Ten Cents a Dance

( 32 )

Overview

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?a girl paid ten cents to dance with any man?and soon becomes an expert in the art of "fishing" as she works her patrons for meals, clothes, even jewelry.

Drawn ever deeper into...

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Ten Cents a Dance

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Overview

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—a girl paid ten cents to dance with any man—and soon becomes an expert in the art of "fishing" as she works her patrons for meals, 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Inspired by the experiences of her great-aunt, Fletcher (Tallulah Falls) imagines two years in the life of a scrappy girl from a working-class community in Chicago during WWII. Just 15 and saddled with the responsibility of supporting her ailing mother and younger sister, Ruby Jacinski quits school to work in a meatpacking factory but is soon dazzled by the prospect of earning big money as a taxi dancer (professional dance partner)—an idea she picks up from her neighborhood crush, mobster wannabe Paulie. Fletcher sustains the narrative with the ongoing tension between Ruby's buttoned-up family persona and her desire for a real romance, the glamour of dressing up and dancing to jazz, and baiting "fish" (customers) for dinner dates and money. Ruby's ability to skate away from an entanglement with an older, very crass client, a disillusioning relationship with Paulie and a brush with the mob can strain credibility; however, the depiction of Chicago nightlife in the '40s and Ruby's deft observations ("the look on his face, like the music itself had put on a dress and come up to him and said hello") add depth and complexity. Ages 14-up. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
VOYA - Jenny Ingram
In 1941 Chicago, fifteen-year-old Ruby Jacinski trades school for work in the meat-packing plants to support her widowed, sick mother and her younger sister. Barely getting by, Ruby borrows money and clothes from a friend and attends a dance one evening where she meets Paulie, a shady young man who encourages her to work as a taxi dancer, charging ten cents per dance in a dance hall. Ruby creates a complex network of lies to hide her dubious new job and increased income from her family. World War II and her mother's remarriage bring Ruby's dance career to a sudden end, and unable to reenter her previous life as a teenage schoolgirl, Ruby leaves Chicago to support the war effort by building airplanes in California. Fletcher's depiction of taxi dancers is fair, acknowledging that some dancers were more guileless in their work than others, and she writes about sex sensibly and rationally. The descriptions of nightlife are lively and engaging, and they bring to light race, class, and gender issues in 1940s Chicago, which are fodder for discussion. Leisure readers will enjoy this novel, but it will also be useful in the classroom as a historical snapshot. Reviewer: Jenny Ingram
VOYA - Rebecca Moreland
This novel smoothly dances readers back in time to an era of jazz, boys, and a nation on the brink of war. Even decades later, many female readers will be able to relate to some of the facets of Ruby's teenage life, a time during which she is thrown into an unforgiving world and must find out her true identity. The story is rifled throughout with superb emotions and detailed descriptions. The captivating setting and engaging, complex characters make this book a must-read for more than solely fanatics of historical fiction. Reviewer: Rebecca Moreland, Teen Reviewer
Children's Literature - Suzanna E. Henshon
Have you ever dreamed of a more glamorous life than the one you have? The time is 1941, the place is Chicago, and Ruby Jacinski is a schoolgirl with "castle in the sky" dreams. When her mother becomes too ill to work, Ruby drops out of school to support the family. But she soon gets tired of working in a slaughterhouse and yearns for something more exciting. That is when Ruby runs into Paulie Suelze, the classic bad boy. Ruby discovers she can make tons of money by wearing silk and satin dresses at the Starlight Dance Academy. With a little charm and a good dance step, Ruby begins raking in plenty of cash—and her factory job becomes a thing of the past. Lonely men pay ten cents a dance to take Ruby around the dance floor at this popular night club. Ruby realizes she can help her mother and little sister move out of the Chicago tenements and into better housing. But is this what Ruby really wants? If she could be anywhere, would she be a dance hall girl in Chicago? After her mother remarries, Ruby is told she must return to school. It is back to the uniform again. At the age of sixteen, already having experienced a sophisticated world, Ruby cannot return to the girl she once was. But where does she belong now? Will she ever find her place in the world? Christine Fletcher's second novel is a dynamic spin through the streets of Chicago, the world of jazz, and the heart of an adolescent girl coming of age during the 1940s, a turbulent time in history. Reviewer: Suzanna E. Henshon, Ph.D.
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up- In 1941, Ruby Jacinski, 15, quits school and works at a meatpacking plant to support her ailing mother and her sister. Her life changes dramatically when Paulie, a handsome young man with a terrible reputation, takes an interest in her and encourages her to pursue a job at the Starlight Dance Academy. There, she can earn a lot of money, get her family out of debt, and live a more exciting life by dancing with lonely men. For someone who loves to dance, the job is a dream come true, but Ruby soon learns that it comes with a price. She lies to her mother and tries to avoid the constant hustle and manipulation from both the customers and her coworkers. As she continues to turn to Paulie for protection and advice, she gets caught up in the seedier side of Chicago's poor Back of the Yards district. This is a unique look at U.S. social history. Ruby is tough, strong, and determined, but maintains the innocent and idealistic dreams of adolescence, thus endearing her to readers. The grittier side of Chicago nightlife and the harsh pressures on wartime youth to mature quickly are well delineated. This intriguing story is well paced and well researched.-Kimberly Monaghan, formerly at Vernon Area Public Library, IL

