for his continuing insistence that someone is spying on them. This compounds the troubling visions Marina continues to have; at one point she “sees” her father's death at the hands of a shadowy someone. Is it Sergei, her handsome dance partner? Could it be one of the crooks who constantly seems to be following her father? The story starts slowly but picks up speed as it moves to an unexpected conclusion. The descriptions of the former Soviet Union in the mid-1980s give some fascinating background information but might not be enough for readers who lack the historical perspective. The twists and turns, as Marina tries to decide whom she can really trust, keep readers guessing right up to the end, just as a good spy novel should.–Diana Pierce, formerly at Leander High School, TXα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Marya is a talented dancer like her mother, Sveta, but they are government pets in a strictly controlled society full of secrecy, where one small misstep can lead to sudden and permanent consequences. When their ruler dies and Sveta vanishes, Marya and her father plot an escape. But this is not a dystopian fantasy. Marya lives in Moscow in 1982, and like many Jews during the Cold War, she and her father immigrate to Brooklyn, settling in Little Odessa under assumed names. When Marya’s uncle Gosha arrives, bringing with him a suitcase full of potentially dangerous secrets, Marya weighs the value of the information against the ease of staying under the radar, all the while doubting her father’s grip on reality. But in a world where nothing makes sense, what is sanity? Despite the dire circumstances, Marya’s passion for music and desire for a normal teenage life shine through. Flipping through new record albums is just as suspenseful and full of discovery as a chase scene with guns drawn. This atmospheric, suspenseful story is one of devotion and deception, innocence and independence, friendship and love, music and dance, immigration and coming of age. With its language and overall sense of unease, this debut should have multifaceted appeal. Grades 8-11. --Heather Booth