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Rose Sees Red

Rose Sees Red

4.0 1
by Cecil Castellucci

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Partly based on the author's own experiences at the famous Manhattan high school for the performing arts, this novel explores friendship, freedom, and the art of challenging convention. Set in New York in the 1980s, this story of two ballet dancers (one American, one Russian) recounts the unforgettable night they spend in the city, and celebrates the friendship they


Partly based on the author's own experiences at the famous Manhattan high school for the performing arts, this novel explores friendship, freedom, and the art of challenging convention. Set in New York in the 1980s, this story of two ballet dancers (one American, one Russian) recounts the unforgettable night they spend in the city, and celebrates the friendship they form despite their cultural and political differences.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Each day when high school sophomore Rose and her brother leave their house, they debate whether the men on their street corner are KGB or CIA--they live next to a “Soviet apartment compound” in New York City’s Riverdale neighborhood in 1982. The tense cold war setting (talk about “commies” and the possibility of nuclear war are commonplace) is a fitting backdrop for the interpersonal dramas that run through Castellucci’s (The Queen of Cool) pensive story. Rose is lonely and introspective after being abandoned by her former best friend, but when she meets Yrena, her intriguing 16-year-old Russian neighbor, it’s the start of an awakening. Like Rose, Yrena is a ballet dancer, but more than anything, Yrena is dying to be an American teenager. It’s Yrena’s last chance to go out in the U.S. before returning to Moscow, and she ropes Rose into making the most of it. Through Yrena’s perspective, Rose begins to see her own life in a new light. Aside from a melodramatic ending, it’s a quietly memorable story that hums with the energy and potential of a city after hours. Ages 12-18. (Aug.)
VOYA - Vikki Terrile
Rose is a freshman dancer at New York City's High School of Performing Arts in the fall of 1982. Her best friend has turned on her, she has no friends at her new school, and Rose, who always looks outside herself for answers, is adrift. When Yrena, the girl next door and daughter of Soviet diplomats, shows up at her bedroom window one Friday night, it begins an adventure that brings Rose new friends, new confidence, and a new sense of her place in the world. Spanning just two days, Castellucci's novel tackles the multiple doubts plaguing Rose, most notably her many social anxieties and her terror that she will never be a good enough dancer, as well as the politics of the Cold War era—all in just two hundred pages. That Rose's fears are so quickly tempered reads as convenient at best, and Yrena, the runaway Soviet girl aching for one night as a real American teen, is something straight out of an ?80s teen movie. Fortunately, these plot devices do nothing to take away from what truly shines in this muddled story—Castellucci's love of the New York City of this era: graffitied (and potentially dangerous) subway cars, smutty sex-shop Times Square and all. Today's teen fans of John Hughes movies, new wave music, and D & D will be intrigued by this snapshot of recent US history, even if the other elements of the story fall flat in comparison. Reviewer: Vikki Terrile
Children's Literature - Lara Beth Lehman
Rose takes everything black: clothes, toast and coffee. In one night, all of that changes. Still hurting from the estrangement of her best friend Daisy, friendless Rose keeps herself on the outer edge of things; she describes it as like being in outer space and how moving one inch could put you a million miles away. It's a typical Friday night for Rose, hanging out alone in her room until she hears a tap at her window and it is her highly protected Russian neighbor Yrena. The year is 1982, in the Cold War era, and a shroud of mystery surrounds Yrena as she never goes out without men in suits and dark glasses following close by. Rose feels an instant connection to Yrena. Both girls are dancers and know captivity all too well—although Yrena's is forced upon her and Rose's is self inflicted. Yrena seeks an authentic American teenager experience and Rose spontaneously decides to give her just that. Slipping past Yrena's bodyguards, they head to a party on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, leaving the KGB and the CIA in their dust. That sets off a life changing night of being young and free in New York City, impromptu dance parties, and sightseeing, all the while letting their inner passion flow and embracing life in way they never knew possible. Despite being set in 1982, the novel has a contemporary feel and readers will no doubt identify with Rose and her struggles. Reviewer: Lara Beth Lehman
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Rose wears all black, drinks her coffee black, and views the world as black during her friendless fall semester of ninth grade. She only feels truly alive when she dances, but dancing doesn't come easily in New York City's high-pressure High School of Performing Arts. It's 1982, with political tensions between the U.S. and USSR running rampant. When her neighbor whom she has never spoken to, a Russian teen named Yrena, sneaks into her bedroom window, Rose embarks on an adventure that not only brings new friendships, but also opens her eyes to the world around her and to the value of her own talents. The protagonist is a complexly layered character who suffers from crippling sensitivity, and her difficulty feeling at home in her body will resonate with teens. She is honest, funny, and completely authentic, and it is magical to see her dark world bloom with color. Her former best friend is similarly well drawn; Castellucci depicts Daisy's unbelievable meanness and manipulation, and the pain it causes Rose, without giving their story a happy ending. Unfortunately, the 1980s setting is unclear in the early chapters, and some youngsters might feel at sea when Reagan-era politics pops up in a novel that feels contemporary. Aspects of the plot seem undeveloped, such as Yrena's near-imprisonment in her own home. However, the prose is poetic and rich. Advanced readers will glide and pirouette through this delightful novel.—Jess deCourcy Hinds, Bard High School Early College Queens, Long Island City, NY
Kirkus Reviews
An '80s movie in novel form: A smart, painfully lonely teen finds an unlikely connection to the daughter of officials from the Soviet Union, and together they go on the all-night New York City adventure of a lifetime, finding love, friendship and laughter along the way. This spare, powerful story of friendship and art (both are ballerinas; American Rose struggles to succeed while Soviet Yrena dances beautifully but hates it) loses something by virtue of a setting that is historical but too recent to be the stuff of history classes (and is thus unfamiliar to the target audience); without a sense of the Cold War era, readers will find much here perplexing. Moreover, the journey concludes at a No Nukes rally, and the message (people are people, the rest is politics) briefly overwhelms the story. Rose's simple, occasionally staccato narration conveys a poetry and grace, and the respect for the struggle to say something—through art in particular—comes across on every page. Not for everyone, but artists will appreciate seeing themselves evoked so sympathetically. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sold by:
Scholastic, Inc.
File size:
306 KB
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Cecil Castellucci grew up in New York City and is the author of the young adult novels Rose Sees Red, Boy Proof, The Queen of Cool, and Beige, as well as the comic books The Plain Janes and Janes in Love. Currently, Cecil Castellucci lives in Los Angeles. You can learn more about her at www.misscecil.com and via her blog, castellucci.livejournal.com.

