“Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy” Elizabeth Kiem

Rated 1 star * 2013. Soho Press. 264 pp.

DancerDaughterTraitorSpyIt is 1982, and the Soviet Union is alive and well. Marina Dukovskaya is on her way to becoming an established ballerina just like her mother Sveta had been when she was in her prime. Sveta is still held in high esteem by government officials, and is an important part of their propaganda machine. Despite managing to hide her strange proclivity to see visions of the past, when one of those visions reveals a dark state secret covered up by Soviet officials years ago, Sveta is arrested and imprisoned.

Knowing the KGB (Russian Secret Police) will be after them, Marina and her father are forced to leave their pampered lives and defect to a shabby Brooklyn apartment in Brighton Beach. Using assumed identities, they try to blend into their new lives but Marina’s father is not happy. In his naivete he is sure Sveta will be released by the KGB if he can provide proof of her revelations.

Unfortunately Sveta’s state secrets are also wanted by the Russian Mob, the FBI and the CIA, with each having their own reasons for wanting to place their hands on this data. Thus, instead of returning to her previous life as a ballerina, Marina and her new friend Ben find themselves in the midst of murder, intrigue, spies and national secrets. To complicate matters, Marina starts to get visions of her own…

Readers aged 12-16 who like ballet and want to learn more about what the U.S.S.R. was like in 1982 may find “Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy” interesting, but I found it to be not so interesting. There wasn’t anything especially riveting about it, and the numerous Russian words would have been better appreciated if the book included definitions and a pronunciation guide. It was also unnecessary to have a storyline revolve about Sveta and Marina’s “visions,” as a story of Russians defecting from Mother Russia could have stood alone without it.

So I leave it up to you to decide if You Should Read It or Not.


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