Unique, often fascinating view of contemporary (though pre-glasnost) Soviet life by an appealing, articulate young writer--now an American citizen living in New Jersey--who arrived in the US in 1980 at the age of 17. Young presents a picture of Russian children pampered by doting families--to the occasional distress of teachers and old-timers who remember the sacrifices of the past and decry the lack of commitment in the generation. The daughter of educated Jewish professionals, Katya attended a special school requiring an admissions exam. (A quota system reserved at least some places for working-class children but elitism was pronounced: workers' children had a difficult social adjustment and often showed behavior problems.) Her account, rich in Russian humor, includes personal views of: the infamous shortages and lines for food and consumer goods; alcoholism; regular political meetings; required "volunteer" duty without pay; literature and entertainment. Young's own family was unusual: her freethinking parents shared their views with her from an early age. She assumed at first that everyone played the amusing game of saying one thing publicly while thinking another; disillusion set in when she realized that seemingly cynical friends who coveted all things Western would not entertain any real doubts of the system. Though her passion for individual freedom made Young a Soviet misfit, and she has plenty to criticize, her tone is humane and often humorous, making this a pleasant as well an an eye-opening tale.