Kirkus Reviews
Fletcher offers a hard-boiled work of historical fiction that captures America's social struggles at the beginning of World War II. Sixteen-year-old Ruby secretly works as a taxi dancer, jitterbugging with men for money, to get her family out of Chicago's slums. Ruby's neighborhood, The Yards, looms with its gritty tenements, sooty windows and ever-present stink. Like all the characters in this novel, Ruby feels cornered by circumstance and desperate to escape. As a taxi dancer, her innocence quickly fades. Right and wrong blur, her customers' kisses grow more frequent and she falls for a small-time gangster. Ruby enters a very adult world-one full of haggard broads, dirty old men, booze, jazz clubs and low-cut gowns. Many teens might not be able to follow. Ruby's nerve and sass make her a distinctive character, however, and she brings the language, rhythms and social changes of the 1940s alive. (Historical fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599904627
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 3/30/2010
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 334,994
  • Age range: 14 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Christine Fletcher grew up in California. After receiving her veterinary degree from the University of California, she lived for three years in the Great Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee. She writes, teaches, and practices veterinary medicine in Portland, OR. www.christinefletcherbooks.com

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 32 )
Rating Distribution

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(18)

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(11)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 17, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by JodiG. for TeensReadToo.com

    It is the 1940's and 15-year-old Ruby Jacinski has had to step in and support her family. Her father is dead and her mother is now too sick to work. The family has had to move to a poorer neighborhood and the only work Ruby can get is at the meat-packing plant, earning $12.25 per week. Her only escape is when she meets her friends to go dancing. <BR/><BR/>One night, Ruby's entire life changes. Tough-guy Paulie Suelze tells her how she can earn up to $50 a week. That much money could change Ruby's life. She could pay off the families grocery bill, get her mother's wedding ring out of the pawn shop, and maybe even get her mother and sister out of the Back of the Yards and into a decent house. <BR/><BR/>There is a hitch to the idea. The job isn't exactly a respectable one. She would be working as a taxi dancer, a girl who dances with men for money. For the cost of a dime, lonely men purchase the illusion of having a pretty girl who is interested in them, even if it is only for the length of a song. Since dancing is what Ruby does best, she figures there will be no problem earning that much money. <BR/><BR/>Ruby quits her job at the plant and devises a story so that her mother will let her stay out late every night, when the Dance Halls do their business. Ruby soon finds herself leading two lives and hiding each from the other. <BR/><BR/>Taxi dancing proves to be more complicated than Ruby thought. There is a hierarchy of girls to navigate through and earning good money means learning the act of subtle manipulation with the clients. Ruby soon learns that the world of taxi dancing is a complicated one and, as her new friend Peggy tells her, "every taxi dancer has a story." <BR/><BR/>Will Ruby be able to separate herself from this new world or will she become another one of its casualties? Will she ever be able to return to her old life? Is it possible to return to an innocent existence after seeing another side of life? <BR/><BR/>TEN CENTS A DANCE was inspired by a member of author Christine Fletcher's own family. The story of Sofia, as explained in the book, is about a family member who was lost for several years. She had been shamed and banished from the family only to return years later. Sofia had been a taxi dancer and went to great lengths to hide her true life from her family. It was only after her death that the truth came to light. Fletcher began to research taxi dancers, which led to the creation of Ruby. <BR/><BR/>This is an amazing story that vividly describes what it must have been like to be young and offered such a great opportunity and terrible burden at the same time. Ruby is a very realistic character with enough spunk to inspire anyone. The dialogue is rich with the language of the time and the spirit of pre-war America has been accurately represented. <BR/><BR/>TEN CENTS A DANCE will leave a lasting impression.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2012

    Amazing!!!

