Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy

Elizabeth Kiem. Soho Teen, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-61695-263-1
Debut novelist Kiem’s title pays apt homage to John le Carré while delineating the roles 17-year-old ballerina Marina plays throughout this dark, complicated book. Opening in Moscow with Brezhnev’s death in November 1982, the story soon moves to the “Russia by the Sea” neighborhood of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. Marina and her father escape there following the State Psychiatric Directorate’s institutionalization of her mother, Sveta, a celebrated Bolshoi dancer, who had a vision of a terrible past event the regime must keep hidden. Leaving behind a privileged lifestyle for a cramped, impoverished existence in America, Marina and her father cannot shake the suspicion and danger Sveta’s vision put them under. As Marina struggles to learn English, make a place for herself in the dance world of Lincoln Center, and acclimate to American teenage life (while keeping her identity secret), she is tormented by anxiety over her mother’s fate. The story is heavy and sometimes difficult to follow, but Kiem successfully creates the mood of the oppressive, fearful state of Communist Russia that persists outside its borders, and builds levels of intrigue that lead to a devastating climax. Ages 14–up. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/24/2013
Release date: 08/13/2013
Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-61695-264-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-4821-0158-4
Paperback - 264 pages - 978-1-61695-422-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-62460-629-8
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