Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ten Cents a Dance : A Review

1941 Chicago is the backdrop for this fantastic teen novel. Ruby Jacinski works her fingers to the bone stuffing hogs feet into jars in a factory until she meets Paulie, who tells her about an opportunity as a taxi dancer. Trading in her brine-soaked rags for glamorous gowns, she’s soon out all night dancing with men for money. Her mother would not approve, so Ruby says she’s working as a telephone operator at night, and in the afternoons claims to be going to the movies with a friend when in fact she’s spending the time with Paulie in the back seat of his lime green convertible. She knows her double life can’t go on forever, but she loves finally having good food on the table and coal to heat their apartment, not to mention the nice clothes and nights out at after-hours jazz clubs.

I’d never heard of taxi dancing before, nor had I ever read a book with this setting. That alone was enough to make it compelling, but Ruby was such an understandable and likeable character that I felt very invested in her story. I wanted the best for her, but worried about her decisions. She grew a lot during the course of the novel and I was really happy about how things went for her, or rather, how she made things go for herself. She was an independent young woman who didn’t depend on others to take care of her, and who learned from her mistakes and made the best of what she had.

The icing on the cake was the awesome use of period slang which I enjoyed throughout the book. Christine Fletcher did a thorough job of bringing this time period to life and making it real to the modern day reader. Definitely pick up a copy of this book if you haven't read it yet.

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