Ten Cents a Dance

Christine Fletcher, Author . Bloomsbury $16.95 (356p) ISBN 978-1-59990-164-0

Inspired by the experiences of her great-aunt, Fletcher (Tallulah Falls ) imagines two years in the life of a scrappy girl from a working-class community in Chicago during WWII. Just 15 and saddled with the responsibility of supporting her ailing mother and younger sister, Ruby Jacinski quits school to work in a meatpacking factory but is soon dazzled by the prospect of earning big money as a taxi dancer (professional dance partner)—an idea she picks up from her neighborhood crush, mobster wannabe Paulie. Fletcher sustains the narrative with the ongoing tension between Ruby's buttoned-up family persona and her desire for a real romance, the glamour of dressing up and dancing to jazz, and baiting “fish” (customers) for dinner dates and money. Ruby's ability to skate away from an entanglement with an older, very crass client, a disillusioning relationship with Paulie and a brush with the mob can strain credibility; however, the depiction of Chicago nightlife in the '40s and Ruby's deft observations (“the look on his face, like the music itself had put on a dress and come up to him and said hello”) add depth and complexity. Ages 14–up. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
Paperback - 356 pages - 978-1-59990-462-7
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-59990-500-6
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