Partly based on the author's own experiences at the famous Manhattan high school for the performing arts, this novel explores friendship, freedom, and the art of challenging convention.Set in New York in the 1980s, this story of two ballet dancers (one American, one Russian) recounts the unforgettable night they spend in the city, and celebrates the friendship they form despite their cultural and political differences.
Each day when high school sophomore Rose and her brother leave their house, they debate whether the men on their street corner are KGB or CIA they live next to a Soviet apartment compound in New York City s Riverdale neighborhood in 1982. The tense cold war setting (talk about commies and the possibility of nuclear war are commonplace) is a fitting backdrop for the interpersonal dramas that run through Castellucci s (The Queen of Cool) pensive story. Rose is lonely and introspective after being abandoned by her former best friend, but when she meets Yrena, her intriguing 16-year-old Russian neighbor, it s the start of an awakening. Like Rose, Yrena is a ballet dancer, but more than anything, Yrena is dying to be an American teenager. It s Yrena s last chance to go out in the U.S. before returning to Moscow, and she ropes Rose into making the most of it. Through Yrena s perspective, Rose begins to see her own life in a new light. Aside from a melodramatic ending, it s a quietly memorable story that hums with the energy and potential of a city after hours. Ages 12 18.