    I read this book in two days! Its absolutly amazing!!!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2012

    Fantastic book!

    Absolutely great book. Entertaining but also you learn alot. The best of both worlds.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2012

    Great read

    Loved background and history of book-overall a great book with a wonderful plot, and well narrated characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011

    "Riviting"

    One of the best books ive read thus far!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I enjoyed it

    Christine Fletcher captures the life of the poor in Chicago of the 1940s with such realism that you feel for the characters, especially Ruby Jacinski. Wanting more for herself that what the slums have to offer, she takes a job as a taxi dancer. We learn that life is not always greener on the other side. But Roby is strong and learns to overcome her obstacles. I enjoyed this book, but when I learned that the inspiration for this story was based on the author's long lost family member Sophia who was a taxi dancer made it all the more special. Although this book was written for the young adult reader, it is also enjoyable for us older adults.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2013

    This I loved this book and have previously written a review for

    This I loved this book and have previously written a review for it, however I need to say that this book cover
    change is horrific and gives you the WRONG impression about what Ruby's story is all about. It's just ridiculous.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2013

    Best Book Ever!!

    Stop wasting your time looking at reviews and just read! This book is amazing!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2012

    Pretty good

    This book was indeed a pretty good book. I'm saying this and giving it 4 stars becuase it was not really my style. What drew me in was the fact that it was about a taxi dancer and being that dance is one of my passions I was really curious about the taxi dancer profession. So indeed it was good. It just wasn't what I was expecting. I was looking forward to a bigger dance scene or rather just something more on the profession. It's more of a love story but it's not at all mushy. In fact it is hard and real. Overall it was a good read just not one of my favorites.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 29, 2011

    This is a Wonderful Book- must have!

    I am an avid (rabid) reader so I like free books. This was the first thing I bought on my Nook. It may seem pricy to your at $7.19 if your a thrifty fourteen year-old girl like me. The book had the main person of interest, Ruby, show change and emotion. Hope for getting to a better home, working over the greed that comes with money, and putting back together a family bond. Add in an interesting boyfriend and a true taxi dancer story you are in for a gret read. 276 pages.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Like no other

    this book is great i wish i had it.
    i never thiough a school libraty book would be this good.
    it is great and no book is like it.
    it's so good that i read it cover-to-cover.
    and happy about it.
    it's kind of a true life hidden storie to the Christine Fletcher.
    she is really good and i never wanted to put it down. when thigs were going right in the book, she kept going and made it solid. meaning truthful by solid to real life problems.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2008

    Liv's Book Reviews

    Before reading this book, I hadn't read a ton of detailed historical fiction before. I wasn't sure how I was going to like it, and surprisingly, it really struck a chord with me. I loved how it covered a time period that I didn't know much about and how we were able to see it all through the eyes of someone who was easy to relate to, and real. Ruby reacted the same way any of us would have reacted in her situations and for that, I was drawn into the story completely. It slowed down a little at some parts, but there was sure to be a huge twist on the way to pull me under again. I also liked how this book wasn't so much about the action, but about the setting and making it come alive for the reader, which it really did. I was able to perfectly picture the dance hall, the black and tans, the dresses Ruby wore, and the factory she worked at in the beginning of the book. Description and details were everywhere which was wonderful. I think the other thing that made the book work was how the plot wasn't sugar coated - it showed the ugly underside of life in the 40's not glossing over the gory parts. I was able to read about what things would have actually been like had I been living in those times. The plot twists were realistic and unexpected and everything felt as if it had been carefully planned out to add more to the story. I would definitely recommend this book if your looking for something that will teach you things but also take you back in time and sweep you away into a world that you never thought you'd experience. Even if you aren't a history lover, you'll definitely like Ten Cents A Dance.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2008

