Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher Review

"With her mother ill, it’s up to fifteen-year-old Ruby Jacinski to support her family. But in the 1940s, the only opportunities open to a Polish-American girl from Chicago’s poor Yards is a job in one of the meat packing plants. Through a chance meeting with a local tough, Ruby lands a job as a taxi dancer and soon becomes an expert in the art of “fishing”: working her patrons for meals, cash, clothes, even jewelry. Drawn ever deeper into the world of dance halls, jazz, and the mob, Ruby gradually realizes that the only one who can save her is herself.  A mesmerizing look into a little known world and era."

Okay, it is the 1940s. It is almost, almost World War II. Ruby Jacinski claims to be sixteen and dances with lonely men who pay ten cents a dance with her. She earns fifty dollars a week (big money at that time) while learning the strange world of darkness and malice. What Ruby does (which is sort of legal) is only a tad closer to prostitution (which is illegal). 

Little did Ruby know that she is about to be pulled into the dark side. Paulie, her boyfriend, is the bad boy of the neighborhood. Ruby quickly finds herself in love with him. But did he return it to her? Well, I'll answer that question. He likes her, but he isn't that lovable. In reality, they are more like in an abusive relationship. Isn't that a bummer?

Ten Cents a Dance is a dark book. Even though it is in the darker times of the previous century, it still had a few things to teach. One, make sure you never go near a bad boy. They aren't good or healthy for you (just look at Patch; he nearly got Nora killed). Two, you should always tread carefully when it is dark. Three, always tell someone. Four, make sure the person you love isn't with the mob or someone who wants to be a hit man. Six, never never go to the dark side unless you want to die.

Ruby is certainly one caring character. Her innocence and sweetness towards situation is always apparent. It slowly disappears, but it is still there. By the end of Ten Cents a Dance, you'll be able to see how much she has grown. From making deals with the mob to realizing what she has become, Ruby is one perfectly flawed character who makes good and bad choices but has, most importantly of all, hope.

The story of Ten Cents a Dance is rather scary. There is the mob. There is patrons who want more than a dance. And for a while, I even thought that Ruby would be dragged into that world for more money. That thirst to shop and for more money (just for more) was scary enough that it drove the plot on for awhile. Then Paulie keeps on popping in and out of the story, so that was weird (a terrible part of the story, I'll admit). There were a few things that were surprising. I was kept on my toes for most of the book, but there wasn't enough suspense to get my heart racing (and yes, that is possible).

Overall, I think Ten Cents a Dance is good for a history buff, but it isn't great fiction. I mean, the writing is a bit dry and emotions are hard to come through. It wasn't boring. It was just dry like sand.

Rating: Three out of Five

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