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Rose Sees Red 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Rose has made her decision. When she chooses to attend the High School of Performing Arts rather than the Bronx Science school, her friend Daisy disowned her. Rose couldn't even tell Daisy that she was going to try out for the dance program, because Daisy decided a few years back that they shouldn't do ballet anymore. It made Rose realize that Daisy wasn't a real friend in the end. Every morning, Rose and her brother, Todd, watch as the Russian girl next door, Yrena, leaves to attend her school behind the gates. Yrena's family has something to do with the United Nations, but they don't associate with any of the other neighbors. Rose is shy at her school, and she is taken by surprise when Caitlin and Callisto (two of the three triplets...Caleb, their brother, is the third) invite Rose to come partying on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of the Arts that night. Rose says she can't, but when Yrena suddenly appears through her window, Rose makes a spontaneous decision to take Yrena to the Museum after all. That begins a wild night that has Rose and Yrena dodging secret agents, finding themselves on the news, and Rose sparking with the brooding Caleb. ROSE SEES RED takes place in the 1980s when the US and the then-USSR were at odds with each other. Yrena's family is segregated from the Americans, and it's only through each other's windows that the two ever saw a glimpse of the other's life - until Yrena makes the leap. Rose and her friends realize that they only have the one night to expose Yrena to the American life she's only dreamed about. Even though ROSE SEES RED takes places in the 1980s, the story could really take place at any time in any place. Rose and Yrena are from two different cultures and they struggle to come to realize that the truths they have been exposed to may be wrong after all. I enjoyed the whirlwind adventure that Rose, Yrena, Caitlin, Callisto, and Caleb find themselves immersed in. The ending is sad, but in the time period the story is set, it is the right one. This is the first story by Cecil Castellucci I have read, but now I know it won't be the last one.