    I enjoyed it a LOT

    Ruby, a fifteen year old Polish-American girl, grew up quickly once her mother became sick with her arthritis. She was tired of working in meat-packing... she needed more money, she needed some excitement. She worked at the taxi-dance hall... where she had to dance all night for nickels. Avoiding strange men, hooking 'fish', and enjoying that beautiful jazz music only found at Lily's. Then there's Paulie, the neighborhood bad boy. Ruby thinks it's love, but the entire time the reader knows it's not real. She surely finds that out, at the same that her mother has some unexpected plans that will quickly change her life, as well as the war. This is a really interesting read. It's like an unknown era... where there was so much prejudice, where there was so much limelight, where there was so much hustle, where there was so much that was not socially accepted. Yet at the same time, so much was increasingly boring. Now... I didn't really like the ending of the book... or the relationship Ruby had with her family. The characters around the taxi-hall seemed a lot more developed. As soon as Ruby went home to the boring part of town, I felt a little bored as well. STILL... you should read this, you'll like it. Thank you for reading my long review!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2008

    An Unforgettable Story

    At only fifteen and a half years old, Ruby Jacinski is forced to take a job at the packinghouses in order to support her family. But even with that job, Ruby¿s family is very poor. Ruby yearns for the time when theydidn ¿t live in the Yards, when they had money, when her father was alive. She also wants more freedom from her strict mother. Opportunity comes in the form of bad boy PaulieSuelze . With help from him, Ruby lands a job at a Taxi-Dance Hall, where her wages are much higher than she could ever make at the packinghouse. At the Starlight, the Taxi-Dance Hall, Ruby manages to make one solid friend, Peggy, whose experience guides Ruby and helps her out of some sticky situations. However, nothing could stop Ruby for falling in love with Paulie. Soon with success at the Starlight and a relationship with Paulie, Ruby finds herself caught up in the dangerous world of money and mobsters. Ruby is constantly torn between her loyalties to her family, her friends, and Paulie as well as her illusion as she struggles to discover what she truly wants in her life. Ten Cents a Dance was certainly an amazing historical novel. it was placed against the backdrop of World War II, and the wartime atmosphere in America was very well-portrayed. But my favorite aspect of this novel had to be Ruby¿s character. She is such a strong young woman, and even though she made many mistakes, she learned from them. If Ruby were a real person, she¿d be living evidence of the phrase, ¿whatdoesn ¿t kill you makes you stronger.¿ On another note, I could Ruby¿s love of dance and music fascinating. I swear, I have a vivid image in my head of Ruby ¿hoofing it.¿ Ruby has definitely won me over with her journey to find herself, and she has become one of my favorite fictional characters. I think Ruby¿s strength can be an inspiration to all of us, and I whole-heartedly recommend Ten Cents a Dance. Fans of historical fiction novels, such as A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly, as well as coming-of-age stories like I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert will also enjoy this novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2008

    A reviewer

    Ten Cents a Dance begins with an exciting opening scene and continues to deliver throughout the novel. I usually don't say much about plot because it isn't as important to me as the characters are however, the plot was amazing in this novel. I loved it. It was just as important and intriguing as the characters. I thought each character was well developed, even the more minor characters. I felt like I was given a glimpse into the soul of each and came away having an understanding of each character and their actions. Another aspect of the novel I loved was the historical one. I have always loved history and reading books set in the 1940s and earlier, so it was no surprise that I enjoyed the historical setting of Ten Cents a Dance. I had never heard of taxi-dancers before and loved learning all about this particular event in history. The only problem I had with Ten Cents a Dance was that I wanted more, which isn't really a problem at all. I was invested in every single character so I really wish I knew what happened with more of the minor characters like Stan, Angie, Manny, etc. I absolutely loved this book. It pulled me in from the beginning and would not let go. This is definitely a book I'll be recommending every chance I get. Go buy it now, you won't regret it!

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    Posted February 12, 2009

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    Posted April 28, 2011

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    Posted April 28, 2012

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    Posted April 25, 2011

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    Posted October 9, 2011

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