Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ten Cents A Dance

Ten Cents A Dance

Author: Christine Fletcher

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Pages: 356

Read Time: 3 Days

Rating (1-5): 4

Tag Words: 1940’s, WWII, Professional Dancer, Coming of age, growing up too fast, a fast lifestyle, Bad Boys, secrets, gangsters, the Mob

My Summary:

Ruby Jacinski has just been sentenced to a life of shame, toil and minimum wage in 1940’s Chicago.

Shanae Grimes, my Ruby Jacinski
As a beautiful Irish girl working to support her mother and sister Ruby jumps at the chance of a lifetime- get out of the Yards and work for Ten Cents A Dance every night at the Starlight Dance Academy, as Paulie Suelze suggests.

You know what they say: Bad Boys and Secrets are both hard to keep...

My Review:

I want to start with the “Behind the Story” bits before I jump into my review. Christine wrote this story after learning about a Great Aunt who was a mistress of a Mobster, and a Taxi Dancer to boot. The shame that her Aunt felt, and the was her family turned their backs on her haunted Christine into telling Ruby’s story. Ruby is not her Aunt, but is a perfect example of one of the most infamous and misunderstood professions of the mid-nineteen hundreds.

I had been wanting to read this book for years when I finally opened to page one and the wait was worth it. I am so glad to have known Ruby and seen her coming-of-age. Though this story is unique to the character, the time period and the profession, many modern teens may be able to identify with Ruby’s struggles, her growing up too fast and her painful relationship with Paulie.

I congratulate Fletcher for creating a moral-struggle and a fear of right, or wrong in Ten Cents A Dance. Ruby’s inner struggle is far more than just live or die, it’s joy or depression, love or loneliness, and ultimately shame or shame.

There is brilliance in the darkest times of Ruby Jacinski.

Notes on the Names: Ruby, Betty, Peggy, Gabby, Yvonne, all perfect names for the time! Ophelia is the stunner though, it shines as brightly as the sun in my mind.

Thoughts on the Cover: The hardback cover never thrilled me, it was nice, sure, but the paperback cover really makes me gasp! The models, the stance and the lighting are a perfect companion to the text.

Parental Book Review *spoilers*

Sexual Content:


No sex scenes described, though they happen.

The most frequently described is when men, or Paulie, would touch Ruby’s breast, or her backside.

Tom, a married “Fish,” tries to force Ruby into paying him back for the money he gives her with sex. She gets away.





Paulie beats Ruby up once and tells people “It’s alright, she’s my wife.” (The pig.)

Ruby takes Paulie down with a upper-cut so hard he pukes his guts out. (Go Ruby!)

Paulie tells Ruby he kills a man for money and a car.

Other Notables:

Black, Filipino and Asian peoples were still treated with disgust in these times. The terms “Negro,” "Pinoy" and “Flips” are used.

Paulie steals dresses for Ruby.

Gabby and Yvonne promise men sexual favors, make them pay up front and leave secretly.

Yvonne is always bullying Ruby, and Ruby reciprocates in the end.


Sarah Lydia said...

I love reading about the Mob! Thanks for introducing me to this new book

Beth S. said...

I really appreciate when you rate the amount of violence and sexual content a book has. I teach 6th grade so I can sometimes get away with putting YA books in my classroom library, but not often. By knowing in advance if there's a lot of sex, violence, swearing, etc, I can immediately know whether or not to include the book in my classroom.


Dazzling Mage said...

I loved the story behind this novel too! It is an amazing time.