Summer Reading 2014

Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem

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Character Analysis

Marina Dukovskaya is the protagonist of the book. She is a teen who deals with her challenging life through dance (ballet). She is a young Russian ballerina, a student of the Bolshoi Academy. Her mother, Svetlana Dukovskaya, is an international star. She encounters a mysterious second sight and becomes preoccupied with exposing a terrible state secret, then disappears. From then on, Marina and her father, Viktor Fydorevich Dukovsky who is a biologist, flee from the Bolshoi and escape to travel first to Europe and then Brighton Beach in New York, Brooklyn. Marina then has to fit into the ballet world of New York. Marina finds Americans to seem peculiar since they smile with their mouths open and stand up at parties. She struggles to learn English, have a place in Lincoln Center and become accustomed to the American teenage life, whilst agonizing over her mother's fate. Music and dance play an important role in Marina's life while going through her daily hardships.
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Literary Elements

The setting takes place in 1982, a time of ruthless bureaucracy. It takes place in Russia, opening in Moscow with Brezhnev's death, then New York. The theme of this book from the way Marina makes it seem, would most likely be that, music can help and reach out to us when were at our darkest and scariest parts of our life and somehow connect us not only to ourselves, but also people around us. This can be compared to when Ben and Marina listen to music for the first time together.


This book was okay, and I would recommend it to people who enjoy reading books based on historical events. The twist of having some mystery involved also helps getting people intrigued. It is not lengthy, and is pretty easy to understand besides certain words in Russian, which can be looked up. At first this book as not of my interest, but it kept getting better as you get into more of what goes on in Marina's life.