The disappearance of a star ballerina in Soviet Russia shatters the life of her daughter.
Bright, 17-year-old Marya is the daughter of the Bolshoi’s star ballerina and her scientist husband, and she’s a dancer herself. In the early 1980s Soviet Union, Svetlana Dukovskaya’s celebrity translates into a comfortable life for herself and her family. Indeed, she has been called a “cultural patriot of the Motherland,” and she expects Marya to follow her path. Her sudden disappearance throws Marya, and snatches of overheard conversation cause a sense of unease that is verified when Marya and her father learn Sveta has been institutionalized. Fleeing, Marya and her father settle in Brooklyn’s Little Odessa, where they attempt to get news about Sveta. Marya enrolls in high school and takes classes at Julliard and also begins a relationship with Ben, a son of Russian émigrés. Ben shares his love of music with her and becomes a source of strength, as her father and his newly arrived best friend seem caught up in intrigue. This is sophisticated storytelling with complex characterization and details that provide color and texture. The pacing is somewhat uneven, but there are enough twists to surprise and engage readers to the end.
A compelling portrait of a young woman on the verge of adulthood, caught up in the domestic secrets of her parents and the enmity of two countries. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)